A British family who persevered through a series of tragic circumstances last year is being recognized for the life-affirming way they treated their stillborn son.
The Daily Mail reports Lynsey Bell and her husband, Mark, were not planning to have any more children, but in December 2013, they discovered they were pregnant with their fourth child. Tragedy struck the family, however, and their son was stillborn eight months later.
The family held a funeral for baby Rory and invited family to see him, but they also had a different type of bonding experience that allowed them mourn and celebrate the short life that their baby boy had inside the womb. The couple, along with their three older children, spent 15 days with baby Rory after he was stillborn.
The hospital staff kept Rory’s body preserved in the cold so that his family could hold him, read stories to him and bathe him before they said their final goodbyes, according to the report. Though the experience may seem odd to some people, Lynsey said it helped her to grieve and begin on the journey to recovery.
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“I drank in every perfect little feature of his body,” Lynsey remembered. “I took photos of his face, the back of his head and his tiny fingers and toes. I changed his nappy and rocked him in my arms, and my bond grew and grew.”
The Bells knew that they faced a difficult situation even before Rory died. Lyndsey’s pregnancy was difficult, and she nearly lost her own life while she was giving birth to him, according to the report.
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Lynsey, a nurse, had problems with her previous pregnancy. When she learned that she was pregnant with Rory, she said she closely monitored her health and his. She said her 28 and 32 week ultrasounds showed that Rory was not growing as much as he should. By 35 weeks, her own health also became a cause for concern. According to the report, her blood pressure was very high and she began experiencing severe labor pains.
Lynsey went to the hospital, and the midwives soon told her that Rory had died in her womb. Her life also was in jeopardy. During labor, she began hemorrhaging and lost 15 pints of blood, according to the report. Doctors had to perform a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding and save her life, the report states. In addition, Lynsey’s kidneys began to fail and she was put on dialysis.
Fortunately, Lynsey recovered. During her extended stay in the hospital, she was able to spend time cuddling and bonding with her son’s body. Later, the family held a funeral for Rory and buried him in the family’s burial plot, the report states.
“People often feel awkward about mentioning Rory’s name around me, but I love talking about my son,” Bell said. “He’s just as much a part of our family as our living children.”
A growing number of families are doing similar things when they face the tragic loss of an infant. Programs like perinatal hospice recognize that unborn children are valuable people, and help their families’ memorialize their short lives. Perinatal hospice programs offer physical and emotional support to grieving families, including counseling, help with funeral arrangements, photographers who will take family photos with the baby at the hospital, mementos to remember the baby by, and more.