By Natalie Copeland
A King’s Lynn couple are set to tackle a half-marathon in memory of their baby daughter Eliza, who was stillborn.
Sarah and Liam Chapman, both 33, will be running 13 miles on Sunday at Peterborough’s Great Eastern Run to raise money for Tommy’s, a charity which funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
“Should we be blessed with Eliza’s baby brother or sister one day, we would then be monitored at Tommy’s in Manchester,” said Mrs Chapman, who is a teacher at St Martha’s Catholic Primary School in Lynn.
Mrs Chapman discovered she was expecting a baby last spring.
“We were so pleased, so excited. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. I was low risk so had the usual scans at 12 and 20 weeks. My pregnancy was really good, pretty much textbook.
“I went to all the groups like the NCT Bumps and Babies and Lactation Motivation and parenting classes. I was the one in the room with a pen and notebook making lists,” she said.
Five days over her due date, Mrs Chapman went into labour on February 17 and went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn.
“I was timing the contractions, we were so excited, we would be having our baby soon,” she said.
However, midwives could not hear the baby’s heartbeat when they used a Doppler listening device so a consultant was called to scan Mrs Chapman.
“He looked at me with kind, yet sad eyes and said he was sorry, he couldn’t see a heart beat. My husband saw the screen and it was just still. I didn’t know what to say. We were in total shock.”
Hours later, Eliza Jane was born after a natural birth.
“After the puffing and panting and all the work, the room was silent. You could hear a pin drop. I was scared. But we held Eliza and we fell in love with her. We spent the night with her. They (the hospital staff) couldn’t do enough for us,” she said.
Investigations revealed Eliza had suffered a very rare fetal-maternal haemorrhage.
Mrs Chapman said: “It’s so rare, there is hardly any information about it. We were very unlucky.”
Days later, the pram and car seat was returned to the store, a planned newborn photo-shoot was cancelled and parenting groups ceased.
“My body had a baby, my milk came in. All of a sudden, I felt isolated,” recalled Mrs Chapman.
Since their trauma, the grieving couple have vowed to “speak Eliza’s name proudly” and to share their story in a bid to help others in a similar situation.
So far, they have raised more than £6,000 for Theresa’s Tiny Treasures, a charity which provides keepsakes for families who have lost a baby.
Mrs Chapman said: “There’s a quote I like to say: ‘It’s a dance between joy and grief.’ I miss her, there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t cry for that little girl. But I’m also thankful we had her. She changed us for the better and made us better people.”
At dusk on Monday, King’s Lynn Town Hall will be lit up in pink to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Sponsor the couple at justgiving.com/fundraising/blaw18elizajane