Mother helping to break the silence on babies ‘born asleep’ in stillbirth and parenting blog

When Rachel Maguire's son Alex entered the world he was a beautiful 8lb10oz baby.

Rachel and Rob Maguire with four-year-old William and two-year-old Thomas
Rachel and Rob Maguire with four-year-old William and two-year-old Thomas

Heartbreakingly for Rachel, her husband Rob and Alex's two older brothers he was 'born asleep'.

Now through the sadness of losing Alex, who was born at New Cross Hospital on November 7 last year, Rachel is hoping to break the silence surrounding stillbirth.

The 30-year-old, who is also mother to four-year-old William and two-year-old Thomas, started a blog called After Alex.

She has written a series of blog posts giving an honest account of her experiences, from being pregnant with Alex to facing life without him.

"After Alex was born, we were feeling really isolated and alone. I was feeling so guilty because Alex was inside me and I felt I should have known something was wrong.

"People would tell me 'there is nothing you could have done' but it didn't really help.

"I wanted to speak to someone who had experienced what we had gone through.

"I went online and I found other mums who had written blogs about their experiences.

Alex

"Their words really resonated with me and reading other’s experiences helped me feel less alone and gave me great comfort.

"I wanted to do the same for others and I thought that if I even help one person in their grief then it would have been worth it."

Writing down her feelings and about how the family, who live in Codsall, is coping has also proven therapeutic.

"It helps me to get it down on paper and to talk about Alex. A lot of people aren't sure whether to talk about him but I love talking about Alex.

"The fact he is not here could mean he is forgotten but he never will be, we don't want to forget him, he will always be part of the family," said Rachel, who works as an events manager.

One of the hardest things for the couple was explaining to William and Thomas what happened.

"It was a difficult thing to do, I felt I had let them down too. We decided it was better to be open and honest with them, we didn't think there was any point lying because it would just cause problems later.

"I had gone into labour naturally and told William that I would be coming home with Alex and then I had to tell him that Alex wasn't coming home.

"The boys came to the hospital to hold Alex. They needed to see him and to know he wasn't coming home. There were a few tears from William. We told him that Alex was poorly and had gone to be a star in the sky.

"I've never hidden my sadness from them. If they see me crying, I tell them that I'm missing Alex. They have dealt with it amazingly well," she said.

Rachel also wants her blog to raise awareness of stillbirth, which she believes is not talked about enough.

“There is a huge silence, it's taboo in a way, to talk about child loss but it's so common. When I tell people what happened I sometimes get the impression that they think I am an unlucky statistic to have experienced something with such small odds," she said.

Rachel and Rob with baby Alex

"When you're pregnant it's drilled into you about cot death, you're given leaflets and told how they should sleep but nobody really talks about stillbirth.

"Yet it's 15 times more common than cot death. No one talks about the symptoms and what to be aware of.

"No one tells you that you can have a healthy full-term baby and go into labour and this could happen.

"We're not been given a reason for what happened to Alex, we've just been told it happens.

"Ten babies a day in the UK are stillborn and the West Midlands has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the country.

"This angers me and also makes me sad. We should be talking about it because it's not a rare occurrence.

“I hope that by talking about Alex and by sharing his story, my voice will join lots of others to raise awareness of this type of loss in the hope that more is done to fund much needed research," added Rachel.

Rachel and Rob are hoping to do their own bit towards that funding by holding a charity ball at Park House Hotel, Shifnal, on November 18.

The event, which will feature a three-course meal, raffle and entertainment, will raise awareness of stillbirth and child loss as well as money for charity Tommy’s, which funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.

"People may think Alex isn't here so we wouldn't want to celebrate his birthday. If it was another family member who had died it would be a bit weird.

"I wanted to mark his birthday so thought we're going to have a birthday party to celebrate Alex and also how we've come since those dark days. It then snowballed into this ball.

"Alex was our son, we will always want to talk about him," said Rachel.

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