Conservative MP tells of ‘never letting go’ of grieving for her baby daughter

An MP wept as she told the story of her “choice that is no choice at all” to terminate her pregnancy.

Conservative Cherilyn Mackrory told the Commons that parents can “never really let go” after losing their children, but added the “sun will shine again” for grieving families.

The Truro and Falmouth MP called for more support to be given to bereaved families after they have lost a baby, in a debate which also saw former health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s voice falter as he discussed his own family’s loss.

Ms Mackrory told MPs about being given the news at 20 weeks pregnant, that her daughter Lily had a severe form of spina bifida, before talking about “the termination itself, the delivery, the cuddles and the kisses from my daughter Lily, and finally of letting her go”.

She added: “You never really let them go though, do you?”

After taking several interventions from other MPs, allowing her to take a break, she said: “To anyone who this has happened to, despite what you might see, the sun will shine again.

“It doesn’t feel like it now, but one day it just does, and for me the dark clouds of shock, anger, guilt and dreadful, dreadful sadness do eventually dissipate.”

former health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
former health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Ms Mackrory said more needed to be done to support bereaved families who had lost babies, calling on all hospitals to adopt as mandatory the National Bereavement Care Pathway to help grieving parents.

She added: “People often ask how mum is, but may not ask how dad is.

“In my opinion this is not healthy, and what about the wider family?

“Grandparents are grieving for their lost grandchild, wondering how best to support, siblings are wondering what has happened.”

She also called for the Government to address the “higher risk” to babies from BAME and deprived backgrounds face, adding that “health inequalities in relation to maternity outcomes have been known for over 70 years”.

Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s voice cracked with emotion as he told the Commons: “My sister, Sarah, died when she was just six months old and I was only two so I have no memory of it.

“But for my father’s entire life, he died eight years ago, my mother used to tell us never to mention Sarah because he found it so hard.”

He added: “There is no timeline for grief.”

Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones (Pontypridd) thanked Ms Mackrory for her “bravery and strength”, adding: “By speaking out and helping to remove the stigma around these conversations she will have helped thousands of families in all of our constituencies, and that is Lily’s legacy.”

Ms Davies-Jones recalled her own difficulties with infertility before her “happy ending”, telling MPs she was “hand on heart absolutely ecstatic about the prospect of motherhood” when she received IVF treatment.

Maria Caulfield (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
Maria Caulfield (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

She added: “But, as often is the case, life was more than ready to cause chaos because when my son arrived two weeks early after an emergency Caesarean he stopped breathing.

“My beautiful child, my longed-for child was whisked away to a neo-natal intensive care unit where he spent two weeks fighting for survival while my husband and I were utterly beside ourselves with anxiety.

“Both of us were completely broken at the thought of losing our little one and I know this feeling is shared by so many parents across the country.”

Health minister Maria Caulfield said the Government was “making progress” with its ambition to halve the 2010 rates of stillbirth, neonatal and maternal deaths by 2025, with stillbirths reducing by 25% over the decade.

She added: “Specifically around preventing maternal death and morbidity from Covid, recent findings from a national perinatal study showed that 742 women admitted to hospital since vaccination data has been collected, four had received a single dose of the vaccine and none had received both doses.

“This means that more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptomatic Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

“One message I want to get across today is that is hugely important that both mothers and their families are vaccinated to improve their safety.”