Bereaved parents Baylee Nash and Tom Pipe say part of them will forever be missing following the death of ten-day-old daughter Violet-May. The couple shared their story during Baby Loss Awareness Week as a way of conveying their gratitude to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), having spent precious time as a family at The Nook, in Framingham Earl.
Violet-May had a serious heart condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She also had pulmonary valve dysplasia and mild pulmonary valve regurgitation. She was transferred to The Nook for end-of-life care and died in October 2021.
Baylee said: “I don’t think there’ll ever be words to describe how difficult it was to deal with and how much it tore our hearts apart. It was something we had no idea about and had never heard of, but something that left us with so much to learn. That was the scary part – the unknown.
“We felt such emptiness and heartache that will never go away. Violet-May was so little, precious and perfect to us, but she came into this world broken inside. A massive part of me felt guilty, like it was my fault, even though there was nothing we could do.
“The last year has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. Losing Violet-May has left us completely broken. The moment we lost her was the moment we lost part of ourselves – a massive part that will always be missing.
“No matter how many tears we’ve cried, or how many times we’ve begged for her to come back, we know she‘ll never be in our arms again. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and there will never be words for the heartache and pain we feel.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say we coped. We had no choice but to carry on and find a new way of living our lives.”
Amid their devastating heartache, Baylee and Tom, both 20, found comfort and support at The Nook. They were able to create special memories, including going into the sensory room, taking their baby for a walk around the hospice grounds and giving her a bath.
“It felt so surreal,” said Tom, a football coach for Norwich City Sports Foundation. “After eight days in hospitals, there was no major machinery, no-one watching us or constant check-ups. It was just us, as a family, as new parents, enjoying the time we had left.
“We had time to soak up what any other new parents would and we managed to create memories I don’t think we would’ve ever got the chance to without going to The Nook. The sensory room was a particularly special moment for us. It was so calm, with no worries or distractions, and one of the very last memories we had.
“There were so many other favourite times, like chilling on the sofa watching television and going to bed like a normal family, waking up and having cuddles with our baby. They were little moments we didn’t have in hospital and moments we can’t ever replace.”
The couple, who live in Norwich, are still receiving support and feel they would have struggled to cope without EACH.
“The care and support we received was above and beyond what we thought we were going to get,” said supermarket customer assistant Baylee. We were made to feel like we were at home and the care team looked after us all, including our families.
“EACH has the most amazing staff. They’re all so loving, welcoming and have become such a part of our story and journey. I feel like everyone goes above and beyond and helps in every way possible. They all truly take the time to listen, which is so important. No-one just forgets you and they treat you like family.
“I never knew how much I’d need a place like EACH until we had Violet-May. Her end-of-life care was made to feel as peaceful as possible and the hospice became a safe place for our family.
“The staff had such a massive part to play. The nurses helped us make the most precious memories and we didn’t have to worry about anything. We had time to focus on what truly mattered – Violet-May. The difference it made during those final days was everything we could’ve hoped for and we strongly believe we wouldn’t have coped otherwise.
“Since losing Violet-May, we’ve managed to go back to the hospice and remember her in such special ways. We both grieved differently, with no way of knowing which way was right or wrong. I don’t think there’s a correct way to grieve.
“As a family, one thing that gave us a bit of help was fundraising for EACH on behalf of Violet-May, being the top fundraisers for the Piglet Junior Hog in July and raising £1,973. It was our way of giving back to an amazing charity that has helped, and continues to help, us so much.”