‘I wish I’d had cover when I lost my daughter and fell into debt’

‘I wish I’d had cover when I lost my daughter and fell into debt’

Trigger warning: This article references child loss.

Baby Lillie was just one month old when she passed away after undergoing two major operations on her bowels and suffering a bout of meningitis, which spread in and around her brain.

Her mother, protection adviser Emma Astley, was 24-and-half weeks pregnant when Lillie was born prematurely.

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When Astley went into labour, she was passed between hospitals due to capacity issues. 

She was then told the labour had stopped, and that after two days of bed rest she would be able to move around again.

But while her husband went home to get a change of clothes, Astley gave birth to Lillie on a hospital toilet. 

“It was awful. She got scooped off and taken away. We were separated then for several hours due to how much blood I had lost,” Astley told FTAdviser. 

In the weeks that passed, Lillie was kept in an incubator on oxygen support. That’s when there was a medical emergency involving her bowels, and the family was rushed to another hospital. 

'It helps me that Lillie's included and people are saying her name'

Lillie survived her first operation, despite just a 10 per cent chance of success. A week later, her bowels burst again, and she survived a second operation.

“She was doing so well. We thought she was going to pull through. She was a little fighter, and we wrote in her diary every day telling her how well she was doing and fighting for us.

“I still can’t read this diary to this day because of the memories.” said Astley.

But a couple of weeks later, Lillie was diagnosed with meningitis and her family had to say goodbye to her.

Astley was working full-time before she had Lillie but after the birth, she lost her monthly income of £1,200.

“That had a massive impact financially for us. Even though we were struggling with the grief of Lillie and looking after our five-year old son, we were worrying about paying the bills and the rent,” Astley recalled.

Her husband kept his job as a delivery driver, but with just one income to rely on, the couple fell into debt for more than 10 years.

Struggling to pay for essentials such as petrol, they borrowed money from various family members.

“I wish we’d known about insurance. If we’d known about income protection. While there probably wasn’t 'bump cover' back then, there was cover for children. Lillie would have had cystic fibrosis,” Astley explained.