For the babies who didn't make it home: Neonatal Remembrance Day

This is for the babies who did not make it home from the neonatal unit.

The babies who fought with every scrap of their tiny being.

The babies who showed the grown ups what real strength and courage is like.

The babies who fought and fought until they could fight no more.

The babies who live on in our hearts and our minds, rather than in our arms.

The babies who do not get to play, go to the park, the seaside, to school.

The babies who do not get to grow up.

They are precious, every one.

They will never be forgotten.


This is for their mummies and daddies.

We lived in such hope.

Hope that our baby would defy the odds.

That we would be the lucky ones to be taking our baby home.

That our baby’s incredible story of survival against all the odds would one day adorn the unit’s wall.

We spent so many hours holding vigil next to our baby’s incubator.

Reading, singing, telling them about everything we had to look forward to doing together.

Learning all the cares, fingers and thumbs with the nappy change.

Helping with the feeds.

Looking forward to the cuddles, making do with comfort holds.

Leaving reluctantly every night.

The exhaustion had long ago sunk deep in to your muscles, your bones –

As if you would never again not feel tired.

But you know you must rest, to fight another day for your baby.

Saying goodnight, wondering if that would be the last time you would see them.

Telling them to behave for the nurses.

Going to sleep with the sound of the alarms ringing in your ears. The good alarms as well as the bad.

Sleeping with one ear alert, in case the phone should ring.

Sleeping poised to jump out of bed in case you were needed.

Trying to get your head around complex medical terms – complicated by your sleep-deprived foggy brain.

Getting through one crisis, and hoping there will not be another.

That your baby will avoid infection, further problems, to grow, get bigger, stronger.

Thinking, hoping, praying, just like all the other parents that this will all be worth it because you will take your baby home.

This will be an amazing story to marvel over when your baby is bigger.

But the news gets worse.

The doctors are running out of options.

You begin to avoid them, because you know they will have news you do not want to hear.

You get called in to the special room.

You hear the news no parent ever wants to hear.

You will never be taking your baby home.

You have to make decisions no parent ever wants to make.

You have to be a good parent to your baby.

You tell them how much you love them as they breathe their last.

You have to say goodbye.

You have to leave your baby behind.

Your heart is broken.

You do not take your baby home.

You are filled with ‘what ifs’.

You torment yourself with wondering whether you made the right decision.

You wonder what would have happened if only there was more time.

The beeps from those bloody alarms reverberate around your head.

You did not know it was possible to feel such pain, such sorrow, such emptiness.

All your hope has gone.

All you have are memories, photographs, videos.

Treasured, every one.

But they will never be enough.

They are no substitute for taking your baby home.

But they have to be enough.

They remind you of how beautiful your baby was.

Of the special moments.

You know you would do it all again.

Because it means you could see your precious baby again.

But you wish there could be a director’s cut to this remake of the story.

We don’t like the ending to the original story.

We want a different ending.

A happy ending.

One that makes us cry with joy instead of sorrow.

But life is not a film. Life is not Hollywood.

Life can be cruel, life can be heartless.

Life can take our much-loved, much-loved babies away from us.

But you also know that life is fragile, life is precious, life is beautiful.

You know that nothing in life is guaranteed.

We are irrevocably changed.

We celebrate our babies’ short lives. We makes sure they are always remembered, never forgotten.

We try to make the best of our lives.

We do our best to honour the life so cruelly denied to our babies.

It is the least we can do for them after they fought so hard.

After they showed us what true love means.






13 Comments on For the babies who didn't make it home: Neonatal Remembrance Day

  1. Marion
    October 2, 2016 at 4:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Crying 😭 for Megan Marie. I love you and miss you every day.

  2. Kayleigh Frost
    October 18, 2014 at 11:45 pm (6 years ago)

    This brought back all the sad times back when my little one was in NICU. She was born at 24 weeks + 1 day. She lived for 3 weeks, she got NEC and me and my partner had to make the most heartbreaking decision ever to let her go. It was not nice seeing your own baby slip away in your arms, taking their last breaths. I am glad I got to see her and spend time with her when she was here. Miss her so much, it’s coming up to our 2nd year since she passed.

    • Leigh Kendall
      October 19, 2014 at 8:28 am (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand completely about the horror of seeing your own baby slip away in your arms. Like you, I am glad I got to see my baby and spend time with him while he was here. Love and hugs xxx

  3. Katie / Pouting In Heels
    October 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm (6 years ago)

    Beautiful, heartfelt and moving as always. Thinking of you and Hugo today xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 29, 2014 at 8:38 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you. Much love to you xxx

  4. Lisa Greenwood
    September 28, 2014 at 3:13 am (6 years ago)

    I have thought,felt and been thru every single word of this post !!!’ My son was born with a congenital heart defect and he lived 2 weeks 6 days and 4 hours longer than the doctors expected him to !!! He was a fighter and he did fight with every thing he had in him to live but his little body just got tired !!! I miss him every single day for over 19 years I think about him every single day I may not show it or even say it but he is always on my mind !!! I even wonder who he would be today if he was here with me I wonder who he would have looked or acted like me or his daddy would he be a football player or a rock star all those things cross my mind all the time !!!! I believe I will see him again one day !!!! RIP Christopher Oneal Greenwood !!!!

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 28, 2014 at 11:18 am (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about your son. Thank you for sharing your story with me xxx

    • Linda Pye
      October 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm (6 years ago)

      My little girl was born after a long almost day long labour and at full term. I had had a feeling something was wrong all through my pregnancy but the doctors and midwives all said she was fine. Even when the doctor went to put a scalp monitor on her during labour she moved away from it and I knew she didn’t want to be born. She was born not breathing properly and they worked on her in the corridor before getting her breathing ok and she was rushed off to the SCBU. I was never able to hold her until she died and I used to sit and stroke her leg through the incubator porthole as that was the only bit not covered with tubes or something or other. She died after 36 hours when I had been to see her ( I was on the normal ward as I couldn’t take the beeps of the machine which were going off frequently) but I did go down to the unit often during the few hours I was there, then I would retreat back to the ward where I pulled the curtains around me. The last time I saw her she was really struggling and I just said a prayer “Please God if you want me to have her let her be alright and not suffer anymore, if you want her then please take he quickly to end her suffering. Amen” then I gave her a last kiss with my fingers and went back to the ward where I asked to go home. They phoned my husband and while I was waiting for him the midwife who delivered her came to tell me she had just passed away. The nurse had just checked on her, went to another baby and then realised she had gone peacefully, thank God. The staff were all devastated and they had tried so hard. She had been baptised by our local vicar on the Saturday night ( a few hours after her birth) early hours of Sunday morning in a very moving and emotional service, all the staff were in tears with us. She passed away on the Monday morning. Apparently the vicar had told the congregation on the Sunday morning that she had been born and then had to tell them she was seriously ill. Thanks to the staff for all they did for Dorothy and her family. xx

      • Leigh Kendall
        October 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm (6 years ago)

        I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the story of your precious daughter with us xxx


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on For the babies who didn't make it home: Neonatal Remembrance Day

  1. For Your Consideration: Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2015 | Headspace Perspective says:

    […] poetry and prose, as well as awareness-raising articles. Some posts for your consideration include: For the Babies Who Didn’t Make It Home; The Option for Compassionate End-of-Life Care; Giving My 18 Year Old Self A Good Talking To; Do […]

  2. […] For the babies who didn’t make it home: Neonatal Remembrance Day. This post is one that kind of wrote itself, and grew its own legs. With more than 10,000 shares on Facebook, I am sorry that it resonates with so many other parents. Too many other broken hearts, too many dreams shattered. […]

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