WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
A mum has told of her agony at going into labour with her first child only to be told her unborn baby had no heartbeat.
The mum was left heartbroken when she discovered the little boy she had been so desperate to bring into the world had not survived.
Francesca Arnold was delighted when she found out she was due to have her first baby, Franklynn.
But after a healthy pregnancy the 29-year-old's happiness turned to heartache, reports Derbyshire Live.
Her bundle of joy was stillborn at the Snowdrop Suite, a specialist unit for bereaved parents at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital.
Now she has opened up about her traumatic birth, how it feels to be expecting another son and why she cannot get over the "hardest day of her life".
Francesca said: "I fell pregnant in August 2010 and it was a really healthy pregnancy with no issues.
"In May my due date came and went and there were still no problems so I didn’t have anything to worry about.
"I went into labour early on the Friday morning and I thought I could still feel him moving but when I got to the hospital they couldn’t find his heartbeat.
"They took me to the Snowdrop Suite to deliver him but even when they kept telling me he had died I just couldn’t understand. Only a few hours earlier everything had been perfect.
"I can just remember my mum turning to me and saying to me 'you do understand what they are saying don’t you?'
"But I was 20 and a first-time mum. I thought I would give birth to him and they would work on him to make sure he was okay.
"Then we would go home and start our life together as a family."
On May 14, 2011, Francesca gave birth to Franklynn at 2am. He weighed 3.8kg (eight pounds and eight ounces).
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She said: "I stayed in the Snowdrop Suite with my mum and my sister and my ex-husband Chris. The nurses were amazing and took handprints and footprints of Franklynn for us to keep and gave us a memory box.
"They were brilliant, caring and compassionate and just trying to make the best out of a bad situation.
"It was all such a blur but they were so good and explained to me what had happened.
"I was eight days overdue and the placenta had started to come away from the wall. Where blood would normally trickle down, mine had clotted and my placenta had stopped working.
"When I told the doctors I was still feeling movements they think it was him passing away that sent me into labour."
The tragedy had a shattering impact on Francesca and her whole family.
She said: "My sister took it really hard. It was tough on her because she was a midwife at the hospital but she was on maternity leave with her own baby.
"When she went back to work she found it really difficult to be near the Snowdrop Suite.
"I didn’t know anything about the suite before but it was invaluable and so precious to us at that time.
"All our family was able to come and meet Franklynn and we had a vicar who came and blessed him. It was nice to have our own space when so much was going on.
"We have since raised money for a cuddle cot (a special basket that preserves still-borns) at the hospital, as our way of saying thank you."
Francesca said she purposely stayed away from her family home for weeks after Franklynn’s death, taking up her mum's offer to stay with her and have a holiday away while she tried to come to terms with her grief.
She said: "We stayed with Franklynn for as long as we could, but he was deteriorating and we didn’t want to remember him like that.
"Leaving him was the hardest part. I visited him every day at the funeral directors and sat with my little baby boy.
"They wanted to give him a post-mortem but I couldn’t bear to put him through that, not after everything.
"He was perfect. There was nothing wrong with him except that he had been starved of oxygen.
"I didn’t go home for a few weeks. It was just too painful.
"We had everything ready for him. When we left for the hospital we put his steriliser out on the side and his bottles were ready for when we brought him home.
"Luckily by the time I got home from holiday someone had moved all the baby stuff from the house, which I am glad about because I know I couldn't face it.
"One of the most shocking things was that, even though I was 20, I was lucky enough to have never really experienced death, so having to plan my own son's funeral was so hard.
"We asked everyone to wear blue and yellow and we made it a celebration in honour of all the birthday parties he would never have."
Francesca, who now lives in Nottingham with her husband Robert and daughter Anise, six, has recently found out she is expecting another son - a thought which filled her with both happiness and worry.
She said: "My husband Rob and I have been trying for years to have a baby and we were starting to give up hope.
"We got married in May, came back from our honeymoon and got a nice surprise.
"It has been a scary time as I have been diagnosed with type-one diabetes, but since I found out I was having a boy I have been fraught with worry.
"What happened with Franklynn stays with me every day, but it makes it so hard to enjoy pregnancy. You just want everything to be okay.
"I had reduced movements with my daughter and I knew I was becoming unwell. I can remember crying in the hospital saying 'please, don’t make me leave until she is here and she was delivered at 37 weeks'.
"She was perfect but I wouldn’t believe it until she was in my arms.
"Franklynn will always be my first baby and I will never get over it, how can I? But I will always remember him, love him and treasure the time I had with him, thanks to the Snowdrop Suite."
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