London Marathon man runs to keep alive memory of stillborn daughter


When Amy Abrams went for a routine check-up a week before her first baby’s due date, she and husband Jonathan were devastated to be told that doctors could not detect a heartbeat.

“All of a sudden we were in a different place,” Mr Abrams recalled. “Our lives changed forever.”

Daughter Arella was stillborn in June 2012 and Mr Abrams is running the London Marathon on Sunday to raise money for maternity services at the Whittington Hospital in north London as a thank you for the specialist counselling he and his wife received.

The 38-year-old solicitor said he wanted to help other couples in the same situation.

“We had normal plans like anyone else expecting a baby. “Then suddenly we were told there was no heartbeat and Amy was [still] going to have to go through the physical trauma of giving birth.

“There were no words, no remedies — nothing I could do to change our outcome. The feeling of helplessness was almost overwhelming. We got to spend a few hours with Arella. The midwives took handprints and footprints and a piece of her hair was cut.

“We took a few pictures. But we left the hospital empty handed. From the moment we were told our baby had died, we were greeted and treated with the utmost care and respect.

The Abrams are indebted to their bereavement midwife for getting them through the experience — and the “terrifying ordeal” of another pregnancy a year later (the couple now have two daughters). “They were fantastic.  They understood all our fears.

“If we wanted an extra scan we got it. They did everything they could to make us comfortable.”

Mr Abrams felt “lucky” in one sense because “not all hospitals have allocated funds for a bereavement midwife. For those that do, many are not up to the standard we experienced.

“We have met many bereaved parents, none of whom had the vital lifeline we did. Many get one visit from the community midwife and then are left to somehow get through it alone.”

The Mill Hill United Synagogue member has already raised £10,000 in sponsorship for his first marathon.

“Some of the money will help the hospital to fund a cuddle cot which allows bereaved parents to spend time with their babies,” he explained.

Mr Abrams has been training three times a week since January.

“I decided that this was a time in my life when I could take on the training commitment.” It was also a way of keeping Arella’s memory alive. 

“I often think about what she would look like, who she was going to become, what job might she have done.

“By raising money in her name, it’s a way of acknowledging her and giving her a legacy.

“Arella is still a huge part of our lives and though we are still finding our way around the gaping hole her passing left, we count our blessings daily and are thankful for what we have been given.”

See all our coverage of the 2017 London Marathon here

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