Friday, October 17 marks an occasion that should have been one of the happiest of Rebecca and Michael Vitelli’s life.

This was the day their second child was due to be born and the couple, from Mickle Trafford, were thrilled and excited at the prospect of giving their two-year-old son Romeo a baby brother.

For the first 23 weeks, everything in Rebecca’s pregnancy progressed normally but on the morning of Michael’s 23rd birthday in July this year, everything changed.

“I had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right that day,” said Rebecca, who works at Lloyds Banking Group in Chester.

“I had a gut feeling which made me call the labour ward at the Countess of Chester and ask to be seen by a doctor as I thought I had an infection.

"Because I didn’t think I was in labour, I took my time to get ready and I dropped Romeo off at nursery, letting my husband know that I would be back shortly after I had been checked.

“But once I got there, things escalated very quickly. I was checked by a junior doctor who explained he believed I was in labour. At this point he called the head consultant in to check me and that’s when my worst fears where confirmed - I was in labour.”

A devastated Rebecca was told her son had a low chance of survival and she needed to be rushed to Arrowe Park Hospital which is equipped to take care of babies from as young as 23 weeks gestation.

Two days later on July 4, she gave birth to Sebastian who weighed 1lb 10oz.

Baby Sebastian Vertelli of Mickle Trafford, who only lived for 31 days
 

“He gave such a great fight and I believed that he would survive but unfortunately he got an infection which he could not fight and his kidneys failed as a result of all of the medication he was given,” recalls Rebecca.

“He proved doctors wrong so many times that we were told no fewer than three times to prepare ourselves for his passing from 11 days old. He made it through three emergency operations and travelled over 50 miles in an ambulance for several trips - all of which the doctors said he wouldn’t survive. He really was our little fighter.”

But exactly a month later, it all got too much for little Sebastian, who lost his brave battle after 31 days.

Thanks to the Arrowe Park Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC) facility which provides a free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families, his parents had been able to spend every day of his short life with him.

“We shared so many amazing moments with him from changing his nappy to feeding him and holding him and bathing him. One of the staff at RMHC gave me a book called Giraffes Can’t Dance, which was his favourite - every time I read it to him he opened his eyes and held my finger tight and he improved,” said Rebecca.

“RMHC were amazing. We want to raise money for them because we would have done anything to be near Sebastian, even slept in the street just to be close to him. But they provided us a lovely place to stay when we were on our knees experiencing the worst thing we have ever faced in our lives.”

Rebecca and Michael Vertelli who lost a baby son, Sebastian, with their two year old son Romeo
 

The charity is a non-profit organisation which has to raise £100,000 a year just to stay open, costing £25 a night to accommodate one family with a free place to stay for as long as they need.

Rebecca and Michael have already set the ball rolling to hit their fundraising target of £5,000, setting up Sebby’s Stars with the help of friends and family. So far £1,100 has been raised from donations and activities, including the Chester Marathon for Sebastian, and by selling sock monkeys and bracelets. Local jewellery businesses Kelly Anne Collection and Jewellery by Jojo has also donated items.

“I just want to say thank you for helping us by raising money to help other families like mine who needed to rely on the support of this fantastic charity,” says Rebecca.

 “I don’t want my son to die without a purpose, I want his memory to live on by making other families lives a little easier when they are faced with such torture.

“The only thing worse than having a sick child is not being to be able to be there by their side and Ronald McDonald House allowed us to be by Sebastian’s side 24/7 for the whole of his life.”

Rebecca and Michael are keen to raise as much awareness of Sebby’s Stars as they can, and invite readers to like their Facebook page and visit their justgiving page.