Baby Evie Tench has brought a ray of light into the lives of her heartbroken parents.
Danielle Tench and Wayne Unsworth were left grief-stricken when their nine-month-old daughter, Layla Tench, died in September.
The brave tot was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and during her short life underwent 13 operations, five of which were open heart surgery.
Her tiny body could eventually take no more and she died in her mam and dad’s arms after doctors turned off her life support machines.
On New Year’s Eve the Witherwack couple, who also lost their second son, James, when he was stillborn in 2010, welcomed healthy baby Evie Layla into the world weighing in at 8lb 0.5oz at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Although thrilled with their new addition, for the couple, her birth has been bitter sweet as they struggle to come to terms with the loss of Layla.
The pair, who are also parents to Matthew, eight, and four-year-old Emma, said the last year has been a huge emotional rollercoaster.
Wayne, 27, a fork lift truck driver, said: “Layla was just a baby herself when she died, I was so worried that when the new baby came, even though we were already expecting her, it would feel like we were trying to replace her somehow.
“I said she wasn’t going to use any of Layla’s things such as her cot and I wanted to buy all new.
“But, once she arrived I realised it wasn’t like that. Evie is such a little person in her own right and is completely different in nature to Layla. Nothing could replace Layla, Evie is a different person.
“I just want to sit and cuddle her all day.”
He said despite being very ill Layla was always alert and smiling and loved her food, but Evie is a night owl, sleeping all day, but keeping everyone awake during the night and is fussy with her bottles.
Just a few days after Evie’s birth, the couple had to face another heartbreaking milestone, with would have been Layla’s first birthday on January 3.
Danielle, 26, said: “My due date was December 30 and the main thing I didn’t want was for the baby to be born on Layla’s birthday, it would have been too hard.
“But, once I knew they were going to start my labour on my due date I felt relieved.”
The couple said they could not agree on a name for the baby, but Danielle decided on Evie, when she arrived on New Year’s Eve, and they gave her the middle name Layla in honour of her sister.
Danielle said because Layla spent most of her short life in hospital the situation has been hard to grasp for Emma and they keep explaining to her that the new baby is Evie and not Layla.
She said: “She is still young and can’t appreciate what forever means. She said ‘will Layla come back from heaven when she’s better?’ and we have to explain that you can’t come back from heaven.”