Rachael, Sands blog
Rachael Brann, | 11 June 2015

Our new film highlights the work Sands does supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, improving bereavement care and pioneering new research to save more babies’ lives; and what you can do to help.

Each day this week we will introduce all the people in the film who will share their stories below in their own words.

Rachael's story

My baby son, Mason, was stillborn at 22 weeks. At 20 weeks, fresh from my routine scan, I could say I’d had the perfect pregnancy. Then one Wednesday morning at 22 weeks, my waters broke.

I was rushed to hospital where I was told that I’d lost 95% of the fluid in my womb. Five days later I went into labour. Mason died two hours before he was born, he weighed 1lb 2oz, he was perfect.

I cannot describe how I felt that day. I was heartbroken and so angry. It was the worst day of my life and whatever happens in the future, it always will be. 

I didn’t find out about Sands until a friend told me about them shortly after Mason had died. I used the Sands Forum at first, but needed to meet people face to face, so I went to my nearest Sands Group in Leeds. 

That first meeting I found overwhelming and I just cried throughout, but in fact it was really helpful to know that others felt the same as I did. So I started visiting Leeds, then Oldham Sands regularly. The meetings really helped to give me back my confidence after Mason died and I found I was looking forward to them more and more each month. 

My new found confidence helped me to realise two things, I wanted to become a Sands Befriender, but first I wanted to have another baby. 

My son, Ethan, was born in August 2010 and he’s now nearly five years old. I then trained as a Sands Befriender in 2011; and in March 2012, three years after Mason died, I set up Huddersfield Sands. 

For the first few months hardly anybody turned up, but then, as word spread, parents started to come to us for help. We now support anywhere between eight and 25 people each month at our regular meetings. Huddersfield Sands proved so popular that in March 2014, this time around the fifth anniversary of Mason’s death, I set up Halifax Sands.

The same year we raised the money to open a Bereavement Suite in Calderdale Royal Hospital. Now, when parents lose a baby, there’s a place where they can grieve and create memories in their own time.

Today, I wouldn’t be where I am mentally if it wasn’t for Sands. Their initial support online and at group meetings, to the help I received from Befrienders who volunteer their time for people like me, helped me through my grief.

Through the work I’ve done, I feel in some ways I’ve made a horrendous thing into something positive. I want to help people coming to Huddersfield and Halifax Sands Groups, I want to build awareness of stillbirth and neonatal death so that people can be more open about the death of a baby. But all of this, everything I’ve done, I’ve done in Mason’s memory.