“Is this you going to get the baby, mum?”, called out Carol Greer’s two-year-old daughter as she was leaving home.

Carol had been discharged from Ayrshire Maternity Hospital at Irvine Central having given birth to her stillborn daughter, also named Carol.

She thought she had explained to her toddler, Laura Jane, that she would never see her baby sister.

But when Carol had to return to hospital with a haematoma, Laura Jane wanted to know.

“She completely threw me. It was one of the hardest things”, Carol said.

Irvine Times: A memorial for Carol's lost babyA memorial for Carol's lost baby

The 55-year-old lost her baby 31 years ago and although she said it is never something you get over, it is something you learn to live with.

Having given birth to Laura Jane two years and nine months before, and having had a pregnancy with no complications, losing her baby did not seem possible.

She knew that you could lose babies, one of her sister’s friends had suffered the trauma.

She always feared it would happen, and then her baby stopped moving at 41 weeks.

At the hospital, they put her on monitors but said they would not have an answer until the next day.

She said: “I had to ask them had my baby died. I had all night to think about it.

“I was walking about, I went into the nursery and I think I knew deep in myself that she had passed.”

After labour, Carol was handed her newborn.

“All she had to do was open her eyes”, she said, “It’s the hardest thing I ever went through, and the most difficult, horrific thing to happen to anybody.”

Irvine Times: A portrait of baby CarolA portrait of baby Carol

In 1989, Ayrshire Sands was a small group supporting women who had lost babies.

Carol found support and fundraising for the charity helped, especially in the beginning.

“When you first lose, you have all the milestones that people that were pregnant at the same time as you have,” Carol said talking of birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations.

But sharing the trauma helps tackle the taboo that still surrounds baby loss and the bonds she has made through Ayrshire Sands are lifetime friendships. Baby Loss Awareness Week earlier this month saw monuments lit up and women share their stories and, Carol said, so much has improved over the last three decades.

Irvine Times: The Portal lit up for Baby Loss Awareness WeekThe Portal lit up for Baby Loss Awareness Week

Ayrshire Sands set-up a dedicated bereavement room, giving those that need it privacy away from the maternity ward where you can hear babies crying.

Whereas in the past, mothers might have nothing to remember their child by, now the charity helps make sure each woman has a ‘memory box’.

Carol went on to have three more children, and she made sure to raise them with the knowledge of their sister.

Carol’s experience is part of her, and through it she has been able to help hundreds of other women with their trauma.

Irvine Times: Carol and her four grown-up childrenCarol and her four grown-up children

Ayrshire Sands was formed in 1988 when it was realised that there was very little support for bereaved families in Ayrshire.

Since then the charity has worked to raise awareness and to improve facilities and support for those who experience the loss of a baby.

Everyone involved with Ayrshire Sands is a bereaved parent or grandparent and understands how it feels to lose a baby.

The charity holds monthly support meetings, normally on the first Monday evening of each month between 8pm and 10pm in the Education Centre at University Hospital, Crosshouse. However, due to Covid they are not holding these at the moment, but have replaced them with virtual support meetings using the Zoom platform and Walk’n’Talk meetings outside when requested.

The charity also runs a befriending service offering someone to talk to when you want to talk, who will understand how you are feeling because they have been there, and who will listen for as long as you wish to talk. Befrienders are always available at Ayrshire Sands support meetings, but they can also provide support by home visits (cancelled for the mean time due to COVID) as many newly bereaved parents feel more comfortable talking in their own home. Befrienders can also offer telephone support.

Ayrshire Sands offers support no matter how long ago your loss occurred. There are befrienders who are long ago bereaved themselves and understand the way feelings can change over time.

In some cases where a baby was buried some time ago but the parents were not told where, the charity may be able to locate the baby.

You can find out more at ayrshiresands.org/