It was Christmas Eve when Jade and Andrew Barton left Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital after spending four precious days with their newborn baby.
While other smiling parents were taking their newborns home for their first Christmas, sadly, they knew her daughter Riley would not be going home with them.
“She weighed just 110g. She so was tiny she didn't stand a chance," Jade, said.
Scan pictures of the twins (PA Real Life/Collect)
Yet, she and Andrew treasure every moment they had with Riley, who was placed in a cuddle cot in the hospital's Butterfly Suite, a special place for families to spend time with the babies they have lost.
“We came out of hospital on Christmas Eve and I didn't want to leave Riley," Jade recalled.
“The staff gave us blankets and teddy bears and we had foot and hand prints made."
Riley's hand and footprints (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We were able to make amazing memories with her and were given a beautiful memory box. It helped us massively with the grieving process," she continued.
“We left hospital with something of her even though we didn't leave with her."
Sadly, that was not the first time they have bid farewell to a baby.
Desperate to become parents, Jade and Andrew have also experienced three miscarriages and last month they lost their twins, George and Amelia, who passed away after just an hour of life.
Refusing to give up, during more than a decade of trying for a baby, they have had four successful and one unsuccessful round of IVF. Remortgaging their house to meet estimated costs of $38,200, as well as receiving financial help from loved ones.
Yet, this brave pair's message to would-be parents remains not to give up hope.
Riley's funeral (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I have always said, from the beginning, that while the pain of not having a family is still more than the pain of everything we are going through with IVF, I will continue to try," Jade said.
Jade and Andrew first started trying for a baby 12 years ago.
With no pregnancy in sight, Jade was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition making natural conception difficult.
Positive pregnancy test for Riley (PA Real Life/Collect)
“The doctor said we could still get pregnant with it and as we were young we should just keep trying," she said.
When another year passed without falling pregnant, they were referred to a gynecologist at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, where tests revealed that Jade was not releasing any eggs.
Given medication to stimulate ovulation, when it failed to work after six months, she had some cysts removed from her ovaries.
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Still failing to ovulate by the end of 2012, her doctors advised her to try IVF.
The advice came as a shock to the couple.
“I was 24, so we were thinking we would have to wait another five or six years, as there was no way we would be able to afford to pay for private IVF. It felt completely out of reach," said Jade.
Jade and Andrew (PA Real Life/Collect)
In June 2013, Andrew and Jade tied the knot, scraping together enough money by Christmas to pay for one round of IVF. And, now with a change in policy to make it available to couples aged over 25 on the NHS.
“In January 2014, I started medication and managed to get 21 eggs, but I overstimulated, which happens when too many eggs develop and become large and painful, so I ended up in hospital for a week," Jade said.
“We had six viable eggs, two of which were transferred a couple of months after my hospital stay. We fell pregnant, but miscarried the day before our first scan. It was the first positive pregnancy test I'd ever had, but it was all over before it had begun."
Items for the twins (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We thought, maybe, because we had two eggs, that was the problem, so the next time we tried with one but did not fall pregnant at all," she said.
Feeling the emotional and physical toll of the process, they took a break for a year before trying again with the remaining three embryos, but failed to conceive.
In 2017, the couple borrowed $15,200 from friends and family to pay for three rounds of IVF with a private company that offered a full refund if they didn't fall pregnant.
“I can't even think about how much we've spent over the years, I hardly dare to add it up," Jade said.
“Each time you have to pay for medication on top and to store the embryos. It costs thousands and thousands. I spent money on medication, but sometimes I still didn't produce eggs for retrieval and would have to try again."
George and Amelia's hand and footprints (PA Real Life/Collect)
“The next month using the same medication I would produce dozens of eggs. It all seemed to be down to luck," Jade said.
“One month we got 36 eggs and from that eight embryos. From those embryos we had two transfers and miscarried both times at seven weeks."
After an ultrasound scan failed to detect any reason for her miscarriages, Jade tried again with another embryo and had another positive pregnancy test.
George and Amelia's funeral (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We were cautiously optimistic," she said. “We went for our 12-week scan and everything looked fine, but then at 17 weeks I went into labor and Riley was born sleeping."
