Grief stricken but determined to not let this be my only ever emotion to feel. I yearned for a child of my own since the passing of Louis and Corey, I craved a family with my soul mate I wanted to give him the children he derserved and almost as soon as one week after their passing I found myself wanting to talk the option of trying again with Rob. He was horrified to begin with, he thought it was grief speaking and asked me to give it time… time PAH!!! “Time waits for no man or woman” I say nonchalantly.
I got my way and amazingly by Christmas Eve 2005 I was pregnant with our daughter Lilly-Ella, she was born almost a year to the day after the passing of Corey; on the 8th September 2006 she came into the world SCREAMING and weighing a healthy 8lb 6oz. I loved motherhood, I believe I had found my path in life, I was destined to be a mother. Time passed and our happy family of three grew to four with the arrival of Toby on the 16th March 2008 weighing an oober 9lb 7oz, a difficult pregnancy and a difficult birth which did deter me for a while.
One morning Rob suggested having a vasectomy and to my horror and almost like an instant reflex I yelled out “but I want another baby”, he didn’t take much convincing. I always took for granted how quickly I had managed to fall pregnant previously, thinking there must be something wrong for sure… I had always been so lucky and so fortunate to be able to fall pregnant by simply just ‘passing on the stairs’ … just like that and WAM BAM THANK YOU MAM, we scored gold everytime. I am guilty of taking this gift for granted and I know how terribly difficult the time of trying to concieve can be for some people. I thought to myself month after month… ‘Why is this not happening’ so I went to the chemist to buy some ovualtion tests, they needed to be ordered and so I downloaded an iPhone app… I know your all chuckling whilst reading this and thinking WTF can an iPhone App do…. but I had a craving that needed feeding and that desire for a baby took president!
I fell pregnant before I could get to the chemist to pick up the ovulation test, they quite possibly could still be sat behind the counter with my name on. Fate had other ideas and we endured the painful loss of miscarriage. As painful as this was, many tears were cried and I still mourned for the baby I lost but I strangely was equally thankful that I lost this baby now rather than progress on further to have another baby born to hold and then to be stolen from my grasp, a baby to nurture inside of me with the bonding growing stronger and stronger everyday. Was I saved from more angst? Or was I dealt more?
Undeterred we continued to try again and Isla was born on 7th May 2011 weighing 8lb 12ozs, amazing how we find the strength through such sadness to continue to try and try again to have a baby to hold. Our family complete, my husband talking Vasectomy’s again we were busy planning a bright future with our little family and although I had made it quite clear that I would be happy to try and even out the numbers with ‘just one more attempt for a child’ Rob remained unconvinced and we never really spoke about it again until WAM BAM THANK YOU MAM…. Yep you got it, we were pregnant! And we were OVERJOYED!
My pregnancy progressed well, nervous because after such a loss anxiety is to be expected and nerves are always at the forefront but I always felt like something was going to go wrong, was it ‘gut feeling’ a personal, intuitive feeling that you can’t explain or was it ‘motherly instinct’ the maternal bond between mother and child that intuitively lets you know when somethings not right!
My little lads positioning had had me worried of some time and kept asking to be refferred to the consultant and on the Friday 30th November, I was reffered and I visited the consultant called Sebastian he was taking some of my normal consultants patients to ease the waitiing time in clinic that day, he was a very ‘matter of fact’ consultant and lacked ‘bedside manner’ and he didnt have the warming demeanour I wanted, I needed some compassion, someone to take me seriously. Needless to say I had instantly been put off the name Sebastian for my son, it was on my top 5 and had not made the cut to the top 3! I was scanned and all was well, baby Harris was in the right position and heart was beating well!
Monday 3rd December I had an antenatel appointment to visit the midwife following the visit to clinic on the Friday before, I was greeted by a Midwife called ‘Aneka’ not my usual midwife, I really gelled with my regular midwife so seeing an unfamiliar face just made me nervous about asking any questions, which for anyone who knows me would think, “really!!!!” I am not backwards in coming forwards and generally wear my heart on my sleeve, I stand my ground and like to voice my opinions, wanted or unwanted… often to my detriment!!! But a sudden overwhelming silence filled the room and she went through her general checks of blood pressure, urine sample etc… then came the time that always unerved me, time to lay on the couch reveal my swollen tummy and let the midwife search around for a heartbeat – he was always hard to find and on this day particulary hard to find and I remember when they finally located his little ‘horse trotting’ heartbeat I even said “does that sound odd, to you?” but no, apparently all was fine and within the realms of what is ‘normal’!! I hate that word ‘normal’, conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected level or noramlity, I mean who sets the perimeters for what is deemed as ‘normal’.
So off I went and continued with my everyday life, my life with 3 beautiful children and a darkness of grief behind my eyes, 7 years on and I know its there but other people get on with their lives, talk to me, greet me, and befriend me, unbeknown of that pain and sadness that dwells deep in my soul.
