A heartbroken mother has revealed how she’s kept her stillborn daughter’s intended nursery untouched – and even moved her other child into it so she can ‘share a room’ with the memory of her sister.
Lauren Spartley, 24, and her fiancé Jake Regan, 27, from Malvern, Worcestershire, had a ‘dreamy’ pregnancy with their first child but tragedy struck at 39 weeks, when Lauren noticed her baby had stopped moving in the womb.
After doctors searched for a heartbeat, Lauren and Jake’s worlds were shattered to be told that their daughter, Maisie, was stillborn.
Lauren Spartley, 24, from Malvern, Worcestershire, and her partner Jake Regan tragically lost their first daughter Maisie after doctors failed to find a heartbeat at 39 weeks. The couple have since gone on to have a second daughter, Mollie
Pain: Lauren pictured with stillborn daughter Maisie, who stopped breathing while still in the womb, and was delivered deceased at 39 weeks
Exactly as it was: The wardrobe full of clothes intended for baby Maisie remains untouched, but now sister Mollie shares the nursery
Just five weeks after Maisie’s funeral, the grieving couple discovered they were expecting again and ‘rainbow baby’ Mollie was born healthy on May 3rd this year weighing exactly the same as her sister – 6 lbs 4oz.
In a bid to keep their first daughter’s memory alive, Lauren and Jake chose to keep half of the room as if Maisie was using it with her name on the wall.
The room is split in half, with teddy bears for both girls, two full wardrobes – one including Maisie’s unworn clothes and one for Mollie to use.
An ‘M’ on the door symbolises that the room is still intended for both little girls.
Lauren explains: ‘People ask if it’s difficult having another girl but it’s not. I get to see through Mollie what it would have been like watching Maisie grow and when she smiles, it’s like I’m looking at her sister as well.
‘After Maisie died, instead of feeling like we had to change the nursery, we kept everything exactly the same. We wanted to keep her memory alive.
‘Maisie’s name is on the wall, her clothes are in the wardrobe. We just divided the room in two so Mollie can share a bedroom with her sister.
‘I believe that Mollie is here because Maisie wanted her to be. She must have been watching over her making sure everything went okay.
The family decided to keep Maisie’s name on the wall of the nursery so sister Mollie would grow up knowing she had a sister
Little Mollie pictured inside the cot that had originally been intended for her older sister Maisie
‘Maisie will always be our daughter and Mollie will grow up knowing she has a big sister in heaven. I hope she goes to school and tells her friends about her.’
When forensic administrator Lauren found out she was pregnant she had been using the contraceptive pill however had been feeling sick so decided to take the test as a precaution.
Lauren said: ‘We were both really shocked and nervous but so excited. Once it had sunk in we were over the moon and so were our families.
‘My pregnancy was an absolute dream. A lot of women don’t enjoy being pregnant but I loved it. Maisie was healthy and every scan showed she was growing properly.
Lauren’s dream pregnancy ended in tragedy as Maisie died suddenly without explanation at 39 weeks but the family decided keeping the nursery exactly as it was was the best way to pay tribute to their daughter
Now little Mollie shares her room with the memory of her sister, with Maisie’s intended possessions all around her
‘At 39 weeks and two days I had some really bad stomach cramps and a bit of a leak so I called the midwife and she told me it sounded like I was in early labour.
‘I had a bath, Maisie was moving around like she usually would, and I went to bed.
After another 20 minutes of looking, the doctor turned to us and said ‘I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat’. I just remember grabbing my belly, falling to the floor and screaming…
‘But when I woke up in the morning, Maisie wasn’t moving which can happen when babies move into the birth canal so I called the midwife and she said to come in.
‘When I called Jake to tell him he needed to take me into hospital, I was so excited because I thought ‘this is it, we’re going to meet our little girl’.
‘The nurse came in with a device they use to listen to the baby’s heart. She was trying for about 20 minutes but I thought Maisie was just being naughty and hiding so they decided to do a scan.
‘After another 20 minutes of looking the doctor turned to us and said ‘I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat’. I just remember grabbing my belly, falling to the floor and screaming.
‘Jake came over to comfort me and we just sat on the floor for 15 minutes in silence while I clutched my tummy. We just couldn’t get our heads around it.
Watchful eye: Mollie was born healthy via c-section, which Lauren believes is thanks to Maisie watching over her from heaven
The couple bathed stillborn Maisie and cared for her after Lauren gave birth to her
‘Leaving the hospital without Maisie was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. My arms felt so empty. I had carried a baby for nine months and then gone home with nothing.
