Coronation Street star Kym Marsh has said that recreating a stillbirth on screen was the “best way to honour” the baby she lost.
In Wednesday night’s episode, Kym’s character Michelle Connor went into labour at 23 weeks into her pregnancy, resulting in the death of her baby Ruairi at birth.
After losing her own son, Archie, in a similar way eight years ago, she said she felt a “gut instinct” to take on the story and encourage people to open up about their own experiences.
Kym, 40, said: “My gut instinct was to do this because, I felt, what better way to raise awareness of this subject, and also to honour my son?
“This subject has been very taboo for far too long. Sharing is absolutely imperative to being able to put the pieces of your jigsaw back together.”
The episode saw Michelle and husband Steve McDonald, played by Simon Gregson, go through the heartache of being told there is no way to save their baby and that, because he was born before 24 weeks, he will not be given a birth certificate.
Comparing it to her own experience, Kym said: “Calling my son a late miscarriage was one of the things that really got to me because I had just given birth to a baby, I didn’t miscarry him.
“When I’m not here any more, nobody will know that my baby existed, and that is upsetting for a lot of women I think.”
While the creators ensured there was a psychotherapist on the set to offer counselling, Kym and Simon revealed how the process forced them both to delve into memories they had been trying to avoid.
“I didn’t know what was in the box until I lifted the lid off,” Kym added.
“You never get over it, but you learn to live with it, and diving back into that place that I spent years coming out of strangely helped me to realise that I have accepted that it happened to me.
“There will not be a singe day that goes by that I don’t think about him, but I am able to talk and reach out to other people who have been in that situation.”
It was an equally close-to-home experience for Simon, 42, who also lost a baby with his wife Emma Richards.
@msm4rsh OUTSTANDING xx— simon gregson (@simongregson123) January 11, 2017
Describing his role in the programme, which saw him try to comfort Michelle while she insists he does not understand how she feels, he said: “As a bloke you feel completely helpless.
“Men and women grieve differently … we decided to let Michelle show the raw emotion, but Steve’s grief will come later.”
The script was developed with advice from specialist bereavement group Sands, which ensured that proper terminology and information was used so the story would relate to viewers who have had similar experiences.