baby son - Johnny Forbes, hospital, memorial day

A grieving couple from Nantwich are to fundraise for a hospice which looked after their tiny baby after his death.

Jessica and Neil Forbes were devastated after little Johnny, born 23 weeks premature weighing just 1lb 5oz, died just a few days old.

Donna Louise Hospice stepped in to care for him after his death to help the couple feel a sense of ‘normality’.

And the couple, of Jackson Avenue, say they will never forget how it helped them cope with the tragedy.

Now they are to stage an event at Malpas Social Club in a bid to raise thousands of pounds for the hospice, and are appealing for local businesses to help donate prizes.

Jessica, who also has a daughter, recalls the horror of being rushed to Leighton Hospital after experiencing bleeding at 22 weeks pregnant.

“We were placed on a ward, I was dressed in a gown, and on a bed of basic linen sheets – I thought this is, I’m going to miscarry,” she said.

“We hardly got any sleep, and I daren’t even move muscle in case I jeopardised anything.

“The next morning, we were taken for a scan and he was there – a full heartbeat, still going strong!

“I was transferred to a ward and put on full bed rest, not to move and to keep my waters in as long as I could.”

Johnny Forbes memorial day

Specialists told the couple Johnny was within the “thresh-hold”. If he was born weak, then they would not resuscitate him.

“Thankfully, Johnny was a fighter from the beginning,” added Jessica.

“We were hopeful, so very hopeful. Then after a week, I got up and my waters broke.

“He managed to stay inside for two more days and was still going strong. We thought we had already lost him.”

Johnny was born when she got out of bed for a toilet visit.

“Neil said it was a boy, I was so happy. So extremely happy, amid the pain.

“I just wanted to see him, but so many doctors blocked my way.

“I was also haemorrhaging, so as the doctors took Johnny away, I was taken into surgery.

“As I awoke, I didn’t know if he was still alive. I was told he was, and they took me to see him.

“He was “our little man” – little arms, legs, mouth – all moving like they had been just 12 hours earlier in my body. We were in love. Love at first kick.”

Jess and Neil Forbes with daughter

Johnny was transferred to Arrowe Park Hospital in Liverpool.

“We were told he had many complications, it took us a few days to get our heads around the lingo of the doctors.

“Neil suggested I take a diary of each day and to this day I still carry it around with me. I can’t let it go.”

Jessica remembers the night Johnny began to deteriorate.

“The night before he died I had a dream. I was holding him, he was begging me to let him to go to sleep.

“But I wouldn’t let him as I knew he wouldn’t wake back up.

“Then he went to sleep on my chest and turned into a beautiful necklace. I saw it as a sign.

“The next day, the doctors sat us down to advise us the best option would be to let him go.

“We decided it was. Johnny had already told us he was tired, and he was weak and he couldn’t fight any longer.”

Before the couple could  say a proper goodbye, Johnny “crashed”.

“We told the doctors to stop resuscitating. He passed away in his mummy’s arms.

“It was the first time I had held him.

“I got to hold him for as long as I wanted. I got to bath him, dress him and put him down to sleep in a cot.

“It broke my heart in pieces and I don’t think it will ever be whole ever again.”

After Johnny’s death, he was transferred to The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice in Stoke.

There, staff looked after him in his own nursery, his own cot, with Disney music playing.

“He was treated like the proper baby boy he was, or should have been,” recalls Jessica.

“Even though it was so hard not being able to bring him home, it was comforting to know he was being taken care of.

“They offered us counselling, support, even attended his funeral. It just meant so much.

“I never knew this inspirational charity even existed, and the way they took care of Johnny is something we will be eternally grateful for.

“Our baby boy got to be a baby boy for a few days at least, and that will forever be etched in our hearts.”

The Johnny Forbes Memorial Day will take place on May 7 at Malpas Sports and Social Club, in aid of Donna Louise Hospice.

The Family Fun Day is free to enter, and opens at 2pm. There is also a Golf Day at nearby Carden Park.

“So far we have had a huge response from local businesses,” she added.

“It is so heart-warming to know there are so many kind and caring people in and around our communities.”

To help, contact Jessica on [email protected]

Johnny Forbes Memorial Day

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