It was a stressful Tuesday, school runs, playgroups, shopping to lumber around, afterschool ballet for my eldest daughter and I was already exhausted. That evening bedtime prooved even more stressful, it was crying in stereo, Lilly-Ella stomping and crying that she wasnt aloud her pudding because she didn’t eat her dinner, Toby throwing a wobbler because he had lost his ‘Darth Vadar’ glove and his toy Fireman Sam’s head had popped off and was in the toilet, Isla was just irritable and grouchy it was that time of evening that tested even the most patient of mothers to the absolute limit. They were finally all asleep and the all the noise and chaos had left a ringing in my ears, I decided an early night was in order so as soon as Rob came home from work that was my very intention, every night I tuck in and I kiss my children while they are sleeping, stroke their heads while I whisper in their ears how much I love them and that I always will, an act of love I will carry out until they are awake longer than I am in an evening and even then I will still try..
I hadnt been in bed long before Isla came trotting in to our room ‘HAYYYYYYYAAAAAAAA’ she squalks and I look through bleary eyes at the time; 01.20am, baby Harris was performing somersaults inside me so I walked Isla back to her bed where I krept in next to her and tried to get comfortable and at 38 weeks pregnant its an impossible task, never the less I edged my way on to the lower bunk with my precious little Isley Woo and waited for her to drift back off to sleep. My baby bump was rather active and I remember Elliot kicking Isla in the back while we all layed together. I smiled to myself and took myself back to my bed.
The alarm went off in the morning, I nudged Rob for work as he had already pressed snooze 3 times and was running late himself. I felt weary and ‘achey’, more than usual, I felt strange and so did my bump, I didnt know how to explain it but something didnt feel right, I put the negative thoughts to the back of my head and continued to busy my children into getting ready for school. After the school run I was still aware that I hadn’t noticed my little baby boy move, this was most unusual, eerily so. I remember back to the twins and a midwife saying ‘count the kicks’ sit down have an ice lolly or chilly drink and sit and relax for a bit, the coldness from the drink or icy treat encourages baby to move. I did this and had myself a fizzy drink in a glass filled with ice right up to the brim. Still nothing. I knew my Elliot had died somewhere between 1.20am and 6.30am that morning of the 5th December 2012.
I walked around my house back and forth, back and forth for hours, crying and sobbing not knowing what to do, rubbing and carressing my tummy, praying for something… anything, but all that was there was a heavy lifeless bump. I cried for ages not wanting to ring Rob because then its real, then I have to act on it. I was only prolonging the agony of going to the hospital, I could’t bear it, the emotions I kept shut in a little corner of my mind, the emotions I couldnt bare face again and after 7 years it was like being back there in the hospital, back and reliving the pain from past, the loss of Louis and Corey came crashing down on me and the enormity of the grief was engulfing me like a tsunami wave. Rob drove me to the hospital and we had agreed I would go in and call him with an update, he was to look after the children and treat them to Pizza or something nice.
I was seen almost immediatley and I was taken to a room on delivery suite and scanned with the portable scanning machine, all that was there was the outline of my baby and then nothing, he was lifeless and the only shred of hope I had left disintagrated to nothing. I had to tell Rob, but how? He was out with the children enjoying pizza and I am about to bring his world tumbling down into turmoil, and my children, my poor children so exited about having a baby brother. The doctors made their way to the room I had been moved to and there they began to tell me the proceedure that now takes place after a baby has been pronounced dead. Option 1, I can go home and wait for labour to start naturally, Option 2, they can give me a hormone drip that will start contractions so as to enduce the labour process. I was in sheer panic, ranting expletives and saying over and over “no, no, no” , rocking backwards and forwards on my bed with my head in my hands sobbing uncontrollably. They couldnt expect me to have a natural birth surely? I wont do it, I wanted ceaserean section, I begged with the consultant to honour me this wish, pleaded with him to give me a ceaserean section I just could not imagine anything worse at that time than to go through natural labour and having to give birth to our dead baby boy.
I was in such an emotional state they wouldnt except my pleadings and made me wait for Rob to arrive so they could talk through things again, I knew he would support my choice because he had fears and anxieties of his own about a natural birth and that was when everything was going to be alright but now things have changed and our baby boy has died. He most certainly would not want for me to have to do this naturally. So I waited and when he arrived he entered the room with that same glazed eyed look from 7 years before. He embraced me and we cried together, no words were required and no words were exchanged, we knew what each of us were thinking.
Docters returned and we stood by our decision a ceaserean was the only choice for us, the anxiety and stress from Louis and Corey was vividly real and there was no way I would be able to hold myself together to give birth naturally. It was late and Rob needed to get back to the children so my consultant was to return in the morning and we will assess things after a nights sleep… I was furious, I was now expected to sleep, here on delivery suite, my baby dead inside me.
