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Reality TV star Jessica Hayes suffered every mother’s worst nightmare last month when she miscarried five months into her second pregnancy.
The shock news was made even more unbearable as the tragedy came just days after she proudly showed off her blossoming bump in a shoot with new! magazine – where she and fiancé Dan Lawry revealed their excitement at the impending birth, which was due to happen in April.
The baby, named Teddy, was a brother for the couple’s son Presley. And when new! gives Jess a call at her Oxfordshire home to find out how she’s been coping, she’s feeling burnt out due to the 19-month-old waking her up at 5am.
“My heart is shattered,” the 27-year-old says before getting emotional. “These have been the hardest months of my life, but being a mum to Presley has helped get me through losing Teddy. ”
Love Island's Jessica Hayes says she's 'not ready to forget baby boy' after devastating miscarriage
Love Island’s Jessica Hayes says son Presley ‘gives her a reason to carry on’ after devastating miscarriage
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New! are chatting to Jess shortly after their shoot, which she bravely chose to go ahead with in order to raise awareness of late miscarriage – something one in every 100 pregnant women experience.
Before becoming a doting mum, Jess found fame in 2015 as the winner of ITV’s Love Island with her former flame, Max Morley.
The romance didn’t work out and she met and fell in love with Dan, getting engaged in 2018.
Here, Jess opens up about the loss of her baby, dealing with her grief and looking to the future…
Hi, Jess. How have you been coping since losing Teddy?
These have been the hardest months of my life, without a doubt. The early days were horrible. It was so hard to function. But Presley has helped me through it.
Can you tell us what happened?
Well, we’d done the baby reveal with you guys and were over the moon. Then a few days later I was relaxing on the sofa and noticed that I’d started bleeding. I knew it was strange and a warning sign. But I was halfway through my pregnancy and presumed I was safe. I didn’t panic but rang the hospital and they asked me to come in to check me over. With coronavirus, it was a nightmare, so they asked me to get an ambulance. But I wanted to make my own way with Dan. When we got there, Dan wasn’t allowed in, so I was on my own when they checked the baby’s heartbeat, which was fine. I was panicking but trying to stay as calm as possible.
That must have been so scary for you. What then?
They asked me to stay in for the night so they could monitor me. I felt fine! They kept checking Teddy and there was nothing wrong with him. So at first, I was quite relaxed. They just couldn’t explain where the bleeding was coming from. Then I was watching Netflix when my waters broke. I tried to get up but fell to the floor. I knew it was bad. I rang for the doctors and nurses, who started checking to see if I was going to go into labour.
How were you feeling then?
I was just a complete mess. I was taken to the delivery suite because they were expecting me to give birth. I called Dan at that point, which I was so grateful for. Because it was such a bad situation, he was allowed to come and sit with me.
That must have been a real comfort. What happened next?
We just had to wait all night. It was so horrible because we knew it wouldn’t be good.
What were the nurses and doctors saying?
They were telling me that it wouldn’t be good. Sorry if this is a little graphic but I was bleeding so badly and it just wouldn’t stop. It was horrendous and it didn’t make sense where it was all coming from! By then I knew the inevitable was happening. I couldn’t drink, eat or sleep. I was in such a bad way. In the morning, they scanned me. He still had a heartbeat but no water surrounding him. I was still bleeding so much, there was blood everywhere. By this point, they just had to get him out. So they had to induce me to go into labour. It was a really long wait, about 12 hours. I had some pain relief and then [takes a deep breath and pauses] I had him.
Who was with you through the labour?
Although I had Dan with me, I really wanted my mum. So she swapped over and was there with me during the labour. It’s not that I didn’t want Dan but I could only pick one person and I felt like I needed my mum. They also didn’t know if I was going to be OK as you can get really sick and I lost a lot of blood. My life was in danger as well as the baby’s.
What happened after the labour?
Well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see him. I didn’t know what to expect or what a baby looks like at 20 weeks. It was hard to get my head around. Then they took me to the bereavement suite and in the end, I knew, of course I needed to see him. He was my son. My mum saw him as well and then they let Dan come and say goodbye. That was the hardest thing in the world [starts crying]. I’m sorry.
Don’t say sorry. That must have been so tough for you, Jess…
[Through tears] I felt like I owed it to him to see him. He’s as much my son as Presley [sobs]. I think the hardest thing was seeing him so small but so perfect. He was like a little doll. Seeing your child and not being able to take them home is the worst thing in the world.
You’ve said how much Teddy looked like Presley…
Yeah, they looked very similar. It was all such a struggle.
Were you surprised he was a little boy?
I was! It would have been the best thing in the world for Presley to have a brother.
What made you pick the name Teddy?
I’m super-organised. I’d already chosen my girl and boy names for the baby. Teddy was always going to be the boy’s name. I said to Dan, “But what if I want to use it in the future?” He said, “No, he is our second son who you were always going to call Teddy, so call him Teddy.” I knew he was right. He deserves that name.
What was the morning after like?
I just had to get through it hour by hour. I couldn’t think ahead. I’d wake up and feel like I was in a dream. It’s such a weird headspace. My mum stayed over for four days at a time after. I also spoke to the Sands helpline. Then I came across a Facebook group where people had lost their babies and could speak about it. They shared photos, so that helped at the start. I wouldn’t ever share my photos of Teddy though because they’re personal.
How did your body react to the miscarriage?
I had to be given blood-thinning injections and felt very weak. I chose not to have a postmortem. It was a weird one because his heart didn’t stop, it was my body that was the problem. That makes me even sadder. I’ve had some tests on the placenta, so I’m waiting to see if they show anything. But I’m not expecting them to find anything. When these things happen, you automatically think there’s something wrong with you, when there probably isn’t.
