A young man who supported his partner through the loss of two baby boys after premature births is campaigning to show that men can hurt too and that they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.
Jack Davis, 22, says that losing his two sons ‘broke him’ and explains how he felt there was a lack of support available to him as he struggled to cope with his grief.
He has now made a powerful film with Fixers talking about the loss of his children and the impact it had on him, in the hope of encouraging other men to reach out if they are struggling.
‘I wish that I’d been asked how I was doing more and told I could talk and open up,’ says Jack, a soldier from Bradford.
‘I want to show that men can feel pain and cry too and shouldn’t be stereotyped as tough.’
He explains how he first found out his partner Leanne McGregor was pregnant in 2015, when he was posted out in Germany with the army, and how they began preparing for Joey’s arrival.
‘We started going for scans, making plans and setting up the baby’s bedroom, buying clothes and toys and little shoes,’ he says.
However at 22 weeks, Leanne began to miscarry and sadly their baby was stillborn.
‘One minute we were expecting this beautiful boy to be born in a matter of months, the next thing we knew we were in hospital getting told that wasn’t what was going to happen,’ he says.
Leanne fell pregnant again in August 2016 – but Tommy was born prematurely at 24 weeks.
‘He lived for six days in intensive care fighting away, giving us memories and photographs. We got to hold his hand and he even opened his eyes for us. It’s something that will never leave my mind,’ says Jack.
‘Then we got a call at 5am saying we needed to go to the hospital quick because things weren’t looking good. The doctors told us that he had bleeding on the brain on both sides and there was a hole in his stomach.
‘Every tube and everything helping Tommy survive and grow to the size of a normal baby was all flooding straight back out of that hole and damaging him.
‘An operation couldn’t have saved him. Even if we’d tried getting him to another hospital he probably wouldn’t have made it.
‘We had to make the decision to take him off everything and let him go in our arms. I know I’ll never make a harder decision in my life. There’s no way of explaining the magnitude of how hard it hits you. It broke me.
‘I wish I could go back and do it all again just purely for the minutes I had with Joey and the six days I had with Tommy.’
Jack, who has also written a heartfelt blog post about his experiences which has been extensively shared online, feels there is a lack of awareness about how much losing a child hurts men too and wants to change that.
‘I felt the attention went more to Leanne, which is understandable. As a woman she carried the children and she had a lot more physical damage,’ he says.
'But men can hurt too - they can feel pain and cry and that needs to be made alright.
‘It’s not any less manly to show emotion, because you’ll never go through anything harder.’
Jack's project was supported by The Wellcome Trust
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