Co Down couple Dr Gary Mitchell and his wife Claire had no idea this time last year how their lives were about to be turned upside down within a matter of days.
They were on an emotional high after Claire's 16-week scan showed all was well with the second child she was expecting.
But just a couple of days later, their happiness was dashed when Claire's waters broke prematurely in the middle of the night.
What followed over the next three days was an emotionally distressing time when, despite still being able to hear their little boy's heartbeat, the couple were preparing for childbirth knowing that at just 17 weeks their son had no chance of survival.
Now as they prepare to mark the first anniversary of little Noah's loss on August 17, Gary and Claire have honoured the staff at the Ulster Hospital maternity unit for their exceptional care by nominating them for a national award.
Last Wednesday maternity nurses Fiona Rice and Hannah Whittaker were presented with Cavell Star medals, one of the highest accolades in nursing. Cavell Star is an inspiring national awards scheme for nurses, midwives, nursing associates and healthcare assistants who show exceptional care.
Grateful Claire and Gary say they can never fully express their gratitude to Fiona and Hannah for the care they provided during the toughest time of their lives.
Gary says: "It took a long time for us to write all the details down for the award nomination. Even then we had no idea just how grateful we would feel a year later and realised how much Fiona and Hannah had impacted our lives.
"The heartbreaking and gruelling process of delivering our son, Noah at 17 weeks was helped by the whole team's kindness and professionalism.
"In particular, Fiona and Hannah supported us through the entire journey - the worst experience of our lives. The pair provided us with sensitive and informative communication, all of it with a very human touch.
"On the day of Noah's birth we were treated with the utmost empathy and dignity and we cannot fully relay our gratitude. The impact of their care on our lives will never be forgotten."
The couple, who live in Killinchy, say their lives will never be the same again after losing Noah.
One of the most difficult things they had to do was explain to their five-year-old son Zach why he would not be getting a little brother.
Gary (35) is a nursing lecturer at Queen's University and Claire (34) works as a finance manager for Ulster Rugby.
They bravely share their story of what was an extremely personal and distressing time in the hope of once again shining a light on the two nursing staff that did so much to support them.
Recalling just how quickly their world was turned upside down, Claire says: "It was a planned pregnancy and everything was going really well and I had just had my 16-week scan and everything was fine and I was able to hear the baby's heartbeat.
"Then a few days after the scan, my waters broke in the middle of the night and I had terrible cramps. We knew it would be bad news as we made our way to the Ulster Hospital, where I was immediately admitted to the Neely Ward."
Gary picks up the story: "I think we were in a daze and didn't even register what staff was on duty that night.
"There is no text book for this so we weren't prepared for what was to come. They told us that even though we could still hear the baby's heart beat that he wouldn't survive and that there was nothing they could do."
The couple spent three days in the hospital knowing that Claire was going to go through labour and give birth to their son who may or may not show signs of life at that stage. The brutal reality was that any life would soon be lost as at just 17 weeks he was too young to survive.
For Gary the fact that it was going to be a normal delivery was a difficult prospect, as he explains: "I do think that it is worth raising awareness of it as I had no idea that Claire was going to have to go through a normal delivery.
"I did struggle with it a bit. I suppose as a lay person you think the baby would pass naturally or it would happen at home as medically it is termed a miscarriage, but for us to go into hospital for an actual delivery was very distressing. "
Previously unthinkable decisions had to be made in the three days the couple had to prepare for the very premature birth.
These included whether or not they should see and hold their son after he was born and making plans for his funeral.
Claire recalls how the staff helped them to make the right decisions: "From the moment I arrived at the hospital, I got a really warm hug from the nurses. All the staff, even the new ones coming in on shifts who were meeting me under such horrible circumstances, all offered great comfort.
"So much of it was outside our control and when they asked about whether or not I wanted to hold my baby after birth I was resolute that I did not want to see him.
"I was scared of what he would look like and was worried that the image would be with us forever.
"Hannah and Fiona were really exceptional and gentle with us and supportive in giving us information.
"They advised us to really think carefully about holding him and they made us realise that perhaps it wasn't such a bad idea.
"In the end we did decide to hold him and spent a little bit of time with him and that was an important part of helping us to make sense of what was happening and to heal. He had his little finger nails and a little nose and mouth."
Gary adds: "Hannah and Fiona were there at the birth and they gave us privacy and treated us with real dignity and compassion and very were sensitive and supportive.
"Hannah stayed with us after the birth while Fiona prepared the baby and presented him to us and then gave us time to be alone. They really couldn't have done more for us."
Claire will be forever grateful to the two nurses for their sensitivity in guiding her and Gary and helping them to make difficult choices.
Even after the trauma of the birth the couple still had distressing decisions to make.
Claire says: "There were a lot of forms to be filled. You don't register the birth but you register the death.
"We decided we would have Noah cremated and the nursing staff took care of all that.
"We later scattered his ashes at Slieve Donard which was really nice.
"These were decisions that had to be made and the nursing staff helped us to take our time to make them. With hindsight we got the support to make all the right decisions."
As a father who could only stand by helplessly while his wife went through labour and childbirth, Gary was very moved by just how much his feelings were taken into consideration by staff in the ward.
He says: "As a man going through it, my wife was the central focus and rightly so as that is the way it should be and she was at the centre of the care, but I wasn't forgotten about. The nurses and the healthcare assistants looked after me and I got hugs too and they were very caring in their approach."
The staff even organised a little memory box for the couple to take home with them.
In it was a replica of the same teddy they had placed with Noah when he was cremated and some other precious items to remember him by.
For Gary and Claire, who were leaving the hospital with empty arms, it meant the world to them.
Even when they went home the caring continued and Claire benefited from several months of counselling from a bereavement midwife.
They also received valuable reassurance for the future as Gary explains: "They did tell us that when the time comes to think about another baby that we shouldn't be put off by the experience.
"They even invited us to come back to the ward where they will be there to support us through another pregnancy and it really helps to know that.
"I have nursing students who do work experience on that ward and I never realised just how exceptional the staff there are."
That the care was above and beyond all expectations is evident in the difference it has made to how Claire and Gary coped with a devastating time.
Nearly one year on they are delighted to be able to see the staff publicly recognised for the outstanding care they provide.
Claire adds: "I can't imagine what it would be like if that was my job and I was having to see such a distressing situation on a regular basis and then I had to try to support people through it. These nurses do it with such resilience and compassion.
"Shock is the biggest emotion at the time. It was devastating for us and nothing in the world could ever have prepared us for those few days, it completely changed our lives and turned everything upside down.
"Zach was starting P1 the week after and we had to put a brave face on it. Life goes on but it will never be the same. Noah's wee anniversary is coming up and we will do something private as a family to mark it.
"We're delighted that the nurses got the recognition they deserved as they are exceptional and we will never forget them."