A scan in pregnancy revealed that Shalome had severe brain abnormalities which might make her ‘incompatible with life’. So before the birth, the family came to us and found peace and a home-from-home here. Shalome defied the odds by arriving safely, and continues to receive our support.
The last thing Emma and Colin wanted to hear at their 20-week scan was that their baby girl had severe brain abnormalities which might mean she was ‘incompatible with life’. "When you get that kind of news, you have no idea what to do or where to turn,” said Emma. “But termination was never an option for us.”
Late in the pregnancy, Emma, Colin and their daughter Faith moved from Birmingham to Huddersfield. As they were leaving a hospital appointment one day, a nurse caught up with them and suggested they get in touch with our hospice. “But before we even had chance to contact them, one of their nurses gave us a call so we arranged to visit Russell House. The whole place was absolutely fantastic. It really gave us hope, and something positive to look forward to. It put the spring back in our step.”
In the lead-up to Emma’s due date, she and Colin and Emma visited Russell House regularly. Family members came for a look around, and we arranged and hosted meetings with doctors and healthcare professionals. Several family members took up our offer of complementary therapies and art therapy.
“We really did feel at home," explains Emma. “It took the weight off our shoulders and we looked forward to the rest of the pregnancy with excitement. We knew we wanted to be transferred to Russell House from the hospital as soon as possible – whatever the outcome of Shalome's birth."
The big day arrived – and Shalome defied the odds, arriving safely on 9 November 2015. Just two hours later, the whole family arrived at the hospice. “On the first day, we stayed over, and all of our family came to the hospice to meet Shalome. They fell in love with her just like we did, and they couldn’t believe all the facilities at Russell House. We were cooked for every day, so we didn’t have to think about anything.”
Creating memories and mementoes
“We spent a full week at Russell House, enjoying respite care and making memories which we knew we might need sooner than we could ever be ready for,” says Emma. “We took Shalome’s footprints in clay and paint, and we wrote a lullaby with the help of the music therapist.”
Our support continues
Shalome recently turned 1, and she continues to defy all the odds despite her initial diagnosis. She’s the most beautiful little girl, and our whole team loves having her and her family around.
“Knowing we were in safe hands came as a huge relief to us all, and we’re so thankful for it,” explains Emma. “Their ongoing support means the world to us: it’s irreplaceable in our lives. Having 24-hour access to the hospice care team, and knowing we can call at any time of day or night, is amazing.
"We’ve also been to coffee mornings and play groups at Russell House, so we’ve been able to meet other families in a similar position, and it’s lovely to be able to relax and have a bit of fun.”