Couple’s plight to change law and prevent more heartache

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It’s hard to imagine the heart-wrenching pain of losing a child.

For Elland couple Lucy Black and Adam Hendry, that pain is all too real as they have endured the devastating deaths of their three babies.

Now the couple want to change the law so others don’t have to go through the same heartache.

Here, they tell their story.

Lucy and Adam’s first child, Matilda, was stillborn at 35 weeks. Less than one year later, little Joshua died just 30 minutes before he was born on February 18, followed two days later by his twin sister Harriet.

While she had shown signs of life when she was born, she sadly passed away just minutes later.

To add to their grief, they were told they could register Harriet but not Joshua, as he was stillborn before the 24-week mark and his birth was classed as a late miscarriage.

The pair had longed for a child together and were excited at the prospect of a sibling for Lucy’s six-year-old son Finley.

So when Lucy, 32, a teaching assistant at Siddal Primary School, fell pregnant with Matilda in early 2016, they were overjoyed.

But alarm bells started ringing just weeks before Matilda was due, when Lucy was unable to feel her move.

Following a hospital scan, doctors broke the horrific news that a heartbeat could not be found. Lucy then had to take medication to induce labour, knowing her baby would not be born alive.

“It was awful,” Lucy said. “She was so planned-for and wanted. We were really ready for her. It was a shock because everything had gone so well.”

Despite their horrendous ordeal and their fears after what had happened, the couple decided to try for another baby.

An early scan revealed Lucy was expecting twins, a moment she described as “scary and exciting”. Regular scans and close monitoring followed and after a 20-week scan revealed they were expecting a boy and a girl, Lucy allowed herself to relax.

She said: “Everyone kept saying how it was positive after everything we had gone through. I hadn’t believed it up until that point.”

Around one week later, Lucy began getting pains and after feeling like something wasn’t right decided to get it checked out at the hospital, where a scan showed the heartbeats of both babies were fine.

But the next morning, Lucy went back to the hospital suffering with bleeding. Her pains came back and Lucy was told she was in early labour.

A couple of days later, she had a scan which confirmed Joshua was ready to be born. When a midwife examined Lucy, Joshua was still moving, but when he was delivered half an hour later, he had tragically died.

Lucy could still feel Harriet moving and two days later, she was born showing signs of life, but died just minutes later.

“That was another devastating thing to see on top of everything else,” Lucy said. “You see her chest move, but they can’t do anything because she’s before 24 weeks.”

After losing the twins, the couple were then dealt the devastating blow they were able to register Harriet, as she had exhibited signs of life, but not Joshua, as he was classed as a late miscarriage.

The determined couple have now set up a petition to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953, so grieving families who suffer any kind of pregnancy loss before the 24-week mark have the option to have their baby registered.

Adam, 35, a property developer said: “Our petition is to ask for a voluntary register up to the milestone marker, whatever that is, so parents who want to register can and then after that, the law would pick it up exactly like it does now, with a mandatory registration.”

Lucy added: “A lot of people have contacted me and said they lost a baby at 17 weeks or 18 weeks, fully-formed, had to go through labour and give birth, and it’s already like a part of their family.

“If Finley’s children or children’s children went to research our family tree, they would know about Matilda and Harriet, but they would never know about Joshua.

“It’s wrong. From having Matilda, I’d always said I wanted something positive to come out of something negative.

“I think you can go one way or the other and we’re trying our very best, as much as it is really hard some days, to get up and try and find the positives. I think that’s the only way to get through it really.”

The petition now has more than 5,000 signatures. View it here