Tiny Willow Evans battled from birth for 18 days to stay alive but sadly, on December 27 last year, she lost that fight.
Born on December 9 at 9.28am Willow weighed just 520 grams. One minute later twin Reggie arrived in the world weighing slightly more at 820 grams.
The twins were born at just 25 weeks and five days into mum Jodie Nicholson’s pregnancy after she went to QEQM Hospital suffering with sepsis.
The 29-year-old, from Ramsgate, was blue-lighted to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford so her newborns could go straight onto ventilators and oxygen in the neonatal special care unit.
Jodie said: “I was so scared. They had to get the babies out because of the sepsis. After the cesarean I was put on a drip and antibiotics and Willow and Reggie had to be treated for sepsis too.
“They were also having daily blood transfusions because where they were born so early their bodies could not create their own blood cells.
“They had blood gasses checked, so a prick on the foot and then everything in the blood, like oxygen levels and cells, could be checked.”
On December 26 the results of the blood tests so concerned staff that they decided Willow would need to undergo an X-ray.
The following day the little one had to have a tube in her airway changed and have oxygen pumped into her lungs but tragically this resulted in an air leak that her body could not cope with.
Jodie said: “ My worst nightmare happened when I was told my beautiful princess Willow had passed away. She had fought hard for 18 days. She was very feisty and put on a fight the whole time she was alive. She had been resuscitated three times but that last time it wasn’t going to happen and it wasn’t fair to put her through any more pain. She passed away in a nurse’s arms while they sang Silent Night to her.”
Sadly, Jodie was unable to take the time to grieve the loss of her daughter as twin Reggie was still in the hospital with his own fight for survival.
Jodie said: “Reggie was still fighting for his life and I had to focus on that. I would go into the room and know my daughter had died there but my son still needed me. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Reggie remained in hospital for four months. He was finally brought home three weeks ago but will still face challenges due to chronic lung disease and deafness in one ear. He has also undergone laser eye surgery to save his sight.
Jodie said: “I didn’t have a chance to grieve for Willow, it is only now that I keep thinking there should be two of everything not one.”
Reggie is now weighing more than 9lb and health visitors are happy with his progress. Jodie said: “There are still a lot of issues but he is doing really well.”
Willow was laid to rest in Margate cemetery in February but now Jodie faces another struggle as she tries to raise the money for a headstone for her daughter.
She said: “I was shocked at how little help there is for baby deaths. As a young person, you do not expect to have to bury your baby and, other than a basic funeral, there is no help from the government. We paid for a horse and carriage and doves because I wanted to give Willow a really good send off, she deserved that.
“But she has no headstone. I had agreed with her dad that she would have a princess castle stone and the cheapest one I have found is £1,700.
“I never thought I would have to bury my child and now I’m shocked at how expensive it all is, you just don’t expect that as well.”
A facebook page – Team Willow Rose – has now been set up and is running daily raffles with prizes that have been generously donated to raise funds towards the cost of the headstone. There are also plans to set up a justgiving page.
Jodie said: “Reggie is home now but Willow has left behind a best friend and a loving family. We will never ever forget her and just want to get her the beautiful headstone that she deserves.”
A Justgiving appeal has now been launched.