A Ripon couple who endured ten years of heartbreak with seven stillbirths and miscarriages in their quest for a child have hailed their new arrival a ‘miracle’
Little baby Mabel, who was born three months premature, has been busy settling in at the family home of proud parents Sara Sills, 39, and husband Chris, on Low Skellgate after doctors allowed her to leave care at Leeds General Infirmary.
“We call Mabel our ‘rainbow baby’ because after a storm, there is always a rainbow, so she’s definitely a miracle and means the world to us all,” said the proud 39-year-old mother.
Over the past decade, Sara and Chris – a 37–year-old former soldier with Ripon’s 21 Engineers – have lived through the agony of seven pregnancies ending prematurely either with stillbirths or miscarriages. The preganancies for their previous children – named Samuel, Nathaniel, Emmanuel, Ruben, Gabriel, Rose and Matilda – lasted up to 24 weeks and Sara said she feared she was going to give birth to Mabel when she was just 18 weeks pregnant.
“From 18 weeks onwards, she was trying to come out,” the former nursery nurse told the Gazette.
“I was sent out to a children’s hospital in Sheffield and spent most of the pregnancy in hospital. We were panicking and absolutely freaking out thinking she was trying to come out.
“I spent ten hours in labour before having a Caesarean section and Mabel was delivered in a sack of fluid which was popped when she was born, to make the birth less traumatic.”
Mabel was born weighing just 2lb, and Sara and Chris decided to get her blessed in her special premature baby incubator at Leeds General Infirmary because they feared she would not survive.
Sara – who was awake throughout Mabel’s birth – said: “You just wait out for that cry. When I heard that first cry, I just couldn’t get my head around it.”
Medical experts across the country have helped the couple bring Mabel into the world, with Sara even flying down to St Thomas’s Hospital in London when she fell preganant to see a professor. Sara said she “cannot thank enough” the doctors.
Even before Mabel was born, Sara and Chris were receiving congratulations cards from friends and families once the preganancy reached the third trimester.
“Everyone was saying ‘happy 27 weeks!’. I had only reached 17 weeks with Matilda but reached 24 with Ruben before I got an infection which affected him,” said Sara.
“I was told there was a cystic hygroma around Matilda, which could have been Down Syndrome or Turner Syndrome, but she died at 17 weeks.
“We wouldn’t have tried for another baby if Mabel hadn’t survived.”
Sara and Chris still consider their seven premature and stillborn children as “part of the family”, releasing balloons and lanterns and buying cards for their birthdays.
“Each one of them is still a child,” said Sara.
Sara and Chris, who are also parents to Stefan, 19 – who plays in the popular Ripon band Your Illuminations – Katie, 13 and Lily, 10, said they are often asked why they kept trying for another child after enduring years of trauma.
“Something was missing for us and we just tried everything in our power to ensure Mabel is now in our lives,” said Chris.
“We have always wanted a big family.”