Last week, in the House of Commons, MP Sharon Hodgson broke down as she revealed her agony of being told her stillborn daughter, Lucy, who was born 20 years ago at 23 weeks + 5 days did not ‘officially exist’. That is because under UK law, parents are not given a birth or death certificate if the child is not born alive before 24 weeks’ gestation.
Although the passing of her daughter was not as far as I’m aware related to a Group B Strep infection, listening to her plea hit home with us and got us thinking about what she is asking for. Her little girls heart had beat through most of her labour and she held her babies motionless body in her arms in hospital.
It surely cannot be questioned that indelible memory is fact that her daughter indeed existed.
MP Sharon Hodgson, 02/02/18
Our daughter, Mia was born alive at 25+5 weeks (2 weeks older than Lucy) and lived for 22 minutes, therefore she ticked all the boxes to be classed as having ‘officially existed’ therefore her birth and death would be registered and entitled to a funeral. She would of course take her place on the Osborne family tree, alongside her other siblings. Being told that her daughter did not exist would undoubtedly have haunted Mrs Hodgson for the past 20 years and her bravery in speaking out cannot be underestimated. We discussed what if Mia had been born stillborn and before 25 weeks, it would change everything and its hard, perhaps impossible to comprehend.
However, we believe that another side to this exists, where a baby is stillborn (as with Lucy) or passes away soon after birth (as with Mia) it can lead to bereaved parents expecting others around them to understand how they feel. We probably did that, is that fair? Whilst I know our family and friends have always been supportive over her death they never met her, never held her, never witnessed the awful devastation that night. Maybe we have asked too much.
That upon reflection is another reason why we feel that something must be done about tragic stories like Lucy, no doubt Sharon Hodgson has a sacred photo of her daughter, even though by law she ‘never existed’.
We truly hope that one day soon, this law is changed in the UK because nobody will ever convince us and more importantly Mrs Hodgson that Lucy like many, many others did not exist.