The creation of life and the birth of a child into a loving and caring family is a joy that no parent would ever want to forget.
For Nicola and Kenton Bromby the birth of their daughter, Siena Nicola Bromby, was no exception.
Born just in time for Christmas last year Siena was to her parents the most wonderful gift: seven pounds and three ounces of healthy perfection.
Five days after her birth, on December 20, Nicola and Kenton took Siena home in Hanwell to begin their new life as a family.
The house was decorated with balloons and banners and the church bells were ringing. The three spent the afternoon together as a family taking lots of photos as they sat around the Christmas tree.
Those photographs were the last they would ever take with their daughter. At 3.30am on December 21, at only five days old, Siena fell asleep and never woke up. There were no warning signs, the pregnancy had been normal and Siena appeared happy and responsive when she was taken home. The parents left the hospital devastated and in disbelief.
Kenton said: “We spent the next two weeks with family. We were in a fog, I don’t know what we did for those two weeks, just got up and went to bed. It seems surreal at that point.”
Upon leaving the hospital the couple were given a memory box and it was through this that they were introduced to SANDS – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
Kenton said: “We were given a memory box which is one of the things that SANDS do, at the time you don’t really register it. It’s just there and you’re kind of numb by being given a box.
“Over time you come to recognise that it’s a really nice thing to have.”
Nicola added: “The bereavement councillor at the hospital gave us a load of booklets and directed us to the SANDS forum.”
Support for the couple came from every direction. Funeral directors Ed Frost and Aaron Taylor organised the celebration of Siena’s short life at the church in Hanwell and have ongoing relationship with the SANDS charity.
Nicola said: “They do a window display in June. A tree with teddy bears carrying the names of all the babies. It’s a shock to see how many names there are just from Banbury.”
“We had people who said I want to do more for you. I don’t just want to donate, I want to do an event or do a challenge, just do something to help.”
Family, close friends and villagers also rallied around the couple with an outpouring of genuine altruism.
Kenton said: “The response from the village has been fantastic. Even people we didn’t know. We were a normal couple, we lived in this village, we went to work we came home and lived in our own little bubble.
“We knew our neighbours and the people in the cul-de-sac but everyone has been amazing in the village. We’ve had so many people reach out to us.”
The following months were interspersed with their birthdays, mothers’ day and fathers’ day but no one was willing or able to continue to recognise the pair as parents. Being a part of a club no one wants to enter they realised that there was nothing out there to fill this need so they started Starfish Creations, making cards for parents who had lost their children. Siena had a habit of sticking out all of her limbs when startled by loud noises so she was affectionately known as the Bromby’s little starfish. The response has been overwhelming and orders from as far as America have been received and donations from sales are made to both SANDS UK and Oxfordshire SANDS. These cards are another wonderful legacy of the little girls life and a reminder that being a parent is forever, no matter how brief our encounter.
Nicola said: “What we found is that no body acknowledges you’re a mummy and daddy when your baby’s not here and that’s really hard. This really upset us”
“We make cards and prints mainly for bereaved parents. We don’t think it’s fair that people don’t recognise us as parents.”
This coming Saturday the couple are holding a quiz and raffle at Hanwell Village Hall at 7pm. Organised by long time friend, fellow villager and champion of many local charities, Bob Dainty, the event will raise money for SANDS.
There will also be a raffle with prizes including a three course meal for two at The Falcon pub in Warmington, a £45 voucher for Achilles Hair Salon in Banbury and various other retail vouchers and food and drink goodies.
Food for the event has been supplied free of charge from the Moon and Sixpence and renowned head chef Hylton Bradley.
To buy a ticket to the quiz or raffle email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate in memory of baby Siena visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Siena-Bromby