KILDRESS woman Jane Love lost her baby son Adam 14 years ago, but the heartbreak is still as raw today as it was then.
On April 12th, 1998 baby Adam was born at 16 weeks and five days old.
Too premature to survive, he lived for just 30 seconds before peacefully passing away in his mother’s arms.
It’s a moment the 43 year-old will cherish for the rest of her life, and an experience that has driven her to help other women through their loss whether through miscarriage, birth and beyond.
Jane is part of an on-line group which supports women like herself who have suffered the loss of a baby, and provide an everlasting memory of their ‘angel babies’.
‘Bears for an Angel’, set up by English woman Michelle Dayson, who too lost three babies to miscarriage, is a non-profit organisation that provides memorials and ‘Certificates of Life’ for the children that never got the chance to grow up.
And County Tyrone woman Jane is helping to raise funds, and awareness of the page, after recently being appointed a page administrators.
Today, she is doing exactly that by sharing her story of loss.
Jane said: “You find that the health service talk bout cancer awareness; awareness of this, and awareness of that, but never baby loss, despite the fact that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s so common but yet there is nothing there for women, no counselling, nothing.”
“It’s very sad as so many women go though the guilt that comes with miscarriage, or losing a child, their whole lives.
“I refused to talk about it for a long time because I blamed myself. You have a miscarriage, and whether its happened through an accident or natural causes, you always feel that you have done something wrong to cause it.
“Did I not rest enough? Did I eat or drink something I shouldn’t have? And you do feel guilty, and to this day, 14 years down the line I still feel guilty, even though I know I shouldn’t.”
Jane, who is a sales assistant in ASDA, Cookstown, is blessed with two healthy children, and three step-children, but has suffered not only the death of her middle-child Adam, but has also several miscarriages.
“A lot were quite early in the pregnancy,” explains Jane.
“I don’t really talk about those, I know it sounds blase but because I held Adam and kissed him and watched him die, that hit me the hardest. It’s taken me up until recently to talk about it.
“My son, John who is now 15, also had a twin and I found out that I had lost him when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
“At the time, I didn’t think much of it because I was more concerned about getting through the pregnancy with John after that. But it all hit me afterwards.”
Jane joined the ‘Bears for an Angel’ page after seeking comfort in other women who too lost babies in similar circumstances. Since then her contribution to the page, and the social networking community, has went from strength to strength and she is now one of the Facebook page administrators. The young mum has also just began making ‘angel rings’, which are auctioned on the website and Facebook page to raise funds for helping other families through bereavement.
“The page was started by Michelle Dayson, who suffered baby loss three times. She was inspired to make the page in memory of her angel babies Tayten, Teagan and Zane, and to raise funds for women who lose children,” explains Jane.
You get a certificate of life along with a bear in memory of your angel baby. All the page asks is that you pay £5 towards the next bear for someone else but because she’s trying to get funding, but we can’t ask for funding any more, so at the moment we just ask for the postage.”
“At the minute we are having our May auction, where people donate gifts to raise cash and others bid on them.
“About eight weeks ago I started making the rings, and I thought they would also be a beautiful memory for anyone who has lost a baby or child. I have made some for family and friends who have lost babies. So I now have a few on auction on the ‘Bears for an Angel’ site. There’s big ones, small ones and I have made some key rings as well. It gives me something to do”
As well as raising awareness of baby loss, Jane also does her bit for older children in the community. Each month she joins a group of volunteers from the Watch House charity, on the streets of Cookstown and looks after drunken teenagers.
“They way I look at it is I have two teenage kids,” says Jane. “God forbid they are found in that state and I hope that someone would be there looking after them they way that we do.”
“We are hoping to get T-shirts so that people know who we are when we are walking up and down the street. There are so many drunk children, and they need to looked after.”
Last month Jane, quietly celebrated what would have been her son’s 14th birthday.
“I let off a sky lantern at one minute past midnight and watched it go up in the air and remembered something that I had heard two years after Adam had passed away.
“That in heaven there is a house specifically for babies, where nurses look after them and bring them up, it brings me so much comfort that one day I will see my boy and will hold my boy again.”