“’I’M sorry, there’s no heartbeat.’”

Those are the words that will haunt Lauren Spartley for the rest of her life. The moment her whole world fell apart. The moment the doctor confirmed that the baby inside her – Maisie – had died.

She said: “All I remember was falling to the floor, hugging my belly and screaming. My heart physically hurt. There is no pain in the world like that pain.

“It’s so hard to describe. Even a year on I still can’t find the words to explain the way I felt. I remember the midwife cried with Jake and I and then she left the room so he could call our parents. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen Jake have to do. How do you tell your parents that your baby has died?”

During the nightmare of giving birth to a stillborn baby, attending her funeral instead of taking her home, and coping with their grief Lauren and Jake, her partner, have had the support of Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s midwives, doctors and staff at the bereavement unit – the Fay Turner Suite.

To thank them for this support Lauren and Jake are soon to hand over £2,000 which they have raised towards a £60,000 appeal by hospital staff to create a maternity bereavement suite to provide a private place for parents of stillborn children, or children who died after birth.

The money is also to say thanks to the staff for their support in seeing Lauren through a second, and very successful pregnancy to the birth of their daughter, Mollie Mai, on May 3, this year.

Lauren, aged 24, met Jake Regan, aged 27, a window fitter for County Windows and Conservatories, in 2012. In 2013 they moved into their first rented flat and in 2014 Jake asked Lauren to marry him and they got engaged.

She said: “We had talked about having children but we weren’t ready and we said perhaps start trying in the next two to three years. In April ,2015, we bought our first house, with the help from my amazing mum and dad, and we settled down really quick and made our cute little two-bedroom house our home.

“In September 2015 we went away to Cornwall and I was actually on the contraceptive pill at the time so there was no worry in my mind about getting pregnant.

“I remember being at work in November and saying to my friend Sarah that I’d been feeling so sick for the last week or so, and all the girls made jokes about me being pregnant – but of course I couldn’t be because I was using contraception!

“One lunch break something made me go and get a pregnancy test kit and when I got back to work I took it... and two very bold lines showed! I didn’t really know what to do so I called my boss and just broke down in tears, I was so scared because I never thought I was ready to be a mum yet. I think I spent about £50 on tests just to make sure what I was seeing wasn’t in my mind.

“I called Jake and told him the news and we both decided that it was the right time and we were ready for this. My mum and dad were unbelievably happy that they were going to be grandparents.”

Lauren said she was “totally clueless” about motherhood, but had the most amazing midwife, Julie, who literally did everything for her. Jake and Lauren were so excited to be parents that on every trip to town she bought something new for the baby.

“At 17 weeks we found out we were having a little girl. Jake was over the moon, he always wanted a little daddy’s girl and this was the point when he really started to turn into a ‘dad’.

“We decorated her bedroom all pink and bought SO many clothes it’s untrue! I remember having our 20-week anomaly scan (to check the baby is developing normally) and tearing-up because that was our little girl growing inside me and it all just felt so real then.

“She was a very happy, active, healthy baby and I had the most straightforward textbook pregnancy, no sickness or anything, but I had terrible heartburn and got covered in acne but that’s all the fun about being pregnant!

“Maisie was the most active little baby. I first felt her kick at 16+1 week’s gestation and after that she never stopped! She used to wake me up two or three times a night doing all sorts of weird things in my belly and I loved it so much.

“As soon as you know you’re pregnant you instantly fall in love with your baby, and both Jake and I were head-over-heels in love with our little girl.”

Lauren, an administrator for Alere Forensics in Malvern, left work for maternity leave at 37 weeks pregnant and planned to have a couple of weeks at home relaxing before the birth.

She said: “On the Tuesday night, July 5, 2016, I had some really horrible pains, so I rang the hospital.

“The midwife told me it sounded like the start of labour and to take a warm bath, take it easy and let it progress until my contractions got stronger. I took the advice and went to bed. In the morning, July 6, 2016, I didn’t wake up until 10am and that was so unusual because Maisie used to wake me up kicking about 8am every morning, but on this morning she hadn’t.

“I went downstairs and had breakfast, and still nothing. I rang the hospital and told them I hadn’t felt her move and I still had pains. The midwife told me that I needed to have a bath and give it two hours and see then. I ran the bath and broke down because I just knew something wasn’t right. I rang back and told them I wanted to be seen. I knew something was wrong. I rang Jake and he left work and off we went to the hospital.”

Lauren said: “The pain was so intense. The midwife took me straight through to room 15 and put me on the bed.

“ I remember her getting the little plastic blue tube type-thing they use to find the heartbeat. She searched for about 10 minutes and that’s when Jake and I both looked at each other a knew this wasn’t OK. Maisie was never difficult to find, it usually took my midwife no more than 30 seconds to find her.

“Then the midwife went to get the Sonicaid monitor to see if she could track her down with that, and again, after 10 minutes of searching there was still nothing. That’s when we knew for sure she’d gone but we still held out hope that this was wrong and the doctor would be able to find her.

“The doctor came in about 20 minutes later to do a scan and she looked around for about two to three minutes and that’s when she turned to us and we heard the five words no parent should ever have to hear... “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”.’

The next thing Lauren remembers was being taken into the Fay Turner Suite, the hospital’s bereavement unit, and both her family and Jake’s joined them.

Lauren’s mother insisted Lauren should have the baby as soon as possible.

She said: “I physically couldn’t speak so I couldn’t make any decisions but I knew that my mum knew best and would do everything in my best interest. I was induced that evening and I laboured for 11 hours and then Maisie was here – 39+4 weeks’ gestation weighing 6lb4oz.

