A mum has recalled the devastation of losing her baby son at 41 weeks pregnant – and says she’ll never know what actually happened to him.
Siona and her partner Connor Ridout were over the moon when they received the joyous news that their second child was on the way in January 2021.
They had recently moved into a new home in Llwynypia, Rhondda Fawr and were enjoying their careers as a carer and a carpenter, and their now two-year-old daughter Eira-Belle was keeping them busy.
Siona, 24, said.: “We’d moved on in life very quickly really. We are only 24 now but even then we were both so settled and happy and felt ready to have another one after Eira-Belle. We were over the moon to get the news – so, so happy.
“We told close families straight away, but we have a large family so we waited until we’d had all the scans to tell everyone. There was a lot of excitement.
“He was growing beautifully. He was quite big, he had a healthy heartbeat and there were no issues.”
They quickly started preparing for their new arrival, with more toys and cribs for their son Griffydd George-John Ridout.
“We’d done his bedroom out beautifully, and we’d bought his new clothes, we’d bought the pram and car seat, we’d bought the crib – there was a hell of a lot of shopping,” Siona continued.
“In August we had a baby shower at our house with lots of family and friends which was really lovely. Something you’d expect – a celebration with lots of gifts for the baby and cards.”
After her due date arrived on September 10, Siona wasn’t surprised when she began to experience pains which she thought were contractions.
“I was having a lot of pains in my stomach which I thought were signs of being in labour, so we phoned Prince Charles Hospital.
“They monitored his heart and everything was fine and they said I might have been in very slow labour, so they gave me co-codamol and sent me home. A couple of days later the pains had subsided and I wasn’t particularly concerned.”
Following a routine appointment with a midwife at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda Siona was again told everything was fine, and following scans confirmed that there was a clear and healthy heartbeat.
But one day later, everything changed.
“I woke up on September 17 with really bad pain – worse than before,” Siona explained.
“I tried everything to stop it, from pain relief to baths – and nothing was working. The pains were horrendous in my back and right through to my stomach.
“I held off phoning the hospital because I didn’t want to be a hindrance, but it came to 3pm and I couldn’t take it any longer.
“When I got to hospital I was rushed straight through to be monitored. I could see she was struggling to find a heartbeat so I asked whether everything was okay. I was told they were struggling but it wasn’t unusual.
“Another midwife then came in and tried but she couldn’t find anything either. She said he might have been lying in an awkward position.
“I was taken into another room where my partner was invited in, and that was when I began to get really concerned.
“My partner came in and they did the scan with us together. Within seconds the midwife shook her head and gave us a look I’ll never forget. We knew what had happened.
“Our baby boy had died after more than 41 weeks gestation. It was an awful shock. I just screamed and my partner held me. I had so many questions but just couldn’t comprehend anything. How could this have happened when everything was so perfect all the way through? Even 24 hours beforehand he’d been fine.
“Somehow we had to go and deliver a baby who wasn’t alive. My daughter was born by c-section and I didn’t want to do it naturally because I didn’t want to wait. With the stress we were already under I didn’t want to be in hospital any longer than I needed to be. I asked for another c-section and by that evening I’d given birth.”
At 10.22pm on September 17, Griffydd was born weighing 8lb 14oz.
Siona remembered her first and final moments with him vividly.
“He was the most perfect and beautiful little boy,” she said. “Pure perfection. No sound, no movement. I was still praying with everything in my body that my little boy would make a sound, but he lay silently.
“We spent 12 hours with him. It is an absolutely horrific thing to go through – to give up your fully grown baby to nurses and leave the hospital with nothing but an empty car seat, clothes, milk – all still there.”
She thanked nurses for gifting her a memory box including Griffydd’s hand and footprints, a teddy bear and a photo frame.
“It was a beautiful thought,” she said. “I keep it in my bedroom at the side of the bed, and look at it every day. I often look at it wondering what would have happened if I’d phoned the hospital sooner on that day.”
Five months on and the couple have just received their baby boy’s autopsy report. They were told his death was unexplained and nothing untoward was found. Siona said the news made Griffydd’s passing even tougher to comprehend.
“I want to speak out about my story because I want to raise awareness that this could happen to anyone and to any baby. No-one knows why or how my son died. I’m not the only one who is left with no answers – and yet I’ve never seen anyone speaking about this openly.
“I would have appreciated more awareness that even with a really healthy pregnancy and with nothing visibly wrong with the baby, this can happen. I want to step up and be that support to those who have gone through this and feel they have no-one to talk to.”
Siona has encouraged parents in the same position as her and Connor to contact Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity), which you can find here.
Asked how you cope with such news in the days and weeks after leaving hospital, Siona said: “It’s been extremely hard, very up and down. But I feel I’m now in a position where I can help others. I understand what it’s like sitting in that lonely place. I’m so lucky I have a big and supportive family, but I still felt very alone.”
The family of three have an apple tree at the bottom of their garden as a symbol of remembrance to their little boy, and Connor’s new carpentry business has also been named in memory of Griffydd – Apple Tree Carpentry and Construction.
“It has completely changed us,” Siona said. “We now realize more than ever that family is the most important thing. We both worked a hell of a lot before this and were constantly focused on getting on in life. Now a lot more time is spent being thankful for our family and little girl.
“If it wasn’t for her then maybe we wouldn’t have coped so well with this. I know it would have been a very different situation. Ella she’s the apple of our eye, she’s so funny, and she’s kept our spirits alive.
“It’s time to try and move forward from this now and learn to live with it. We can still speak about Griffydd and we do all the time. There is still a lot of grieving to do as a family.
“But I have so much to be grateful for. I take my girl to the park, and to see the horses, I have a lovely family and a loving home.
“Yes it’s a horrible thing to experience, but it has taught us to be grateful. Be grateful, because you never know what is around the corner in your life.
“It’s taught me the importance of family, and that you never know what is around the corner waiting for you.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.