A heartbroken mum whose two baby boys died shortly after birth is trying to raise money to create a permanent memorial in their memory. Rachel Roche and her husband Joe were struck by devastating news in 2019, when they were told their newborn son Patrick would not be going home.
Rachel was aware of little Patrick’s life-limiting heart condition before he was born, and spent precious moments cradling him before he was taken to a special care baby unit. Born at 27 weeks, and weighing just 1lb 13oz, he was sadly too small for the life saving surgery he needed, and passed away peacefully hours later, North Wales Live reports.
The couple, from Llandudno Junction, suffered every parent’s nightmare, and when they were told they were expecting again a year later, they believed they had been given a second chance. Tragically, it was not to be the case, and the arrival of their second baby boy Shea would also end in heartbreak.
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Back in May 2019, Rachel was looking forward to becoming a mum, but was soon taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd. There she was told her membrane had ruptured and because of Patrick’s heart defect, she was referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital and kept under observation.
Three days later, Patrick was born and was taken to the neonatal unit. Speaking previously to North Wales Live, she said: “He was beautiful and I fell in love.” But soon came the crushing news from doctors. Patrick was premature, and therefore too small for the surgery that could save his life.
She said: “I said he’s fighting and wouldn’t let them give up, I demanded rescanning and everything. Every day the doctors were having meetings with us about letting him go and I just couldn’t.
“But after eight days they said they were withdrawing intensive care.” The next day, Patrick was brought into a private room where his mum and dad spend his last hours making memories, kissing, cuddling and singing to their beloved son.
“I just wanted that day to last forever, but Patrick began to squirm and looked like he was in pain – we didn’t want to see him suffer,” said Rachel. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but they removed his tube and we sat on the bed together and held our beautiful boy until he passed away peacefully in my arms.”
When Rachel found out she was expecting again a year later, she was “terrified but hopeful” at the prospect of giving birth again. “I made sure we got all the scans and had the baby’s heart checked for defects,” she said.
She said: “At 20 weeks, we were given the amazing news that it was another boy and that his heart was healthy. I cried so much, we were so happy, he was our little miracle. Even though I was still scared about going into early labour, I was enjoying my pregnancy this time as the first was just dread and fear.”
But soon Rachel started getting “tightenings” when she was 25 weeks pregnant. She had a feeling that something was wrong, so she and Joe went immediately to the maternity unit.
“It all happened so quickly,” she said. “I remember there being about seven or eight different doctors, nurses and midwives all around me trying to get steroids etc into me and telling me to push.
“My waters burst and as they did Shea flipped himself around and was breach. I was really struggling to push him out and they prepped me for an emergency c-section but as they wheeled my to theatre, I had the urge to push.
“I pushed and he was born on March 1 weighing 1lb 9oz and taken straight to the special care baby unit where whey worked on him. He was okay, very small and quite bruised but he was alive.”
The consultants at the hospital said that baby Shea was a “fighter”, because he was kicking his arms and legs in protest while they tried to get wires into him, explained Rachel. After they got him stable, he was referred to Arrowe Park Hospital for further treatment and started to show signs of improvement.
But sadly, when he was just one week old, the couple’s world came crumbling down once more when medics said that they couldn’t stabilise Shea’s blood pressure and his stats were “dangerously low”. Rachel and Joe were warned that despite him being on medication and a ventilator, their baby’s stats could continue to get worse and send him into cardiac arrest.
She said: “Unlike Patrick, I never got to hold Shea after he was born because he couldn’t tolerate being handled as it would make his stats drop. With Patrick, we knew what the outcome was going to be as we cuddled him, but with Shea, there was hope they could save his life.
“We knew that if they got him out of his incubator, he would pass away instantly. He died in his incubator after going into cardiac arrest.”
Since then, Rachel has gone on to have a beautiful baby girl after successfully having a cervical stitch operation, which helped solved an undiagnosed problem that Rachel said contributed to Patrick and Shea’s passing. Although she is now enjoying motherhood, she will never forget her two darling baby boys.
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds for headstones for both Patrick and Shea, which will cost in the region of £5,000, but Rachel said they’ll never be able to raise such an amount on their own in these current times.
She said: “I’ve since gone on to have a beautiful baby girl thanks to a cervical stitch, I’m now looking to complete our boys’ resting place and give them headstones like they deserve, but £5,000 pounds is so much money to find, so I’m just asking for a little help, I hate to ask because life is so expensive as it is, but £5,000 pounds is a lot of money to find on our own.”
If you wish to donate something that will go towards Patrick and Shea’s headstones,a link to Rachel’s GoFundMe can be found here. To receive news from across Wales to your inbox subscribe to our newsletters here.