‘We carried our children’s bodies home in a box’ woman’s heartbreak after losing six babies
Claudia Matthews had just minutes to cuddle her premature baby twins Archie and Hugo before they died in her arms.
Devastatingly, she and husband Benjamin, from Tanworth in Arden, would go on to suffer the loss of another four babies.
Today, Claudia, 40, who runs her own legal recruitment firm, tells her remarkable story in her own words, sharing how she’s lifted herself from the depths of despair to help other families.
“I’d always joked with Benjamin that I thought we’d have twins as I have family history of them.
“So, we were bursting with happiness when the sonographer told us there were two heartbeats.
“On Boxing Day 2014, we were celebrating with family miles from home and I started to feel unwell, with severe cramping, so I headed to the local hospital. The staff kept me in for observation and sent Benjamin home.
“When I went to the toilet in the early hours and found my babies were on their way, I was absolutely petrified because I was only 22 weeks and four days into my pregnancy.
“Benjamin arrived and we shared the shock of being told our boys would be arriving with a very small chance of survival.
“I felt numb, as though I was watching someone else’s life, not mine.
“My beautiful, perfect boys were born alive and for a split second I thought they would make it as there was nothing wrong that I could see, just so tiny and fragile – Hugo was just 450g, Archie was 490g.
“We had some precious moments of cuddling and kissing them and Archie and Hugo both held my finger before they slipped away.
“These moments I am grateful for, although I just can’t describe the sheer pain I felt – how could I have lost my boys?
“It must’ve been my fault, something I’d done, I’d failed them as a mother and would never forgive myself.
“I underwent placental removal procedure under anaesthetic and felt I didn’t want to wake up afterwards, it would’ve been so much easier to take my pain away as I just couldn’t survive without my boys.
“My mum was with me and she said watching her baby lose her babies was the hardest thing she’d ever had to see.
“We made the long journey home with the bodies of our children in a box.
“Holding them all the way home and having to leave them alone at the funeral directors, I felt as though my heart had been ripped out, how was I still breathing?
“I was unwell due to an infection, affected by hysterical outbursts which Benjamin found difficult to cope with, and couldn’t sleep because that was when I relived what had happened and saw my boys being born again.
“Somehow I survived those first weeks and we said goodbye to our perfect little boys at a farewell service. I wrote and read out a poem. This was the last thing I could do for them as their mummy – I just couldn’t let them down, not again.
“Wherever I went I saw babies – babies everywhere. I even ran out of the supermarket once because I came face to face with a mother with twins in her trolley – such torture!
“There was no medical reason for what had happened to me, which made things worse for me to process.
“I returned to work, probably too quickly, but having my own business I didn’t want to let anyone down and my coping mechanism was to ‘keep busy’.
“Thankfully I have amazing family and friends, most knowing exactly what to say but I also had people around me who struggled to know what to do/say and avoided me like the plague.
“My life would never be the same again but I vowed to carry on in memory of Archie and Hugo and their very short little lives.
“In 2015, I found out I was pregnant again. I felt so frightened.
“Each scan, each milestone did nothing to reassure me, even when I got to the stage I’d got to with my twin boys.
“There were complications – a low-lying placenta (which meant a potential C-section) and tests for gestational diabetes.
“My little miracle arrived three weeks early, in May 2016, within two hours, perfectly naturally and I just couldn’t believe that I was holding him in my arms.
“I felt like the luckiest person in the world and, although my pain didn’t go away, I had my baby boy Maddox to love.
“Being a mother is the best thing I’ve ever done.
“We wanted to extend our family, and found out we were expecting again in early 2017.
“But I miscarried at six weeks pregnant – on Mother’s Day of all the days.
“I just couldn’t believe this could happen to me but I didn’t sit and wallow, I just had to get on with it. I had Maddox and he’s everything I live for.
“We really wanted a brother or sister for him so didn’t give up and found we were expecting again.
“However, the tests and scans showed that there was something terribly wrong and at 16 weeks, we said goodbye to another little boy and I had to deliver Albie four days before my birthday.
“Back home, I held my rainbow boy Maddox so tightly, I had been through so much but had to be strong, I couldn’t let this affect him.
“Then, I found I had an ovarian cyst – this journey was affecting me physically as well as emotionally.
“I had the all clear and so we rode that rollercoaster again and found out we were expecting again – only to miscarry, at six weeks pregnant, on 23 December, just in time for Christmas when Maddox was just at the age to enjoy the festivities.
“That was it, I couldn’t keep putting myself through this torture anymore, I’d given up.
“However, on holiday this summer, we caught pregnant accidentally but I had another early miscarriage.
“This time I felt different, almost numb.
“I’d lost six babies – how does this happen to one person?
“I read a book called Saying Goodbye by Zoe Clark Coates, who has lost five babies, which for the first time made me feel that I wasn’t alone.
“Zoe founded the Mariposa Trust, a charity that supports people who have suffered the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, birth or infancy.
“Zoe supported me initially online and then we met. She made me feel normal, empowering me to find my way out of those dark days and see hope for the future.
“I realised I could use my devastating journey to help others – I had a purpose from all of this pain!
“Today, I’ve shared my story to raise awareness of the charity across our region. The Mariposa Trust reaches around 50,000 people each week with their support and strives to bring about change. Zoe co-chairs the Government’s National Baby Loss Review.
“We have some fantastic events planned, our first is a Saying Goodbye Baby Loss Awareness Candle Lighting Ceremony’ at Umberslade Farm in Tanworth in Arden on Monday, October 15 at 7pm.
“We’re inviting families of all ages to remember their angel babies in this heartfelt ceremony.
“Find out more about it here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1037713163075507/
“I live each day for my little rainbow boy who is now two years old, he is everything I could have ever dreamed of and more.
“We talk to him about his brothers Archie, Hugo and Albie, they will always be part of our family.
“I am lucky to be a mummy to all of my boys. Parenthood is something that so many take for granted as being an easy thing to achieve, it’s not.
“I’m not sure how I am still standing sometimes but I won’t give up on giving my little boy a sibling – he’s such a lovely little boy and he’d make an amazing big brother.”
• For further information, go to The Mariposa Trust website: www.mariposatrust.org and the Saying Goodbye website: https://www.sayinggoodbye.org You can also visit Claudia’s fundraising page here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/claudiamatthews1
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/heartbroken-mum-cuddled-twins-died-15270567