Charlotte and Melvyn Markham from Kesgrave received care and support through The Treehouse in Ipswich when their son Elliot passed away at just a few hours old. Elliot’s older brother, Louis also received support during this time.
At Charlotte’s 20 week scan Elliot was diagnosed with a condition called Trisomy 18, which is a serious genetic condition caused by an additional copy of chromosome18 in some or all of the cells in the body. Charlotte and Melvyn were told there was nothing they could do to save Elliot and that he was unlikely to survive the full pregnancy.
Charlotte explained: “As we neared the end of the pregnancy we were contacted by The Treehouse and asked if we were aware of what services they could offer us - we weren’t, we had no idea. I always remember driving past the sign for the old hospice, thinking how awful it must be to have a child that needed to use the services, thinking of the hospice being an extremely sad and scary place to be. Little did I know how wrong I was, how limited my knowledge was and how I had made a judgement based on what I saw on the outside.
“We met with staff from the hospice and put together a care plan for Elliot. Finally, it felt as though there was someone there who wanted to help us as a family. We were told that whatever happened we would be able to stay at the hospice with Elliot, spend time caring for him and getting to know him before we had to say goodbye.
“When Elliot was born he was very much alive and the hospice and their Symptom Management Team were instrumental in helping us get Elliot home. Within four hours of his birth we were home together. The nursing team stayed until we were settled and then left us to be a family.”
Elliot sadly passed away the next day after an amazing 17 hours and 5 minutes.
Charlotte continued: “Once Elliot died EACH became instrumental in helping and supporting us every step of the way. Later that day we went to stay at the hospice with Elliot, I was able to bath and care for him. This gave us a bit more time together making precious memories and also the chance to be away from everything, with each other. We didn’t have to think about preparing meals or doing anything else we needed to. We were able to have family and friends visit us so they could meet Elliot.”
“In the time that has passed since his death, the hospice have supported us as a family in so many ways. Louis has had music therapy and attended sibling days, my husband and I attended a baby bereavement group and I have one to one counselling support. We also go to various events for bereaved families and I am a member of the choir.
“EACH are always on hand to support us and meet whatever needs we have. I can’t imagine what our experience would have been like without them, I feel that they have and continue to walk our journey with us. Just knowing there is someone there who can help.
“Being able to continue to go to the Treehouse is hugely comforting, to spend time in the room where Elliot was, wander through the gardens and feel in some way close to him. Singing in the choir means I meet with others in similar position to myself - we help and support each other, and know in some way they understand you. I love being part of the choir as it gives me something positive and ongoing that I can do because of Elliot and through singing I am able to continue to do something for him.”