‘Jake agreed we should start trying again and we were so fortunate. I know some women really struggle so I am really grateful that we got pregnant with Mollie so soon.’
Even though Maisie had been completely healthy, Lauren’s placenta had been too small and so wasn’t providing her baby with the oxygen she needed to survive.
After Maisie’s birth on July 7 2016, first-time parents Lauren and Jake spent two days in hospital with their daughter’s body, dressing her, bathing her, cuddling her – and even had a full family photo shoot with their tot and her grandparents.
Floral tributes from Maisie’s funeral; Lauren says she found it immensely difficult to move on from her daughter’s tragic birth but needed to be pregnant again
Maisie was cremated on July 28 2016 after a small ceremony and Lauren and Jake keep her ashes in a little pink box at home ‘where she should be’.
Both devastated by the loss of their daughter, Lauren was able to find comfort in talking about Maisie while window fitter Jake struggled with the pressure to be the ‘stoic man’.
Lauren is now determined to share her story to help people understand that even though Maisie isn’t living, she is still her daughter and she is still proud of her.
Lauren said: ‘After being told Maisie had died, I got another heart-breaking blow when they told me I would have to give birth to her.
‘Labour took ages. My body was just fighting it. I didn’t want to do it, I wanted to keep her in my belly forever.
After losing Maisie, I knew I just needed to be pregnant again. I needed a baby. It doesn’t lessen the loss of Maisie…
‘When I eventually gave birth and they handed Maisie to me it was just devastating. I held her on my chest, staring at her for 15 minutes thinking ‘come on, open your eyes, breathe’.
‘It was so hard to accept that such a perfect little baby had just died.
‘Jake and I spent the next two days in hospital with Maisie. Even though it was the worst time of our lives, those days were so special.
‘Getting to cuddle her, bathe her and dress her – those memories will always mean the world to us. We took prints of her hands and feet. And our families all came to meet her.
‘The grieving was process was so difficult. One of the hardest parts for me was the comments you get from people like ‘you’ll be a great mum one day’ or ‘I’m sure you’ll have another one’.
‘People are trying to help but they just don’t realise how hurtful that is to hear. Maisie might not have been living but that didn’t make me any less of a mum.
‘This is why baby loss is something that needs to be talked about so much more. There’s such a lack of awareness.
Lauren found her second pregnancy plagued by anxiety over the health of her unborn daughter but Mollie was delivered safely at 37 weeks
‘It’s the same when I share photos of her. There are people out there that give you abuse for it saying ‘why would I want to see a photo of a dead baby’ but that’s my daughter.
‘I am so proud of her and I think she is beautiful. I have as much right as the mum of a living baby to share those pictures.’
During her second pregnancy Lauren had to go to hospital for monitoring three times a week, have scans every four weeks and spent the entire nine months consumed by anxiety and fear.
Despite doctors’ concerns Lauren’s placenta would fail again, Mollie was born healthy via caesarean which the mum-of-two believes is thanks to Maisie watching over her from heaven.
Lauren and Jake, who have been together for five and a half years, keep photos of Maisie around their home, have a memorial shelf in their bedroom – and are determined to raise Mollie so she knows she has a big sister.
Lauren said: ‘My second pregnancy was awful. I was excited but it was overshadowed by fear and anxiety. I was convinced the same was going to happen again.
Lauren says of the untouched nursery: ‘Maisie’s name is on the wall, her clothes are in the wardrobe. We just divided the room in two so Mollie can share a bedroom with her sister’
‘I was so stressed and then I was terrified that the stress was going to be bad for the baby. I just felt completely helpless because I had no control over whether my placenta would fail again.
‘The level of care I received was absolutely amazing and we agreed I would have a c-section at 37 weeks. Where I had wanted to keep Maisie in my tummy, I couldn’t wait to get Mollie out.
‘When I gave birth to Mollie I was just in shock. I kept asking ‘is she breathing?’ even though I could hear her crying.
‘I never anticipated holding a living baby or being able to bring her home. It was incredible.
‘My body was absolutely exhausted after basically 18 months of being pregnant but for the first time in ages I felt like I could relax, this massive weight was lifted.
‘I never feel guilty for having her. I know some women do feel too guilty about getting pregnant again but they shouldn’t. I wish I could tell them all just to relax and do what feels right for them.
‘After losing Maisie, I knew I just needed to be pregnant again. I needed a baby. It doesn’t lessen the loss of Maisie.’