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Couple who suffered stillbirth tragedy raise money for other bereaved parents

A couple whose son was stillborn have been selflessly fundraising to support other bereaved parents who use maternity services at Walsall Manor Hospital.

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Laura and Dan with the cuddle cot

Hudson James Rubenis was born weighing six pounds and nine ounces last September after his mum Laura Wilkes and dad Dan Rubenis had been told that he had sadly died a few days earlier.

Laura’s pregnancy had progressed well with no problems but she had contacted maternity triage after being concerned that she hadn’t felt the baby move.

"He had always been quite energetic so this was a sudden change that worried me. It was just intuition for me that something might be wrong and I ended up coming into hospital for a scan where it was confirmed that there was no longer any heartbeat.

"I was devastated but a part of me kept thinking maybe they’ve got it wrong. I was on my own because of the Covid-19 restrictions so I had to phone Dan to come to the hospital - to have to break that news over the phone to him was terrible."

Laura’s labour was induced and four days later Hudson was born.

"It was really important to me that he wasn’t delivered by caesarean. I just felt that the last thing I could do for Hudson was to give birth naturally and to keep him with me until he was ready to be delivered. It felt like I was doing that for our baby as his mum,” said Laura, who works in a hospice setting.

"He was perfect when he was born; he had really beautiful lips and we couldn’t get over how long he was, as we’re not the tallest parents.

"We spent five days with Hudson, doing all the things we would have been doing if things hadn’t turned out as they did. So we bathed him, talked to him, sang to him and held him. We couldn’t stop cuddling and kissing him."

Dan, a garage door fitter, said: “We were just cocooned together really, in our own little world, making memories. The staff were amazing, letting us take as much time as we needed and supporting us throughout.

“It was so important to us to be with Hudson but surreal at the same time too. It was never meant to be this way, us eventually leaving the hospital five days later without our baby.”

The couple, who live in Staffordshire, continued to be supported by Walsall Healthcare’s Specialist Bereavement Midwife Laura Atkinson which they found comforting. And as they started to talk about their loss with wider friends and family they decided to raise funds to help others.

Dan set up a GoFundMe page and people soon supported the cause, with one friend running half a marathon. They managed to raise £4,097 and have spent £1,760 on a new cuddle cot with the remainder going towards the refurbishment of a bereavement room for other parents.

Laura, 33, added: "The fundraising has definitely helped us while we grieve for Hudson and the little plaque that is on it means others will see his name and know he was a very special little boy."

Laura Atkinson from the hospital added: “This means the trust now has its full complement of cuddle cots – one each in delivery suite, neonatal and gynaecology. We are so grateful as maternity bereavement services rely on charities and fundraising which many people don’t realise."