A bereaved dad whose newborn daughter never made it home from hospital will run the 22-mile journey to raise awareness of baby loss.
Fraser Baxter, from Bathgate, was looking forward to the birth of his second daughter after wife Shelley’s easy pregnancy. When Shelley woke in the early hours of Wednesday, October 19 with mild labour pains, they dropped off their three-year-old daughter Jessica at her gran’s house before heading to St John’s Hospital in Livingston expecting a normal delivery.
Fraser said: “We were really excited thinking ‘this is it, our family of three is about to be four’.”
But things took a turn for the worse after it was discovered that doctors were struggling to find their baby’s heartbeat. Fraser, 37, said: “Lots of medical staff came rushing in. They said they had to deliver Jenna quickly.”
After Jenna was born she was taken away by doctors. Fraser said: “Shelley just wanted to see Jenna and kept asking where she was. The hospital staff said they were working on her and that’s when we began to worry. The look on their faces showed that everything wasn’t as it should be.”
After an agonising wait, a doctor came to tell the couple that their tiny daughter had to be resuscitated. Fraser said: “He told us that they only kept going because she took a gasp. It took the team 25 minutes to get her breathing.”
The family were transported to the Royal Infirmary by ambulance, but because Shelley, 36, had lost a lot of blood during the birth she had to travel separately.
The next morning family came to say goodbye to Jenna who was on life support, including big sister Jessica who sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Fraser said: “Jessica kissed her sister and sang to her. Those are memories we will cherish forever.”
Little Jenna Baxter was only a day old when she died peacefully in her parents arms. A post-mortem showed that she hadn’t been getting the oxygen she needed in the womb due to rare blood clots on the placenta.
This Saturday, just days before the anniversaries of his middle daughter’s birth and death, Fraser will run the 22 miles from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to the family home in Bathgate to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week.
He will be joined by friends and family, and Shelley, who will run the final 11 kilometres – an admirable feat after having youngest daughter Isabella six months ago.
This is the second year Fraser has run his Journey for Jenna in the effort to raise awareness of the vital work carried out by SANDS Lothian, the stillbirth and neonatal charity who still support Fraser and Shelley today. The event was such a success, with friends and supporters cycling or running alongside him, that Fraser decided to do it again this year.
Fraser admits he wasn’t a runner before, only taking it up in a bid to outrace his grief. He said: “What started as a form of escapism has ended up helping me and the mental health benefits have been tremendous. Running has played a major role in helping me cope with our new normal.”
The couple have raised around £13,000 for SANDS Lothian in the last two years through various events including Fraser running the Edinburgh Marathon in May and Shelley climbing Ben Nevis.