Devastated families share heartbreaking images of their lost children

Parents have shared their heartbreaking stories and images of losing their babies before, during or shortly after birth.

The pictures were taken by the charity Remember My Baby (RMB), which provides free remembrance photography for families going through the devastating experience of losing a child.   

Families from around the UK who have been helped out by the free service have praised it for giving them something they can look back on and cherish forever, and have shared their images to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020.

It comes after model Chrissy Teigen, 34, bravely shared heartbreaking images on social media of her and husband John Legend, 41, cradling their son who died ‘about halfway through her pregnancy’. 

Families have shared their heartbreaking stories of baby loss and expressed how much having pictures taken  by Remember My Baby has helped them get through the emotional experience. Pictured,  Keira Spray and Ryan Stokes from Ramsgate, Kent, during the C-section of their twin daughters at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, on January 11, 2019

Families have shared their heartbreaking stories of baby loss and expressed how much having pictures taken  by Remember My Baby has helped them get through the emotional experience. Pictured,  Keira Spray and Ryan Stokes from Ramsgate, Kent, during the C-section of their twin daughters at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, on January 11, 2019

The amazing charity takes photographs for families experiencing child loss and hoping to have some images to look back on of their babies. Pictured, the feet of Helen and Rik Belsham's first baby, a daughter, who was born sleeping at 7.37pm pm May 19, 2018, as a result of severe pre eclampsia

The amazing charity takes photographs for families experiencing child loss and hoping to have some images to look back on of their babies. Pictured, the feet of Helen and Rik Belsham’s first baby, a daughter, who was born sleeping at 7.37pm pm May 19, 2018, as a result of severe pre eclampsia

The couple, who had not named their two other children, Luna, four, and Miles, two, until after they were born had begun calling the unborn baby boy ‘Jack’. 

After revealing she was pregnant in August, Chrissy had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the end of September after enduring a month of bleeding due to having a weak placenta and had been at the hospital since her son’s passing. 

One family helped out by Remember My Baby were parents Georgina Richards and Anthony Yates, from Leigh-on-Sea Essex, when their son Noah was born sleeping on September 19, 2018 – at 41 weeks and one day. 

Mr Yates said the charity taking pictures of their son ‘normalised’ the situation the parents found themselves in and ‘treated him just like any other baby that was having a photoshoot’.  

‘This photo means everything to us and is so precious for us to always look back on, and to show his sibling, plus friends and family, that he did exist and will always be remembered because we are his and he is ours,’ he added. 

Keira Spray and Ryan Stokes from Ramsgate, Kent, had twin daughters at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, on January 11, 2019.

Families who have used the Remember My Baby photographers have claimed the powerful portraits helped them cope with the devastating loss. Pictured,  Samantha Waters and Frankie Emery's son Albie, who passed away shortly after he was born

Families who have used the Remember My Baby photographers have claimed the powerful portraits helped them cope with the devastating loss. Pictured,  Samantha Waters and Frankie Emery’s son Albie, who passed away shortly after he was born

Georgina Richards & Anthony Yates, from Leigh-on-Sea Essex, had pictures taken by Remember My Baby when their son Noah was born sleeping on September 19, 2018 - at 41 weeks and one day

Georgina Richards & Anthony Yates, from Leigh-on-Sea Essex, had pictures taken by Remember My Baby when their son Noah was born sleeping on September 19, 2018 – at 41 weeks and one day

One of their daughters, Willow, had anencephaly – a life-limiting condition where the baby’s brain and spinal cord do not develop properly. 

The couple found out about her condition when the babies were around 12 weeks and struggled to come to terms with the inevitable loss they were going to face when they had to say goodbye. 

When they were told about the life-limiting condition, doctors asked them if they wished to abort Willow but, faced with the chances of affecting their other baby, Mia, they decided to proceed with both pregnancies. 

While some children affected by the condition do not make it through the birth, others can survive for short while after they are born. Willow lived for 40 hours. 

Father, Ryan, said RMB was said when they were offered the opportunity to have RMB come into their C-section and take pictures he said ‘it was simply an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.’ 