Who did you tell first about your loss?
My family. It wasn’t until I posted about it on Instagram that I got a lot of support. [Fellow Love Island star] Malin Andersson went through something similar herself and she’s been amazing. We’re quite close and she’s been helping me through.
Was it hard going from celebrating your pregnancy publicly to having to tell everyone you’d miscarried?
Definitely. I announced it late anyway. I thought I wasn’t as far along as I was but when I had Teddy they told me he was at least 20 weeks. I felt like I didn’t have the chance to celebrate with my bump pictures because before I knew it [pauses] it was all over.
Did you ever expect this to happen to you?
No, never. You hear and read about it but never think it’ll be you. Especially after having such an easy pregnancy with Presley. When I was in hospital losing my child, I instantly went on to Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram. I know lots of people were saying what she shared [after losing her baby last year] was too graphic but I felt like I could relate to her. Our stories are so similar.
Did you do anything to remember Teddy by?
He was cremated and then we had a service. His ashes are now at home and I’ve got a memory box. It’s so nice to have him here with us. Knowing that he’s here is a blessing.
Does Presley understand what’s happened?
No and I’m so grateful. It’s horrible for him to see me sad and he has looked a little worried on occasions. But you just have to pull it together.
Do you talk to Presley about Teddy?
Yeah, all the time! I always tell him his little brother will be watching over him. I would want nothing more for them to be together. It’s so sad [sobs]. I’ll keep talking about him as he gets older too. I always look at Presley now and wonder if the two of them would have been identical.
Do you and Dan talk about Teddy a lot?
I always say how beautiful Teddy was. I try to talk about him every day, whether it be to Presley or Dan. I think men often deal with things differently, so sometimes I don’t know if talking too much about Teddy makes Dan upset. But talking is what’s helping me right now.
How has Dan coped?
He was just as bad as me to start with. But men try to be strong and get on with things. They hide it better but of course he’s just as heartbroken and still gets upset.
Have you spoken to a therapist to help you move forward?
Yeah, I have spoken to someone and I’ve got more therapy sessions planned. When it happened I was in self-destruct mode and just wanted the pain to go away. Now, it’s slowly getting better. I have a couple of days where I’ll be OK and then three days in a row where I won’t stop crying. But I do think having Presley has been such a blessing. I have to get up for him, I can’t stay in bed or turn to alcohol. I have to be a mum to him. I have a responsibility. I’m so grateful and I don’t know if I’d have got through it without him.
How has this experience made you feel about having more children?
I feel like I’m in a race against time. I want to get pregnant now because I want that same age gap. But part of me knows I absolutely shouldn’t do that because I haven’t got any results on why it happened. The thought of it happening again is just awful. I want to have a look at my health and see why it happened first. Even if I might not get any answers. I definitely want more children, I want a big family more than anything. I’m not giving up. I just need some time because I’m so traumatised.
Has lockdown made this all so much harder to cope with?
Oh my God, 100%. You don’t have the support of [through sobs] your family or friends. I can’t keep busy or go out. Normally, if I’d go through trauma, I’d go away to somewhere where I can be by the sea and let myself heal. But I’m at home with a 19-month-old during a national lockdown and
I haven’t got anywhere to turn or anywhere to escape. I’m dealing with my own thoughts and all I can do is go for a walk. It’s made it so much harder.
Have you noticed anything that triggers your grief?
Social media. It’s so difficult seeing scan pictures and pregnancy announcements. I’ve had to mute people that I love following. If I see any mums with boys who are the same age gap, that’s one of the hardest things. That should be me and I’ve had that taken away from me.
You said on Instagram that lots of your followers had been messaging you about Teddy. What’s that been like?
I wanted to share my story and was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came forward and said they’d been through the same thing. When it first happened, I think me posting a lot was my way of dealing with it. It was like a therapy. Because I was getting thousands of messages from other women, it made me realise I wasn’t on my own. The fact that I helped people is massive to me.
Are you proud that you are able to use your platform to create awareness?
Of course. It gives me comfort to think I might be able to help other women who are going through the same thing. I am now an official ambassador for Saying Goodbye, which is with the Mariposa Trust. They deal with anyone who goes through child loss of up to four years of age. I’m also hoping to organise a ball called Teddy’s Ball perhaps later in the year, when or if things get back to normal by then. I’m also reaching out to brands to help send care packages to women in hospital dealing with baby loss, as it’s something I felt the hospitals could be helped with.
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What would your advice be to other women in your position?
Take it hour by hour. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel OK. It’s good to let it out. I love the saying, “Grief is just love but it’s love that’s got nowhere to go.” Also, don’t be afraid to speak out. Talk about your baby and know that they are important.
How has your relationship with Dan been since you lost Teddy?
At the start it really made us closer because we had to be strong for each other. But sometimes it is really hard. There’s times where I’ll be crying and he won’t be in the same headspace. We both grieve differently. But it’s definitely made us stronger.
Have wedding plans been put on hold?
When we lost Teddy, we really started focusing a lot more on the wedding. We just realised that life is so short! But we can’t do anything right now. It’s definitely happening though.
Would you go for a smaller wedding this year or wait until you can go big in the future?
I’d want to wait. I’ve always wanted a huge wedding. But part of me would happily fly to Barbados and get married on a beach. It’s just something really positive to focus on.
Is looking to the future a big help?
Yes, the future is bright. But [pauses] I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. I’ll never forget or get over losing Teddy.
Jess is now an ambassador for Saying Goodbye, the primary division of the Mariposa Trust, a UK-based charity providing support to anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby at any stage. Jess will be working closely with Saying Goodbye to raise awareness of the charity, help with fundraising and, most importantly, help other women who have suffered the tragedy of losing a baby
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