Jade lost a lot of blood during labor and was rushed straight to theatre, where medics managed to stabilize her.
A few hours later, she met Riley and the couple spent four days with her before holding a heartbreaking funeral.
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Meanwhile, further investigations revealed that Jade had an incompetent cervix, which according to charity Tommy's happens when the cervix shortens and opens in the second trimester.
“With the polycystic ovary syndrome and the weak cervix, I'm really unlucky," she said.
“It makes it harder to conceive and harder to carry a baby, which explained why Riley did not survive."
George and Amelia's funeral (PA Real Life/Collect)
The couple tried again with their two remaining embryos in February 2019 and, when they did not conceive, they had another attempt this time having the embryos genetically tested to try and minimize the risk of miscarriage.
Jade again overstimulated and ended up in the hospital. But produced 38 eggs, seven of which became embryos, which were all tested and proved to be fine.
“We'd basically taken a massive gamble and it hadn't paid off. We had one round of IVF left, but no embryos in the freezer," she said.
George and Amelia (PA Real Life/Collect)
In January this year, the couple tried again, this time with Jade producing 53 eggs and being hospitalized once more for overstimulating.
But 24 embryos were frozen, with two being transferred in April.
“At our six-week scan we were shocked to see that both had worked and we were going to have two babies, which we were so happy about, as it meant we would never have to do this again – we would have our family," said Jade.
“I had bleeding, so was on bed rest, but at our 12-week scan, everything looked fine. At the 14-week scan, they found my cervix had started to shorten the way it had with Riley, so I spoke to a specialist at a hospital in London, who was able to put a cervical stitch in to close it and reduce the risk of the babies coming too early."
But at 20 weeks, one of her waters broke, so Jade was taken to hospital and given antibiotics enabling doctors to remove the stitch which had become infected.
Gender reveal for George and Amelia (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I had to hope the infection did not get worse and that labor did not start. We had to try and get as far along as we could," she said.
“Sadly, doctors told us that the little boy, George, was unlikely to survive, because he had no water and his lungs would not be strong enough. We just wanted to get to 24 weeks to give his sister, Amelia, the best chance."
Floral tributes to George and Amelia (PA Real Life/Collect)
But at 22 weeks labor started and the twins were both born on August 15.
“We got to kiss and cuddle both of them, but there was no chance, they were just too tiny. Amelia weighed 360g and George 404g, so doctors would not have been able to get a breathing tube into them," Jade said.
“They both lived for about an hour and died with me cuddling them."
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Again the heartbroken couple spent four days with the twins staying in the Butterfly Suite, making hand and footprints and precious memories.
From Leia with Love, a charity group, provided a dress and little outfit for both babies, whose funeral took place at Basingstoke Crematorium.
With 22 embryos remaining, Jade and Andrew refuse to give up on their dream of having a family.
Details of George and Amelia's birth (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I would tell other people going through something similar that it's important to talk to people and get advice, but that, inevitably, only you will know when you're ready to give up. You know what's right for you in your heart," Jade said.
“It is draining physically and emotionally and it's easy for it to consume you, but you have to try not to let it and to take care of each other and your relationship."
“We've had lots of support from social media groups and chatted to people who have had losses as we have, as well as to people who it has worked out for. Baby charities like Tommy's, SANDS, and SiMBA, which makes memory boxes, have also been really supportive."
Balloons released in memory of George and Amelia (PA Real Life/Collect)
Jade's sister Nicola Meredith launched a GoFundMe page to raise $2,500 for the twins' funeral, but they have now made $2,900 and are donating any extra funds to the Butterfly Suite.
“The compassion and care we received from the midwives was amazing and I can't stress enough how outstanding the Butterfly Suite is," said Jade.
“We want to thank everyone who has donated so far. Sometimes I just wish that feeling of wanting to be a mum and have a family would go away."
A cushion in memory of the three babies they have lost (PA Real Life/Collect)
“If it did I wouldn't have to go through this horrible process and keep blaming myself, but it doesn't," she said.
“But I want to be a mum more than anything. We will keep trying until I can't take anymore."
To donate visit GoFundMe here.