Ryan Jackson's story
Ryan Jackson’s daughter Lily Mae was stillborn on 7th February 2010. I approached Ryan to share his story after following him on Twitter and being moved by the things that he has done in Lily Mae’s memory to raise money to support other bereaved parents. Here Ryan shares his story and of how the Lily Mae Foundation came to be.
On the 7th Feb 2010 my wife (Amy Jackson) gave birth to a little girl, Lily Mae, however things were not as we had planned. The reason being that on Friday 5th February Amy and I had been given the devestating news that Lily Mae had died at 37weeks gestation. This should have been a day that brought so much joy, but instead brought so much pain and sadness. The days we questioned why? Why us? Why Lily Mae? A little girl so innocent, so vulnerable and so small.
From the day Amy and I knew we were going to have another baby we were so excited and couldn’t wait to tell people the good news. Everyone who knows Amy and I knew that we so desperately wanted a baby girl, but as long as the baby was healthy we would be happy. We couldn’t wait and every time we went to a scan or we heard Lily Mae’s heart beat we were so proud, proud to be a mummy and daddy again. We have a 4 year old son, Alfie, born in 2006. We used to imagine what our lives would be like and the fun and games that we would play with Alfie.
Throughout my life I dreamed of being able to walk my daughter down the aisle to a man that loved her as much as I would but sadly I will not be able to do this. Even in the saddest of days at Lily Mae’s funeral, I wanted to take that walk with Lily Mae as it would be my last with her making me the proudest daddy in the world, enabling me to say that this is my daughter, Lily Mae. That is why it was important to me to carry Lily Mae into the church; The hardest thing that I have and will ever have to do in my life.
In such a short space of time Lily Mae was able to touch so many lives. My life, Amy’s and Alfie’s lives will never be the same but Lily Mae will have a lasting effect on all those family and friends who met her. The moments that Amy and I had with her will be cherished forever.
Following our ordeal Amy and I set out with the aim to raise money and awareness of SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity). We felt that we needed to do something positive. We held our inaugral golf day in April 2010 and raised a staggering £12,500 (Money including a collection from Lily Mae’s funeral) and we only set out with a target of £10,000. Our Second Golf Day on 29th April 2011 raised £6600. Since Feb 2010 we have raised an amazing £22,500 for Sands. The money that we have raised has been split and we have sent some money to National Sands for research and we are currently negotiating with our local Solihull Sands group to purchase cold cots to enable parents who may have complications at birth to spend more time with their babies without the fear of deterioration.
You will not be aware my wife gave birth to a baby boy, Freddie, who was born on 18th April 2011. The experience for both my wife and I was very scary throughout the pregnancy. The worry that the pregnancy will run smoothly and that there will be no complications is overwhelming but you still have to remain confident and positive that all will be ok. Amy had lots of Scans throughout the pregnancy as she and I needed reassurance that all was ok.
When we lost Lily Mae in feb 2010 I feel that our hope that we would ever be fortunate to have another baby was tested to the extreme. You are always questioning yourself with the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only we had done something different’ but that just makes what you are feeling worse. That is why we decided to set up The Lily Mae Foundation (www.lilymaefoundation.com). The Lily Mae Foundation was set up in July 2010 in memory of Lily Mae. The Lily Mae Foundation was formed to create a lasting legacy to not only Amy, Alfie, Freddie and I and our Families but also to many others who were not fortunate enough to meet Lily Mae. Our vision at The Lily Mae foundation is to donate to SANDS to help them support their 3 core aims. The money that we have raised to date and all future donations support the 3 core aims which are to:
1. Support anyone affected by the death of a baby;
2. To work in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families; and
3. To promote research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives
There is hope and the day to day pain gets easier. We will never forget Lily Mae but you learn to accept what has happened as it becomes part of your life. The families we have met through Sands show enormous strength to be open in their experiences with us and that has helped us in the grieving and healing process. Even though we have had a little girl that we will never know, the thoughts for her never go away. Freddie is our special gift from Lily Mae. He will never replace what we have lost but he is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to have him. Some families never have the opportunity to have children which is why we are so grateful for what we have.