WHEN Ashley Cain’s daughter Azaylia passed away in his arms from a rare form of cancer, he vowed to carry her in his heart forever.
Now, two years after losing her battle for life at just eight months old, the reality star has revealed he’s about to become a dad again – and his little girl in heaven is the first to know.
Ashley Cain has another child Credits: David Cummings
Ashley’s first daughter Azaylia passed away two years ago from a rare form of cancerCredit: miss_safiyya_/Instagram
In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, the former footballer, 33, broke down in tears as he spoke about visiting his daughter’s grave to tell her she was about to become a big sister.
Ashley said: “The first thing I did was go to Azaylia’s resting place to talk to her about it.
“I believe that was a big part of what allowed me to feel positive about it. I feel like she was the main person I needed to talk to and get this thing off my chest.
“After I went to her resting place and talked to her about it, I just had a feeling in my heart and in my soul that she was happy for me.
“She was happy to have a little brother and now he’s just someone to look after and protect in this world.”
Ashley was preparing for the Yukon 1000 — the world’s toughest endurance race from Canada, across the Arctic Circle to Alaska — when he received a text in July from a friend he was dating at the time.
“I got a call from a girl I’ve been seeing and known since I was 18,” he said. “We are friends and have met occasionally over the years.
‘Every child is a blessing’
“She’s a really nice person and nice to be around. I got a message saying she needed to talk to me so I went to her and she told me she was pregnant — I can’t describe the feeling in words.
“The thought of potentially having another child after losing one was very hard for me to understand.
“Yukon gave me a lot of time and solitude to think and made me realize that even though this next part of my journey will be difficult, I have truly realized that every child that comes into this world is a blessing.”
Ashley said it was important for him to find out the gender of their baby before the due date next month.
Entering the clinic, he said: “It was a nerve-racking time.
“I was walking into the unknown, but I haven’t been in such an environment since I lost Azaylia. It was hard, but it was nice, and at that moment I thought, ‘I’m ready to do it’.”
He said of finding out the gender: “In the back of my head, I didn’t know how to deal with it if it was a girl.
“It could have been good, but it could have been heartbreaking again and I wasn’t sure.
“The truth is, if it had been a girl, she would still be a blessing, and I would still be happy and the best dad — it would just be a little more pain to navigate.
“Now that means I have a girl and a boy, which is perfect for me.
Ashley had Azaylia with his ex-partner Safiyya VorajeeCredit: instagram
“Azaylia would love a little brother and now is my chance to do what I was meant to do on this Earth.”
But Ashley’s strength was tested again when the couple discovered their baby had a potential heart defect at their 20-week check-up.
He said: “They couldn’t find a connection between one of the valves and the heart so it was another very difficult time for me.
“I’ve already been through a really tough time with Azaylia. I had already lost a child and I was worried and scared that it might happen again.”
He continued: “He needs to go for a scan as soon as he’s born to be sure and double check.
“I’m praying, believing in the positives and putting myself in the right mindset to be there for her and my son.”
In 2020, Ashley and aesthetic practitioner Safiyya Vorajee, 35, were devastated when their baby girl, Azaylia Diamond Cain, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at eight weeks.
She had tumors on her lungs, stomach and kidneys and received several rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Ashley and Safiyya decided to share every step of their journey, including the days leading up to Azaylia’s death.
She passed away peacefully in her parents’ arms at their home in Nuneaton, Warks, in April 2021.
After supporting each other through their darkest moments, Ashley and Safiyya announced their separation last year
Despite this, they have dedicated their lives to the Azaylia Foundation — fighting the shortage of doctors and treatments specializing in childhood cancer, while also supporting families in need of treatment abroad.
Given their close relationship, Ashley said it was important to sit down with Safiyya and tell her about the pregnancy.
He said: “It was painful for Safia, but it was also painful for me to talk to her.
“Hero in the Sky”
“We haven’t been together for a while and it’s inevitable that at some stage people will move on with their lives — that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends and have an amazing relationship.
“I know that Safiyya will always support me and I will always be there to support Safiyya. It was not an easy conversation nor filled with smiles, but it was a conversation in which there was a lot of truth and respect.”
However, Ashley said he can’t help but feel “guilty” at the prospect of holding his newborn son next month while his little girl is no longer with him.
“When I think about becoming a dad again and bringing my son into this world, obviously I feel guilty because I wish and pray that Azaylia can be here as well,” he said.
“I know Azaylia would be the most amazing big sister in the world because she is a fighter – strong and brave.”
Fighting back tears, he added: “It’s hard. Life is hard and every day is hard for me. As soon as he’s old enough, I want to take him to Azaylia’s resting place.
“I want him to know who his big sister is and I want him to understand what she has done for this world.”
Ashley said he plans to be a hands-on father to his son even though he’s not in a relationship with his mom.
He said: “I want to be a hero to my son because of the hero I have in heaven. I look up to her every day when my eyes open and I want my son to look up to me as well.
“I know this will be difficult and difficult, but it will also be gloriously beautiful.
“I’m really, really excited and happy and can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.”
Ashley sheds tears at Azaylia’s funeral in 2021 Credit: Rex
The reality star also reveals that he bought 365 white roses to place on Azayla’s grave a year after her deathCredit: Instagram