‘We knew what was coming despite there being some uncertainty still so the opportunity to capture these precious moments and memories was something we felt lucky to have. 

‘The images we have as well as the slideshow are invaluable, they are my most treasured possession. 

Keira and Ryan were told at 12 week that one of their twin baby girls had anencephaly - a condition where the baby's brain and spinal cord do not develop properly. Pictured, the couple with their baby daughter, Willow

Keira and Ryan were told at 12 week that one of their twin baby girls had anencephaly – a condition where the baby’s brain and spinal cord do not develop properly. Pictured, the couple with their baby daughter, Willow 

While some babies with anencephaly do not make it to birth, others live for a short while once born. Willow (pictured) graced the world and her parents for 40 hours

While some babies with anencephaly do not make it to birth, others live for a short while once born. Willow (pictured) graced the world and her parents for 40 hours

‘I look through the pictures and watch the slideshow daily, such an emotional time can blur the memories, but having these images just makes everything so crystal clear. 

‘It makes Willow, our daughter, feel so close. It helps us communicate together to keep these memories alive.

Ryan claims the pictures have helped him cope with the situation and allowed him to speak about his daughter. 

At first, the couple just kept the pictures between themselves and close family but they have since decided to share some of them online.   

‘The pain does not go away but I must say, the pictures and slideshow, other keepsakes and the time we had especially, I think, has allowed us to come to terms with the loss,’ he added.  

Founder Cheryl Johnson set up the charity in 2014, inspired by the haunting memory of her friend having a stillborn baby on Christmas Day 1989. 

After the harrowing experience, all the family had to remember their son by was a black and white Polaroid photograph. 

Since setting up the charity, Cheryl has helped thousands of people cope with the loss of their child, providing them with free photographs they can treasure. 

Thanks to Remember My Baby, the couple were able to get much-treasured pictures of Willow with her surviving twin sister Mia (left) and they now share them online to show how proud they are of their daughters

Thanks to Remember My Baby, the couple were able to get much-treasured pictures of Willow with her surviving twin sister Mia (left) and they now share them online to show how proud they are of their daughters

On September 22, 2018, Samantha Waters and Frankie Emery were rocked by the death of their son Albie, who passed away shortly after he was born.

Samantha said: ‘Cheryl came in the evening to take photos of our family with our son. At the time we didn’t realise how much we would cherish them. 

‘I remember how lovely and patient Cheryl was. She took photos of his little hands and feet, his hair and face. 

‘The photos we have of Albie are irreplaceable and we are so grateful to have them.’

Highlighting just how important the role of the charity is to people dealing with baby loss, Samantha said the photograph they were given has been put up in their home.  

‘We love to see his face every day when we wake up,’ she said. ‘To some they are just photos but when those photos are the only thing you have to remember your son, they are everything.

‘Remember My Baby gave us the greatest gift that day that we will cherish forever.’

Mother Louise Mingle’s daughter Sienna was born on October 1, 2017, at Kings College Hospital in South London, where she was told about the RMB services by a bereavement midwife.  

Louise Mingle's daughter Sienna was born on October 1, 2017, at Kings College Hospital in South London, and she and her partner were able to get some family portraits with their baby which they cherish

Louise Mingle’s daughter Sienna was born on October 1, 2017, at Kings College Hospital in South London, and she and her partner were able to get some family portraits with their baby which they cherish

‘She explained to us that a professional photographer can come in and capture some images of our baby and the family and that it was a free service.

‘I said yes almost straight away because I thought it was a wonderful and kind idea, and I knew it would be our last opportunity to capture moments with our baby.

While the experience was of course heartbreaking, Ms Mingle said it was ‘lovely’ too, especially as she was able to get pictures of her daughter with her siblings, partner’s siblings and their parents. 

‘We received the photos just before we buried Sienna and I looked at them the same day. 

‘I was very emotional seeing her and in her little outfit. I shared the photos with my family, and a few close friends that requested to see, I was very grateful to have these images to share with them, I have one displayed by my bedside.’

