Brown: Another trauma after loss of his first baby

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Indy Politics

Despite the sober public image which earned him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor", Gordon Brown made no secret of his joy earlier this year when his second son James Fraser was born.

Now, despite the news that the baby has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the Chancellor and his wife Sarah are said to be optimistic and enjoying life.

The couple were devastated in 2002 when their first child, Jennifer Jane, died just 10 days old after being born seven weeks premature, at just 2lbs 4oz. The Chancellor, who keeps his private life out of the public gaze more than most politicians, initially chose not to give voice to his grief from the tragedy while continuing to occupy one of the high offices of state.

But in a television interview in September, Mr Brown told how his baby daughter had died while being held by him and his wife, Sarah, at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary. He said: "She looked beautiful and you know, she, she died in our arms. There is nothing worse than a precious baby taken from you. And you never come to terms with it. You always know there is something missing."

The couple were overjoyed with the birth in October 2003 of their first son John at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The 8lb 1oz infant born by caesarean section was named after the Chancellor's own father the Rev John Brown.

Describing becoming a father as "what matters most", Mr Brown contrasted the couple's joy with their grief over losing Jennifer Jane. "Although the sadness remains, there is joy, and there is joy in the morning, and we've seen that in the last day," he said after the birth.

The birth of James seemed to further ease the pain of Jennifer Jane's brief life. The couple set up a charity in her memory with the aim of raising £600,000 to research the cause of premature births.

Mrs Brown said: "We set up the fund in the hope of moving forward and helping others who face this issue. My hope is that in the long term the fundraising will help scientists to understand pregnancy difficulties and complications that affect newborns."

Her husband reiterated their motivation. He said recently: "You try to do things that make life better so it's had a purpose, that something good can come out of this tragedy."

The Chancellor later described becoming a father again as "the best thing that ever happened to me".

He added: "I said when John was born I thought we were the happiest family in Britain. We're larger and happier and I believe we are a very grateful family."

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