When Rob left I really did try to go to sleep, I was about to text him to say goodnight but as I picked up my phone my battery died, ‘fucking typical’ was what I thought, so I pulled my contact lenses out of my red sore eyes, kicked off my boots and tried to get warm under a couple of sheets the midwife had gave me, I was still in the clothes I arrived in and was obviously not prepared for this stay at all. Suddenly pain erupted in my lower back and continued to come back in waves every 7-8 minutes, “Holy Crap” I was actually going into labour all by myself, I refused to acknowledge this and I huddled down further in to the bed sheets, trying to ignore this pain coming and going and coming back again fiercer and fiercer. I must of drifted off at some point through sheer exhaustion because the next thing I remember was waking up with a start, screaming, and literally jumping from my bed as my waters had broke, and with the waters there was blood, lots of it. I was terrified, I didnt want it this way, I wanted to be put to sleep and woke up when it was all over…
I scuttled over to the nurse call and pressed the button over and over still shouting and screaming like a banshee, I was beside myself, I almost felt like I was having an outer body experience because as a person I generally rationalise everything out, but I felt so completely out of control and like I was looking at someone else having this attack of anxiety, the woman in the corner of the room looked like me because it was me, pulling at her hair, and smacking at her swollen pregnant tummy, this wasnt a person I recognised, why would I? I am genrerally in control and this was something I most certainly was not in control of, I was scared, totally panicked, and still in complete and utter shock. The nurse came in and she looked at me in disbelief also, attempted to hold me, to cuddle me, to console me in my moments of madness and I backed away still bashing at myself and the wall, she finally managed to calm me down and offered me some sleeping tablets, I eventually took them and although I didnt sleep it brought me back down from my ‘perch of madness’.
When Rob returned in the morning he was horrified that I hadnt called him, but at the time, during those moments it didn’t matter that my battery on my phone had died, I didnt want him there to see me like that, I didnt want to cause him any more pain, and at the end of the day what could he do, nothing but watch and for my beloved husband that has to be so painful to watch the person you love and care for in such emotional agony because everytime I looked into his eyes thats what I saw, agony.
I had been examined and the pains were still coming in waves but hadn’t really excelerated, I was 2-3cms dialated and my consultant had managed to convince us that the natural route was by far a safer way of delivery for me and given the facts that I had already started labour naturally without intervention that it seemed like the logical option and he promised me he would remain with us until the end. An epidural was administered and the epidural failed to work. I was then given another drug that I administered myself by pressing a little button and this took me into my own little world in between contractions.
Rob was amazing but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to maintain a stoic state, and as my husband and my support thats what HE thought he needed to be so he called a close family friend to come and help us though this difficlut time. I was quite spaced out to say the least and had accepted every drug they offered me to help my mind to ‘numb’ to prevent ‘thinking’ and just to help me get through this harrowing experience. Rob was holding things together impeccably and he remained my support up to the point of delivery and then he stood just outside the room until our little boy was delivered at 17.13pm on the 6th December 2012 weighing 8lb 3oz.
Men are overlooked at times like this and I hold no grudges that on that day Rob made the decision to take one step back, I was not alone, I had our friend and its just as important for the father/partner/husband to also make decisions that are best for them also, because this is a situation where there are no “wrongs” or “right” ways to deal with this, there is no “normal” or “abnormal” behaviour you have to do what you have to do to get through it and whatever that is, that is your right!
Elliot was absolutely perfect in everyway, everyway apart from his heart wasnt beating. I held him, kissed him, and prayed for a miracle. Rob stayed with us that night and we took it in turns to cuddle our little boy. We will never get the opportunity to tell him all the things mummy’s and daddy’s say to their children, we will never get the chance to tickle him and hear the infectious laughter and we will never get the opportunity to wipe away his tears. These were the only memories we were ever going to have.
You always kiss your children with hope that it will cure everything, the magic of a kiss cures all, as my hot tears stained my babies cold cheeks, I prayed for a miracle to happen. Instead our baby lay in my arms, motionless, cold and eyes tightly shut, never to open and see light of day, and I knew then that this would be my only lasting memory of holding him close. I spent hours looking at him, drifting in and out of sleep and then I would wake up with a jump and for a split second I would look at over and think everything was alright but as quickly as that thought entered my mind it was replaced with the hurt and pain and the reality of the nightmare we were living all over again, the reality that he had gone there is nothing that can prepare you for that and I can never explain in words how painful that reality is….
Elliot was laid to rest next to his brothers Louis and Corey on 28th December 2012 and the service was beautiful and somehow I found the strength to carry my little Elliot’s coffin to the graveside and for that extra strength that appeared from somewhere, I will be eternally grateful. I am determined that they ‘my will not become a statistic and in their memory I will continue to raise money to help others in any way I can, money that will be shared between inportant research and essential equipment an items for bereaved parents.