“As the weeks went on, we started to look forward to our counselling sessions as we were able to express ourselves with no judgment as well as understanding and learning what the process of grief was”
Sapna and Chetan
On Friday 10th September 2021 Sapna and Chetan Parmar took on the Thames Moonlight 10k Walk, in memory of their daughter Skye who was stillborn on Saturday 6th March 2021 at 35 weeks. Below is their story and what motivated them to take on a challenge and support Petals. As of writing, Sapna and Chetan have raised over £4,000 which is an amazing amount of money and will fund over 57 counselling sessions for bereaved parents.
Can you tell us your story and how you found Petals?
After many years for trying for a baby, we were finally pregnant. Covid meant that we spent a lot of our pregnancy at home, but we were happy with that because it meant we could look after our baby. We were so excited to finally be first time parents.
We were well into our third trimester when one day we couldn’t feel her moving. We rushed to the hospital, where we were seen immediately by the doctor. When 3 more came in to have a look, we knew it was bad news. We were told the dreaded words, “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat”. We were devastated. We’d had no warning, no pain, nothing. How can the heart just stop beating at this stage?
We were told we’d have to come back in a couple of days to be induced. I’d have to give birth “normally”. We couldn’t think of anything worse. We were scared.
Her birth was traumatic for us both. I lost a lot of blood and ended up in intensive care unit and was told that I was lucky to be alive. Chetan watched helplessly as his stillborn daughter lay in a cold cot and his wife was on the brink of death.
After I had recovered, we were able to spend time with Skye. We held her, spoke to her, willed her to wake up. She was cold and heavy but she looked peaceful, like any other sleeping baby. At that point it hadn’t quite registered what had happened. It had all happened so quickly.
We came home from the hospital the following Tuesday with no baby in our arms, a home full of baby items and empty hearts. We had no idea what we were going to do and how we were going to get through this. All of a sudden, our lives had been turned upside down.
Our bereavement midwife Sam looked after us through this time, she was an absolute life saver. She checked in with us and answered any questions we had. She told us that the next steps for us would be to organise a funeral for Skye and also to apply for some counseling sessions via Petals. She told us we may have to wait a few weeks but she’d do everything she could to get us support at as soon as possible.
We ended up getting an appointment very quickly. Within 3 weeks of Skye being born we were booked in for our first counselling appointment.
What does Petals mean to you?
Neither of us had had much experience of counselling before so we didn’t know what to expect. Russ, our counsellor explained the process very thoroughly and answered all the questions we had. Chetan and I were skeptical. But as the weeks went on, we started to look forward to our sessions as we were able to express ourselves with no judgment as well as understanding and learning what the process of grief was.
Russ helped us to see that we are justified in the way we feel and that something like this is so devastating that we are allowed to feel emotions that we hadn’t felt before.
He has helped us through some really tough days. There were days where we couldn’t get out of bed, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Not only had we lost our daughter, but we were also dealing with the trauma of her birth. We should have been worrying about dirty nappies, not organising a funeral for our baby. If we’d hadn’t had the support from Petals we don’t know where we’d be today.
How has the support you’ve received from Petals helped your family?
Petals helped take the burden away from our family of being the sole people to support us. They have not been through trauma like this before, so it was very difficult for them to know how to help us. When losing a baby, time is not a healer, in fact as everything sinks in and life goes “back to normal” time makes it worse. I can imagine that many couples are just left to fend for themselves after something like this. They are not equipped for dealing with this and neither are their families. The help we got from Petals has been life changing.
We wanted to do something to mark Skye’s half birthday. If she were really here, we’d have done something special for her. But we thought, since she’s not here, how can we honour her? After searching online we saw that the Thames Moonlight 10 Walk was being held at around the same time. We also scattered Skye’s ashes in the Thames so this walk was perfect for us to be close to her too.
Have you ever taken on a challenge like this before?
Never. We’re not overly active people so it’s going to be tough! But we thought it would be a nice idea to give it a go and raise some money to give back to Petals.
If anyone else if thinking about fundraising for Petals, what advice would you give them?
When we saw how much we’d raised we were in shock. To think that the money is going to go to other people who need the support as much as we do is extremely rewarding. Even if we can help just one other person going through the devastation of losing a baby, that will be one less person who is suffering on their own.