When Kellie Cunningham suffered the “unthinkable” heartache of her son’s stillbirth, she was supported through the pain by a team of bereaved parents.
Now, almost a year after delivering baby boy Henry, the 32-year-old is planning to show her gratitude to those Forth Valley Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths (Sands) volunteers by organising a sponsored 5k run on their behalf.
The Denny woman is also determined to use the event to raise awareness of a service which, Kellie says, has gone to great lengths to try to help her cope with such a devastating loss.
Kellie said: “If it wasn’t for Sands I would’ve struggled. Going to Sands makes me feel like I am not alone. It helps me to see how others have managed when faced with the unthinkable.”
Delivered on May 18, 2017, Henry Jamie Bond Cunningham’s heartbeat stopped on the day he was born. Nursery worker Kellie had complained to her midwife of feeling unwell the day previously, before being told tests had showed nothing was wrong.
However, still not feeling her normal self the following day, she visited Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s triage department where Kellie received the crushing news she had developed sepsis and was already in labour with her and then partner David’s son, whose heart was no longer beating.
Placenta tests later revealed Henry had been exposed to group B strep — a bacterial infection which can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and death after birth among babies.
Monthly Sands meet-ups at Forth Valley Spiritual Centre — along with information packs featuring memory boxes and hand and footprint kits — have proved vital in helping Kellie come to terms with her loss.
She added: “People need to have the confidence to speak about what happened. Speaking makes it a lot easier than pretending Henry didn’t exist.
“It makes it acceptable to hear other people are going through the exact same thing and the support is there if you’re going through this.
“If you find yourself in this position I would recommend making contact with Sands to see what support they are able to offer you.”
Kellie is inviting members of the public to take part in her 5k at Falkirk’s Callendar Park on Sunday, May 27, starting at 10.30am.
To donate, text HJBC98 £5 or £10 to 70070. Alternatively, go to https://trib.al/LVVb4Kg.
Sands holds its monthly meetings at Forth Valley Spiritual Centre on the second Wednesday of each month, from 7.30-9.30pm.
The charity also provides phone and text support to affected parents on 0845 834 0230 and 07748 656478 respectively.
Visit www.forthvalleysands.org.uk for more information.