It was during their 20-week pregnancy scan in April 2015 that Liz and Will Butterell got the news no parent would ever want to hear. After hospital staff spotted that the left side of their baby’s heart was not developing properly, a hospital consultant sat Liz and Will down to tell them their child had hyperplastic left heart syndrome.
William David Butterell was born on 1 September 2015 and passed away peacefully in his parents’ arms at Bluebell Wood just 13 days later.
Because Liz has polycystic ovary syndrome, Liz and Will never thought having children would be easy, so it was a huge excitement when Liz came home in December 2014 with a positive pregnancy test.
Will said: “The 20-week scan, just four days before our wedding, was when everything changed. The consultant told us we had three options, either to interrupt the pregnancy; a heart operation with just a 50% chance of survival and a high chance of brain damage, or to do what we could for our son while he was alive. We decided we would let our son slip away peacefully.
“When we were first told about Bluebell Wood we hated the idea of a hospice, but we eventually realised this would offer us a chance of some family life, love and support.
“When William was born I cried my eyes out. He was beautiful. We held him and told him we loved him and couldn’t for a minute imagine that there was anything wrong with him. We were up for most of the night watching him sleep.
“The next day we dressed William in his little Superman outfit and took him to Bluebell Wood. A professional photographer came and took some fantastic pictures. William met some creatures, including a rabbit, rats and a frog. We’d told Bluebell Wood months before that we wanted to take William to the beach so they arranged one just for him by filling a big trough with sand and water.
“I sat with him on a trampoline and put him on a big swing. Liz took him on the roundabout and we went under the palm trees so he could feel the rain on his face. We walked through the beautiful gardens and laid him on the ground and watched as he ran his hands through the grass.
“We read The Gruffalo to William, a book that still makes me cry because of what it means to me. Bluebell Wood staff made casts from his hands and feet. William had cuddles from Disney princesses, met the Transformers and laid on Bumble Bee’s bonnet. When he was a week old, we had a birthday party with cake, presents, jelly and ice cream and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him.
“Family were always welcome and our mums visited every day. We could see Angie the counsellor whenever we needed to and someone was always there to have a cup of tea, a chat or a good cry with.
“On 14 September 2015 our little man took his last breath in our arms while we told him how much we love him and always will.
“We moved into the Forget-Me-Not suite, where we stayed with William until his funeral, giving us time and space to say goodbye, along with friends and family.
“Bluebell Wood was our home for nearly a month and our son’s only home. They helped us to have a life with him and make wonderful memories. We can never thank Bluebell Wood enough for everything they did and continue to do.”