The baby I pictured in life and death: Bruce Goodison filmed his daughter's birth, and photography brought solace after she died in her cot

I was 23, a film and photography student in Newcastle and, having found something I really wanted to do, I didn't want anything to get in the way. I wasn't prepared for the responsibility, but Helen (not her real name) persuaded me that she was willing to bring up our child, with or without me. She was an excellent mother to the two boys she had from a previous relationship and, as we were so much in love, I was convinced that another baby would bring us all closer as a family.

Camilla was born on 13 June 1989, and I filmed the birth. We had desperately wanted a daughter, and when she arrived Helen kept saying, 'Bruce, it's a girl, it's a girl.' I was overjoyed, and I can remember thinking at the time, 'This is what life is for, to give life.' I felt complete.

Camilla was perfect. The doctor said that of all the children he had seen, she was the most healthy and responsive. We had no reason to believe that anything would go wrong.

It was a beautiful sunny day. I had gone into town to arrange a holiday and stopped to chat with a friend, who also had a baby, about our kids. I felt really content. On my return home, a policeman came rushing towards me. As I opened the door, I could see Helen in the back room, sobbing. The policeman said: 'Did you know your daughter had died?'

I went to Helen and clung to her. She kept apologising to me, sobbing: 'It's my fault.' She'd found Camilla dead in her cot a couple of hours before. Arlo, her four-year-old son, had witnessed the whole thing.

My reaction was to be practical; to comfort Helen, to make calls, and to arrange the funeral. I found it more helpful to look after everyone else than to look after myself.

I was reluctant to go to the Chapel of Rest where Camilla was lying, but I decided that I should take the children - they needed to understand. The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths advised me that it would help me to grieve if I took photos. All I could do was take pictures. I couldn't cry, not even when Asher and Arlo prodded Camilla and put their heads to her chest to check if she was still breathing.

I found the funeral devastating. It just looked so stupid, this little fluffy pink coffin disappearing behind the curtains. I knew that was the last thing, the last time I would ever see her, and I broke down. The most upsetting thing is that there are no ashes left from a new-born baby, because the bones are not properly formed. I had nothing, other than the pictures that I had taken.

The day after the funeral, I tried to remove Camilla's things from the house. The most difficult thing for me was to dismantle the cot, the place where she had died. At the time, I thought that it would be in Helen's interest to eradicate all memory of Camilla's existence. In retrospect, I was doing it for myself.

I felt robbed. I was bitter, frustrated and angry that there was absolutely no reason for my baby's death. I suffered a terrible sense of guilt and a feeling that this was some kind of retribution.

Two years after Camilla died, we had another baby. Lauren was born with Down's Syndrome. She is three now, and a lovely little girl, but I'm frightened to get too close. I know she could die prematurely. Maybe it's selfish, but I'm trying to protect myself.

Helen and I have since split up. We have been through so much together, but from the start we wanted different things from the relationship. She needed a family man, and I wanted a career.

I'm trying to restore Camilla as a person and a memory. When I think of her, I see her growing up. There are many things that trigger the memory, and I've stopped trying to suppress the feelings. I chose the music for the funeral, by Beethoven, and now and then, when I'm by myself, I listen to it. It reminds me of how I grieved for her then, and I can grieve once more.

Interview by Anna Welstand

Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, 071-235 0965, or 071-235 1721 (24-hour helpline)

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all