A choir has been formed in memory of a stillborn girl, with the aim of helping other bereaved parents.
Philippa Davies’s daughter Sam was stillborn in January 2012 on “the best and worst day” of her life.
Afterwards Ms Davies, 49, from Mold, Flintshire, developed anxiety and struggled to leave the house.
Now, the charity she set up in her daughter’s memory has launched a choir, hoping to help break the “taboo” around talking about the loss of a child.
The playwright hopes that the choir, which will meet virtually due to coronavirus restrictions, will help support mothers and fathers and make them feel less alone.
“Because your baby isn’t breathing, it doesn’t mean that the parent isn’t any less proud,” she said, “those memories and that love stays with you forever.”
“You recognise their birthdays, you think about the times when they should be starting school, you never stop being a parent, it’s just you don’t have a baby to parent.”
After successful IVF, Phillipa found out she was pregnant and said it was the “greatest thing in the world”.
“My whole life I wanted to be a mum,” she said.
But, 20 weeks into Phillipa’s pregnancy, Sam was diagnosed as having Edwards’ Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder meaning babies have three copies of chromosome number 18 instead of two.
At 32 weeks, a scan showed she had no heartbeat and, in January 2012, Philippa was induced and Sam was stillborn at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
“She was beautiful, she weighed 1lb, she was a foot from head to toe,” she said, describing how they were able to spend precious hours with their daughter, cuddling her, and taking photos.
“Just because she wasn’t breathing, it wasn’t any different in terms of the fact it was the proudest day of my life. I know that sounds weird to a lot of people, but that was our daughter.”
The biology lecturer lost four other babies at different stages of pregnancy and developed anxiety and depression, and was eventually diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
“I put on a brave face in work, but other than that I couldn’t cope walking down the street, everywhere you went there was a reminder and a trigger. The more I avoided, the more phobias I developed,” she said.
“I was shopping in the supermarket at midnight, or doing it online, because there wasn’t a chance then I could bump into someone with a pram or a baby.”
Philippa said while she was offered support through her GP and the NHS, doctors had little understanding of baby loss and it intensified her anxiety and feelings of “failure”.
She was eventually referred for counselling at Hope House in Conwy, where she was given support and encouraged to write about her experiences.
Earlier this year her play, in memory of her daughter, Dancing in the Wings, premiered at Theatre Clwyd in Mold and she has now founded charity Our Sam.
Philippa hopes the choir, Our Stars, which is due to start rehearsals in November, will give people the chance to come together to help reduce isolation.
“There’s a huge number of people affected but it is still incredibly taboo,” said Philippa.
“Music brings people together, and it’s a fantastic way to say things without saying them.”