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'WE KNEW WE WEREN'T GOING TO HAVE A LONG TIME WITH HER BUT THOSE HOURS WERE EVERYTHING' Hospital's special room helped heartbroken parents make memories with their stillborn daughter Emily.

Byline: AMY COLES Reporter

ABRAVE mum has shared precious photos of her "beautiful little girl" to encourage people to talk about miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death.

Heartbreakingly, new mum Starr Richards and dad Gareth Johnson had just 27 hours to make memories with baby daughter Emily Kate when she was delivered stillborn just under a year ago.

Starr is now sharing her experience in a bid to encourage people to talk openly about baby loss.

Speaking about her daughter, the 25-year-old, from Caerphilly, said: "We knew we weren't going to have a long time with her but those hours were everything. I wish I could have had more.

"All my memories of Emily are in that room. I got to cuddle her and dress her. Even the time she was in her cot it looked like she could have been sleeping.

"If I couldn't have had that, I don't know what memories I would have had. I would have been left with scan photographs.

"Not a lot of hospitals are able to give families that time. So we were lucky to have that time, talking to her and cuddling her.

"She looked exactly like what I expected Emily to look like."

Starr was pregnant with Emily when doctors began to fear something was wrong during a routine scan at 20 weeks.

Three weeks later it was discovered Emily had Triploidy, a chromosomal disorder where babies have an added set of chromosomes.

Starr learnt Emily wouldn't survive birth and had to make the devastating decision to be induced, giving birth to her at just under six months.

Emily weighed just 240 grams, or just over eight ounces, when she was born on November 20, 2016, and measured a tiny 23cm long. Her feet measured less than the width of two fingers.

Starr and Gareth, who live in Newport, were given a room called the Butterfly Room in the city's Royal Gwent Hospital. It is a suite specially designed for grieving parents and families to spend time with their child and be parents.

Speaking about the pregnancy, Starr said: "At the 20-week scan we were excited to be finding out whether we were having a boy or a girl.

"First of all they couldn't see the baby very well, then they said she was very low down.

"They got me to walk around to get the baby moving but they still couldn't get the measurements and that's when I knew something was really wrong. I could tell by their faces."

She added: "She was tiny when she was born, my beautiful little girl.

"I want the world to know Emily and how beautiful she was. How loved she was."

Starr, who works as a receptionist in Newport, spoke about her experience to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week which runs from October 9 to today. Baby Loss Awareness Week unites bereaved parents, their families and friends with each other and others across the world, to commemorate their babies' lives. It also provides a chance to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

Starr said she is keen to see the kind of support she was given in hospital available to everyone, including dads who are also suffering from grief.

The charity Sands, a stillbirth and neonatal death organisation, has supported Starr for the last year.

Starr added: "We were lucky to have a really, really good midwife, who was a specialist in bereavement care and was absolutely amazing."

Starr also said that she has found people aren't "comfortable" speaking about the issue.

She said: "A lot of my friends avoided me because they did not know what to say. A lot of people aren't comfortable talking about it.

"But talking about Emily and having people remember her is the only thing that has got me through. Talking is the only thing I can do for her.

"I feel like if I can help someone else then Emily's life had meaning and that was the purpose of her life."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 15, 2017
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