Helen and Rik Belsham lost their first baby, a daughter, who was born sleeping at 7.37pm pm May 19, 2018, as a result of severe pre eclampsia.   

While she said the experience was heartbreaking to go through, she also said it was lovely to be able to get pictures with her daughter and all their family members

While she said the experience was heartbreaking to go through, she also said it was lovely to be able to get pictures with her daughter and all their family members

Mrs Belsham said: ‘From the outside looking in, taking photos may seem a little odd. 

‘In reality, we cannot thank them enough as these photos are our memories of our daughter.

‘When the midwife asked if we wanted the photos to be taken we said yes, not really knowing what to expect or why we would want a stranger taking pictures of her. 

‘I was still in shock over what happened but my husband and I went along with it and it’s the best decision we ever made.

‘Our photographer was compassionate from the start, and made us feel at ease. The photos are beautiful and mean the world to us.

‘It breaks my heart to think of the parents who have had to go through similar, having these pictures, despite them not being easy to look at, has helped us to heal and seeing her daily reminds us she will always be a part of our family.

Thanks to Remember My Baby, she and her partner were able to grieve for their baby and keep a picture of her by their bedside. Pictured, Louise (centre) with her baby and family members

Thanks to Remember My Baby, she and her partner were able to grieve for their baby and keep a picture of her by their bedside. Pictured, Louise (centre) with her baby and family members

‘As we sit here today with our newborn son, he will hear her name, see the pictures and know he has a very special guardian angel looking over him.

‘This service is something that should be available to anyone who has gone through what we have. 

‘In an ideal world no one should go through baby loss, but the fact that these charities and volunteers exist, and you don’t know until you need them, is vital and we as a family cannot thank them enough.’

Midwife Claire Howard and her husband Callum, from Bedfordshire, lost their son Luke Howard, who was born sleeping, on August 8, 2020. 

Their baby boy was born at 25 weeks with congenital abnormalities and was unable to join his sisters Francesca, three, and Phoebe, 20 months. 

Mrs Howard said: ‘Callum and I felt so respected by RMB and the care we received was outstanding, more than anything we could imagine. 

Claire Howard and her husband Callum had to say goodbye to their son Luke Howard when he was born at 25 weeks with congenital abnormalities. Pictured, the couple in a sweet family portrait with their son

Claire Howard and her husband Callum had to say goodbye to their son Luke Howard when he was born at 25 weeks with congenital abnormalities. Pictured, the couple in a sweet family portrait with their son

The midwife said the service Remember My Baby provided made a difference to helping them cope with the loss and has even set up a JustGiving page to help other families get what she considers to be a much-needed service

The midwife said the service Remember My Baby provided made a difference to helping them cope with the loss and has even set up a JustGiving page to help other families get what she considers to be a much-needed service

‘Our photographer took time to talk to us, and to our son, and acknowledged we are still parents even though our baby sadly wasn’t born alive.

‘The moments she captured have provided us with photographs to treasure forever, not only for our personal memories but for our two young daughters who are yet to fully comprehend the loss of their baby brother, as well as for our extended family.;

As a result of their experience with RMB, the couple set up a JustGiving page which has raised in excess of £700 to enable other families to benefit from their excellent services.   

‘As a midwife myself, I have some, albeit limited, experience caring for families during baby loss. 

‘Whilst we always endeavour to make the labour, birth and postnatal experience as positive as possible, midwives are not trained or experienced in photography, so creating such memories is not our expertise. 

‘We routinely offer a memory box complete with handprints, footprints and a couple of photographs, however these are usually taken by medical photographers, not photographers who are skilled in capturing special family moments. 

‘This is where RMB make such a difference, there are no words to explain how important it is to have beautiful photos that are carefully and sensitively taken.’ 

The charity is looking for volunteer photographers to help them continue to offer this service. Those interested 

would you be able to add a line at the end saying the charity desperately needs more volunteer photographers to continue to offer the service and to visit Remember My Baby website for more details.