“I remember Jake giving her to me and I just stared at her, waiting for her eyes to open and for her to take her first breath because I kept thinking the doctors had got it all wrong. But no. She was so peaceful, the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen in my life. Her eyes didn’t open. My little baby had died.

“I remember feeling lost, and empty, my whole body was just numb. I had my daughter in my arms but my heart had such a huge empty space. I felt like a failure, I felt so guilty, like there was something I must have done for this to happen. I felt like the most awful person in the world and I remember I kept telling everyone I was sorry, because I’d taken this precious little girl away from everyone.

“I did everything right, I ate well, I took my vitamins, I didn’t smoke or drink and everything I did was with my unborn baby in mind. This was just a horrible thing that happened to me and Jake and it was totally out of our control. I still search for answers, why? Why did this happen to us? But there never will be any answers.

“People always say ‘it gets easier’ and ‘time will heal you’ but that’s not true. It’s never going to be easy, how can it be? You just learn to cope. I would never have coped without my amazing bereavement midwife, Trudy Berlet. She guided me through the whole thing and still continues to do so today, a year on from having Maisie.

“We stayed with Maisie for two days. I had her at 4.07am on Thursday, July 7, and we stayed until the Friday night at 10pm. “Leaving my baby at the hospital was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s not natural to walk away from your baby and it was so hard to manage to pick my feet up to leave her.

“The two days we were with Maisie were and always will be the best two days of my life.

“The Fay Turner suite was so private and we were allowed all of our family with us. The hospital organised for a photographer to come in and take pictures of us and Maisie so we could keep them forever.

“We have her hand and foot prints in a clay mould in a memory box given to us by the hospital.

“We were left alone to just be with our baby and I cannot thank the hospital enough for giving us that opportunity because they are such lovely memories for me. Going home was hard, having to tell our neighbours that we were home but our baby wasn’t, and she never would be.”

The next step was Maisie’s funeral which the hospital organised. Lauren just felt numb.

So many people went to say goodbye to Maisie and pay their respects.

Lauren said:” Our little girl touched so many hearts and I am so proud of her for that. Once she had had her funeral I felt like I could finally start to heal – we had laid her to rest and she was finally coming home to us where she belonged. We have her ashes in a special box.

“People ask me how I felt but I can’t put it into words. It’s a physical pain and it never goes away. There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled until the day I can hold my baby again.

“She taught me a whole new kind of love and she’s made me a better person and for that I will always be grateful to her. I have had so much support from all my friends. I want people to know that this happens every single day, and it’s okay to talk about it. Pregnancy loss seems to be such a taboo subject and I want people to open up and talk about it because it needs to be spoken about. Maisie is my baby, my first daughter and she always will be whether she is here or not. And I have every right to speak about her and post her pictures just like a mother with a living child does.”

Each year October 9 to 15 is Baby Loss Awareness Week. Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends unite with each other and others across the world to commemorate their babies lives so it is appropriate that this month Lauren and Jake are to hand over £2,000 towards Worcestershire Royal Hospital staff’s appeal for £60,000 to create a maternity bereavement suite. October is also pregnancy loss awareness month.

Lauren said: “The Fay Turner Suite is such an amazing charity and I want more people to know about the work they do so that they can get to their £60,000 goal and help more families that need it.” About £500 was raised at Maisie’s funeral; £1,500 at a cake sale, raffles and tombola fund-raiser at Civica, Pershore, where Lauren’s mother works and £250 at Lauren’s grandpa’s funeral.

Lauren said: “Once we were home from the hospital, we started counselling but I knew it wouldn’t work because the only therapy for me was to be pregnant again. People often think that that’s to replace the daughter we lost, but that’s so far from the truth. But I’d carried Maisie for nine months and my arms we empty, I needed a baby in my arms. We were unbelievably lucky and we conceived very quickly and five weeks later I got a positive pregnancy test.

“Throughout the whole pregnancy all I kept thinking was ‘this was going to happen again, I’ll never get to take a living baby home’. But the amazing team of midwives I had and Trudy, my bereavement midwife, and my consultant Miss Kumar, got me through my pregnancy.

Lauren opted for an elective C Section with their rainbow baby (a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison).

She said: “I wasn’t willing to take any chances – I needed her here safe.

“On May 3, 2017, our little rainbow baby, Mollie Mai, was born at 9.43am weighing 6lb4oz exactly the same as her big sister!

“ I have never felt relief like it. I just couldn’t believe that this baby was here and she was okay and that she was going to come home.

“I remember looking at Mollie and crying, both with happiness and sadness – happiness because she was the most precious thing and she was finally coming home, but sad because Maisie should have been coming home too.

“People often say to me ‘don’t you feel guilty’ and yes, I do. But then I remember that Maisie will always be with us, and we are incredibly lucky to have our very own angel. Mollie is so much like her big sister and to me that brings me so much comfort because when Mollie smiles and laughs and cries, it’s like part of Maisie is doing it too. I see Maisie’s milestones through her little sister and that’s such a wonderful thing for me.

“I often get asked if Mollie is my first baby and I will always say no. She’s my second. Maisie will never be forgotten and she will always be our first baby regardless. I talk about her every day because she’s loved just as much as her sister. Every day I look at Mollie and I know how lucky I am to have her, she’s our little miracle baby.

“Pregnancy after loss at any stage is hard and a very anxious time, but when you lose a baby at full term there is no ‘safe’ point. I want to spread awareness that this does happen. ALWAYS trust your instincts because if I had, then maybe Maisie would be here now.”