A devastated couple has shared the heart-wrenching moment their baby daughter River tragically died in their arms after being born prematurely at 27 weeks.
First-time parents Lisa Roy, 35, and Jaimie-Lee Smith, 27, were filled with joy when they fell pregnant in August 2018, after conceiving via IVF using a sperm donor.
But little River suffered two massive brain haemorrhages shortly after she was born via an emergency C-section in the early hours of February 5.
The couple, from the New South Wales Central Coast, spent just 32 hours with their dying daughter building memories of her in candid photographs before they made the agonising decision to switch her life support off.
‘We held River in bed as she died in our arms,’ Ms Roy told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Holding her was incredible, and equally as devastating. While we were so happy to finally be able to hold our tiny daughter, our hearts broke at the thought that this would be the first and last time we held our baby when she was alive.’
Lisa Roy (right) and Jaimie-Lee Smith (left) have shared their heartbreak after their premature baby daughter River tragically died at 27 weeks in February
The couple spent just 32 hours with their dying daughter building memories of her in candid photographs before they made the agonising decision to switch her life support off
Little River pictured clutching onto her mother’s finger shortly after birth
The cause of her tragic death was due to her premature birth and the complications of Ms Roy’s waters breaking so early in the pregnancy.
Following their first attempt at IVF, the couple ‘cried with happiness’ when they discovered they were expecting a baby together.
The pregnancy started off ‘perfect’ and both mother and unborn baby were ‘healthy and well’ – but at 13 weeks, the couple noticed something was wrong.
‘One night at home, I had experienced a large gush of fluid but we were reassured it was totally normal and nothing to be concerned about,’ Ms Roy said.
‘At 16 weeks I suffered a night of horrible pain and discomfort that resulted in very little sleep, so the following morning I went to the hospital where I had an ultrasound and we found out my waters had broke.
‘We saw an obstetrician that night who confirmed the outcome wouldn’t be good, and that our baby won’t survive.
‘It was a horribly cruel series of events that were all present in one pregnancy.’
The excited couple (pictured with their dog Levi) were expecting River in May this year – but she arrived on February 5 after Ms Roy’s waters broke unexpectedly at 13 weeks
The distraught couple spent just 32 hours with baby River before they made the heartbreaking decision to switch her life support off
The night before River was born, Ms Roy was rushed to the birthing suite after she experienced excruciating pain and heavy bleeding.
‘My health and our baby’s health had rapidly declined,’ she said.
River was born prematurely at 27 weeks weighing just 789 grams and measuring 32 centimetres – but she only lived for 32 hours.
‘We knew from 17 weeks that the odds were against our baby surviving, however nothing can ever prepare you to have to say goodbye to your child,’ Ms Roy said.
‘We just held her, kissed her and cuddled her and told her just how much we loved her, how proud of her we were, how strong and brave she was and how we were so sorry that she couldn’t stay here with her mums.
‘We were completely and utterly heartbroken and devastated. There are no words to describe how it felt to have our daughter take her last breath in our arms.’
The couple – who have been together for two years – were filled with joy when Ms Roy fell pregnant after the first round of IVF
The couple made the tough decision to switch her life support off after she suffered severe brain haemorrhages that ‘would have catastrophic consequences on River’s tiny little delicate body’.
‘We never wanted our baby to suffer. We made the decision to always do what was best for her, to ensure she would go on to have a great quality of life,’ Ms Roy said.
‘So while we always knew we would never let River suffer, making that heartbreaking decision to let our daughter go is not something we would ever wish on anybody. Our hearts were completely shattered.
‘The agony we both felt was so deep and so unbelievably traumatic we both still can’t find the words to describe it, we probably never will. Our hearts are broken and will never again be whole.
Ms Roy broke down as she spent her final moments with her daughter River, who was seen clutching onto her mum’s finger
After finding the strength to relive their traumatic ordeal, the brave couple wanted to share their story in the hope of helping other families go through grief.
‘We had to say goodbye to our beautiful little daughter. It was and still is horrendously painful,’ Ms Roy said.
‘Child loss is not spoken about anywhere near enough, and that absolutely needs to change. We have felt so terribly isolated since River died and it breaks our hearts knowing other parents experience what we are experiencing.
The parents documented their pregnancy as they were expecting their first child together
After finding the strength to relive their traumatic ordeal, the couple wanted to share their story in the hope of helping other families go through grief (picture of Ms Roy holding her daughter River at the funeral home for the last time before she was cremated)
The couple were expecting their first child together – but River died after she was born prematurely (picture of Ms Roy pregnant)
‘River is our daughter who deserved to live a long and happy life. We didn’t just lose our daughter, we lost everything we had imagined our lives as a little family of three would be. We cope because we have to, the world around us has carried on, but we stay completely still.’
Three months since her death, the couple have decided to sell everything and go travelling around Australia in a caravan so they could have the ‘freedom to grieve’ over their late daughter.
To other parents who have suffered the loss of their baby, Ms Roy said: ‘Grief and the loss of your precious child will never go away, it will always be with you, and it’s okay to feel it. It’s okay to sit in your sadness and just feel it in it’s entirety, after all, you have just had to say goodbye to your child, and nobody should ever have to do that.’
To make a donation, please visit the couple’s GoFundMe page.