Charlotte found out at her 20 week scan that her baby, Charlie, had a very rare, complex heart condition that meant he wouldn’t survive once he was born.
“I was given three options,” she says. “I could end the pregnancy, or wait for Charlie to be born and then let the doctors attempt operations that could possibly prolong his life—though there wasn’t any cure for his condition, or let nature take its course. I wasn’t prepared to end the pregnancy, and I didn’t want to put Charlie through the operations when there was no guarantee they would help him. So there was really only one option left to me.”
Charlotte went on to deliver Charlie, knowing that there wasn’t anything she or the doctors could do to change his prognosis. She was initially told that Charlie would likely only live a few hours or days; in the end, he lived for 19 days. In that time Charlotte had chance to take him home for a visit and, crucially, for Charlie to meet and spend time with his big brother Alfie.
Charlotte met Jessie May Nurses at a hospice where she was planning Charlie’s end-of-life care. From her meetings with Jessie May Nurses during Charlie’s life, Charlotte was introduced to the Purple Group, which is a support group set up by Jessie May for bereaved parents. The Purple Group allows parents to talk about their children in a safe space and share their experiences.
Charlotte says, “Listening to other parents talk about their children opened my eyes to what the wider family goes through when a child dies. My parents, for example, were grieving for the loss of their grandson, but also hurting for seeing me in so much pain. Realising this helped us talk about things and move through it together.”
Like all the parents Jessie May helps, Charlotte will have support from the Jessie May bereavement service for five years after Charlie passed away. She knows that the visits from Jessie May won’t be stopping any time soon.