Chesterfield mum who woke to find baby son dead in her arms courageously shares her story of love, loss and hope
One winter's morning, new mum Laurie Woodruff woke up to find her three-month-old baby son dead in her arms.
Her story is an unthinkable one, but important- just one of millions bravely being told across the world to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week (October 9-15).
Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) will see Laurie and other bereaved parents in Chesterfield unite for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, commemorating their babies in a global 'Wave of Light'.
In a bid to help break the silence and stigma surrounding the loss of a child, Laurie has re-lived not just the crashing devastation of her son's death, but also the overwhelming joy she experienced as a first-time mother.
In fact, it was 'love at first sight' when little Arthur was born by emergency c-section at Jessops Hospital, Sheffield, in 2015.
"I just couldn’t believe how beautiful he was, he was perfect in all ways," said Laurie, who was 25 at the time.
"I’d always struggled emotionally in life and now I had this beautiful little person to care for, which just gave me so much meaning and purpose in life- it was just what I needed.
"I loved being a mum and when I first saw him smile, I was overwhelmed with joy, I just couldn’t believe it. Most days I would just stare at him."
Laurie often bed shared with Arthur, as he had difficulty settling in his cot.
"He just wanted to be held all of the time," she said. "Little did I know, he probably knew more than me and knew that he wasn’t here to stay."
One night, when Arthur was three-months-old, Laurie fell asleep upright while breastfeeding him.
When she woke up, he was gone. Nothing would ever be the same again.
"It was the most horrific day and I felt as if I were living in some kind of cruel nightmare," said Laurie. "None of it made sense or seemed fair.
"The ambulance ride on the way to the hospital was the most awful experience ever- by the time we reached Sheffield Children's Hospital, he was pronounced dead."
A post-mortem examination revealed that Arthur had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as cot death.
Laurie said: "The days that followed were dark and desperate.
"I went to see Arthur every day in the mortuary at the Children’s hospital before his funeral.
"My family members told me that I should probably stop going so much, and so I had a break for two days from visiting him and cuddling his cold body.
"I knew he was gone but I still needed to be near him."
Laurie found a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a woman called Sandy, who worked at the hospital's Chapel of Rest.
"She was a lovely lady," said Laurie. "During my two day break, I was deciding what songs to play at Arthur's funeral and I decided to go to Meadowhall to buy a CD with the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on it.
"My mum said it would be busy at that time, but I insisted. I walked through the side entrance to get into Meadowhall and bumped straight into Sandy.
"I knew immediately that was Arthur's spirit telling me to go and see him. After that I never missed another day until the day of his funeral.
"And as I healed, I gradually game to the realisation that Arthur's death had happened for a reason.
"I had gained strength from it, knowing that nothing in life would ever beat me down or stop me ever again.
"If I could overcome losing a child, I could do anything- achieve anything that I wanted."
Through her grief, Laurie rekindled her 'long last passion' for writing and has since published a book.
Recovery came in another unusual form- Laurie became fascinated with astrology, which she completed training in along with psychotherapy.
She now works as a healer, psychic and astrologer, running her own business Luna Attic in Kelham Island, Sheffield.
The niche business specialises in astrological birth charts, along with psychic and psychological services, courses and classes.
Helping others through dark periods in their lives, allowing them to unlock their full potential and 'purpose', as Laurie terms it, has allowed her to soar.
Now 30, she has since gone on to have another little boy, Henry.
He's two-years-old now and the spitting image of his big brother.