But she found comfort in being able to care for her for two weeks – even taking her for walks and introducing her to her brothers and sisters.
Emma Woodhouse gave birth by emergency c-section to twins Jessica and Bella at only 29 weeks in June this year after Jessica’s umbilical cord ruptured in the womb.
Bella miraculously survived the traumatic birth but Jessica was stillborn despite medics battling for 22 minutes to resuscitate her.
Thanks to a cooling cot, the mum-of-five was able to bring Jessica home and spend a fortnight caring for her daughter, bathing her, taking her for walks with her husband Paul and even introducing her to her other children before her cremation.
Emma, from Lancaster, Lancs, said: “From the moment Jessica was born I just fell in love with her, she looked so perfect.
“Spending that fortnight with her and her sister was so, so wonderful.
“We want to show people that it’s possible to spend time with your baby after they’ve passed and to make memories with them.
“This shouldn’t be such a taboo subject. Her face was so perfect, I didn’t want to leave her on her own.
“Although she had passed away she’s my daughter and I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could.”
Emma, 27, had a high risk pregnancy because she has a rare heart-shaped womb, leaving her twins at risk of being born premature.
After going into labour at home at only 29 weeks, Emma was rushed to Royal Lancaster Infirmary for an emergency c-section.
Emma was given the heartbreaking news that Jessica hadn’t survived by husband Paul.
“It was amazing to find out that I was going to have twins as I’d always wanted them,” she recalled.
“But I felt weird for four weeks after I found out I was pregnant, which was very, very early.
“The pregnancy felt different and all along I was panicking that something was wrong.
“During the c-section it was very scary, my husband wasn't even allowed in.
“Straight away afterwards I asked him if she was OK. Paul looked at me and said that they’d saved Bella but couldn’t save Jessica.
“Being told that she was gone was terrible, it felt like it wasn't real and that I was in a nightmare.
“It’s the strangest feeling. You have all the joy of a newborn but also the devastation of the loss of a newborn.
“I was in shock for a long time.”
The couple were moved to a bereavement suite in the hospital with a cold cot where they could spend time with Jessica.
Emma and Paul were able to spend a fortnight visiting their daughter every day, spending time with her and taking her for walks in the hospital grounds.
They even introduced Jessica to twin sister Bella while she was still in an incubator, placing the two of them side-by-side.
Her older brothers Jack, five, and Mikey, four, and sister Nicole, two, also met their baby sister.
“We kept in her a Moses basket in the mortuary so she wouldn’t turn blue,” Emma said.
“The staff were amazing, they were all specially trained and tried to give us as many opportunities as possible to make memories with her.
“They gave us much as time as we wanted. We brought Jack in to meet her.
“Jack is very grown up but I don’t really think he understood that I was in hospital.
“I told him that Bella and Jessica had come early and then explained to him that she’d gone to heaven.
“He got upset and then he held her, cuddled her and played with her hands and feet. It was beautiful to see.
“We weren't sure about the other kids and the midwife said to bring them to play near her.
“It was lovely, the kids played and ran around her and leaned in and looked on her.”
Two weeks after her birth, the couple dressed Jessica for the final time before her cremation.
Emma and Paul picked out a special gown for their baby girl and washed her.
“I washed her skin and her hair and it was like washing any other of my children,” Emma said.
“We took some pics of Jessica and Bella together and then the woman from the funeral director came to collect her.
“It felt complete putting them together when I got to hold both of them. It felt right.”
The couple have placed Jessica’s ashes in their bedroom and had all of their children photographed with her urn.
Emma thinks Jessica died in order to save her sister Bella, due to Jessica's ruptured umbilical causing Emma to go into labour early.
Without this, Bella's deteriorating umbilical cord would not have been found by doctor's and she may have died too.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her,” she said.
“We include her in everything that we do because we want to keep her memory alive.
“We want to keep her included in everything.
“Jessica gave Bella life and we see so much of her in Bella. Whenever I see Bella I see Jessica as well.”
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