It’s been about five years since Tracey Moreton lost her unborn son to a rare condition, but she still visits the place where she spread his ashes at least twice a month.
The Leeds, England mother recently decided to share photos of her son who was stillborn after 22 weeks in the womb to demonstrate his worth and to validate moms like her who are grieving the loss of an unborn child.
“… I want to remember Theo and help others be able to talk about baby loss,” Moreton told the Daily Mail. “I feel really passionate about it. I’ve realized it’s not just about Theo anymore, it’s about all those other babies that have been lost, too.”
The news of her unborn son’s imminent death came quickly for Moreton. She said she was at her 21-week pregnancy scan when doctors informed her that her son, Theodore, had a fatal condition.
“I’d been really excited for the 21 week scan,” Moreton said. “He was kicking but something wasn’t feeling right compared to my first pregnancy with Finlay. I’d been feeling pretty ill. The nurse seemed to be taking forever and wasn’t saying anything. I could tell something was wrong. She was moving around, trying to find something.”
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Eventually, a doctor told Moreton that Theo had a rare condition called posterior urethral valves, which made him “incompatible with life.” The doctor said her unborn son had pulmonary and renal failure, and his lungs were extremely underdeveloped, according to the report.
“The consultant told me Theo’s lungs had barely developed and his kidneys were affected – it took me a while to realize what they were telling me,” Moreton said. “I couldn’t understand because I could feel him moving around inside me. A second consultant explained Theo was being supported by the placenta in the womb, but when he was born it would be the reverse – it would be like a fish out of water and he would be unable to breathe.”
A week later, Moreton gave birth to him stillborn on Sept. 4, 2011, after four and a half hours of labor, the report states. She said she had the chance to hold his tiny body in the hospital and “he was perfect.” In the photos, he looks like any other newborn baby, only smaller. It’s clear by the photos that he already had his own unique facial features and fingerprints. At 22 weeks, Theo was born before the legal abortion limit in England, meaning that babies his age can be legally aborted for any reason. His story and photos are a startling reminder of how often babies even at such a late stage of pregnancy are not protected or valued in the law.
Theo clearly was valued by his family. Moreton said she had a funeral for Theodore and scattered his ashes at the Cottingley Hall Crematorium’s Baby Garden, a place she still visits at least twice a month. The hospital also gave her a memory box that has Theo’s tiny hand and foot prints, according to the report.
“People who have had miscarriages have said to me that they know how I feel,” she said. “But what I went through is something completely different. Losing a baby in the early stages is incredibly hard, but having to give birth to a lost baby is something else again. I find it really hard thinking about all those things that Theo never got the chance to do.”
“I hope that by sharing what happened people will start to become more aware of the babies that are lost,” Moreton said.