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The Ashby family


Steve Ashby from the Birmingham office of international law firm Gowling WLG nominated Bliss to be their national Charity of the Year for 2016. Steve explains why he nominated Bliss:

All three of my daughters were born premature: two survived, one sadly didn’t.

Our first baby, Amy, was born at 32 weeks, and was in hospital for three weeks before she was strong enough to come home, though still very tiny. You can’t prepare for your baby being born prematurely – it always happens suddenly. We hadn’t had any pre-natal classes, or packed any bags, and suddenly we were in a delivery room with a team of midwives and doctors. We had no idea what we were doing. She was born in 45 minutes and whipped off to a baby sunbed to keep her warm. There was no cutting of the umbilical cord, no skin-to-skin contact. We were allowed to hold her for a few minutes, but then it was two hours before we could see her again, and we weren’t allowed to touch her in the incubator.

The next three weeks were a blur. I was going to work and then to the hospital every evening. It was heart breaking leaving her overnight, but all the staff were amazing. They kept us informed of what was going on, allowed us to be involved in Amy’s care routines and looked after us as well. No reason could be found for her early birth, and we were told it was probably “just one of those things”. Amy is now a happy and healthy eight year old, though sometimes we have to hug her closely, remembering those early days.

We found out that our second baby, Lucy, had died when my wife was 34 weeks pregnant, and we had labour induced the next day. We held her for a few minutes, introduced ourselves, told her what her name was, then handed her over to be taken away. With hindsight, I wish we’d spent more time with her, but we weren’t strong enough. Photos were taken, which we have in a box; it was four years ago now and we haven’t looked at them yet. I don’t know if we ever will. Again, they couldn’t find a reason for what happened. My wife had no health problems, so we’ll never know what happened. Once again, the staff were wonderful, organising the funeral so we didn’t have to, giving us access to bereavement counsellors – whatever we needed. They knew exactly what to say, and what not to say.

We had to pretend our third pregnancy wasn’t really happening. We were resigned to the fact that the same thing would happen at around 32 or 34 weeks, one way or the other. It got to that stage and we were begging the doctors to induce, but they wouldn’t induce a healthy baby with a healthy mother, even with our history. Eventually they relented and Jessica was induced at 36 weeks. Happily, she was fine and is now two and a half, and couldn’t be sweeter!

No-one can bear thinking about babies being poorly, or in distress, so people tend to block it out and pretend it doesn’t happen. Until it happens to them. Hopefully, with Bliss as our Charity of the Year, we can raise awareness and help make the subject less taboo. Parents really do need that support.

Gowling WLG held a corporate responsibility day on Friday 11 March. This was an opportunity for charity and community organisations that the company supports, including Bliss, to showcase the work they do and to explain how Gowling WLG, and its employees, can get involved.

If you would like to nominate Bliss as your company's charity of the year, please get in touch with


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