The ad caught my eye. I was flicking through a Copy of Time Out when I saw it ‘I Didn’t Think it Would Happen to Me!’. An acclaimed journalist was looking for volunteers to share their stories for a radio programme. Without thinking I began tapping away and soon my story was told. It was the first time I had ever written it down, and at seven months since our little one had died, the timing felt ‘right’. Written below is what I wrote that night.
I never thought the following set of circumstances would ever apply to me, but they did and have changed my life forever. My story is not about someone I knew a lifetime or indeed a very long time, just eight months infact. It’s a story of grief and losing because I never really got to know my little boy. It’s grieving for what might have been and the wonderful life our little son was robbed of.
Deciding to try for a baby was easy. I always thought that it would be this huge life changing decision, but here I was approaching my 29th birthday, madly in love with my fiance and ready to be a mum. I fell pregnant almost immediately, 2 weeks to be precise. It was December 19th and our baby was due on August 26th 2001.
I was so excited, a bit over the top in fact. I waffled on about sleepless nights, I was looking forward to them, a perfect time to bond with baby. No more party nights, who cares? I’d been lucky enough to party all over the world with my job as a long haul air stewardess. I was ready. At 20 weeks I was so excited I simply had to find out our baby’s sex, I simply could not wait for another 20 weeks. It’s a boy! I wept. I favoured no particular sex, just as long as my baby was healthy. Ironic isn’t it? I stared at the screen in disbelief, our beautiful little boy. He was being so cheeky, kicking his little legs and covering his tiny face every time we wanted to see his profile. “Hello Micky” I said. “I guess that’s his name then, laughed my fiance Ernie. Micky is my Dad’s name it’s also my late Grandads. I wanted him to be intelligent and charismatic like my Dad and cheeky and mischevious like grandad!
We talked about saving up for Disney World (I had images of this lovable little boy heckling Mickey Mouse and introducing himself as ‘Micky’) and what school he would go to. A season ticket for Arsenal, a Computer for his 10th birthday. I started collecting coppers for Micky’s “Round the World Trip”. I wanted him to go back-packing when he was 18, and see the world, although in truth I probaby would have clung to him and begged him not to go! And of course a lifetime of love and cuddles.
I kept myself in good health too, did all the right things, read all the right books. It wasn’t the easiest of pregnancies, I had lots of vomiting and backache and swelling, but so what? It’s only for 9 months after all. When I was 34 weeks I had a scan to check the placental site, yet again the midwife commented on Micky’s size and questioned my dates but the main thing was that the scan showed all was well. But a few days later I spent the night in the bath in immense pain. The following day I was admitted to the Labour Ward and shown my contractions on the monitor. It looked like Micky was coming today and because of his size he would be okay. Yippee!!! However, when the consultant arrived I was sent home as I had failed to dilate. Micky’s movements became less powerful and slightly reduced; but still I didn’t dilate, had no ‘show’ and my waters did not break.
On Wednesday 25th July at 35 1/2 weeks I woke up feeling rather strange. I’d left work the Thursday before after working in the airlines recruitment department and spent the last week painting a magical forest in his room. Once upon a time Micky had always been very active, a real little kicker. Today he was quiet. I telephoned my friend Tash, her little boy Joshua was 7 weeks old and we were going on his first picnic. The sun was shining, but Tash agreed that we should pop into hospital first, just to hear his heartbeat.
We arrived at the hospital at 1.45pm and I was taken to the Fetal Assessment Unit, reassured and told to relax. But there was no heartbeat. I was scanned, then scanned again; then finally at 2.20pm our darling son was pronounced dead. I cannot begin to tell you what happened at that moment. I screamed for Earnie, shook my tummy “Wake up Micky, please wake up”, I begged them to cut me open, take him out and resuscitate, but it was too late. I was lead into a room where everything became a blur. Tash crying, my step-mum Jackie arriving, then Dad followed by Ernie, his sister Janet, and finally Mum. Did we want a postmortem? “Yes! No, you can’t touch him” Did we want to go home and come back tomorrow? “No we’re staying” That night in a delivery room in busy Mayday Hospital, Croydon I was induced.
Ernie refused to leave my sidem the midwifes came in and out. Some cried, some prayed. How hard for them, to go from a room so full ofsadness and despair to a room elsewhere full of happiness and joy. I tried to stay focused, but simply could not stop crying. I wasn’t crying for Ernie and I though, I was crying for Micky.
Jackie fetched my suitcase loyally left in my hallway. It was still packed exactly how I’d packed it weeks before. Winnie The Pooh shawl, Tigger babygro, stripey blue and white doggy socks, nappies etc. etc. etc! Inside was the list of people to call and finally my birth plan. Colourful and laminated. At the bottom of it I had written “No matter what pain I may go through and no matter how much I think I can’t go on, I should always remember that this is all for Micky. I am finally going to meet my dreams, this is what we’ve longed for”. I decided to stick to my birth plan, after all my son deserved the best.
Finally, 34 hours later at 9am on Friday 27th July our wonderful son was born. 7lbs 2oz and 52cm long. Perfect. Perfect in every way except his heart no longer beat. We kept him beside us all day. He then went to the morgue where they laid him in a Moses basket and then finally to the chapel of rest.
We spent every day with him, 8 days. Rocking him, kissing him, cuddling him, smelling him. We told him all the wonderful things that we had planned for him. How we wished him to be brave, strong and happy. All his family and friends came to visit and almost 100 people attended his funeral on August 3rd. We told people to wear bright summery clothes and if they wanted to, then children were welcome; lots came. We played 3 CDs in the chapel but Robbie Williams, ‘Eternity’ was the most poignant. I bought the CD for him when he was still alive and placed it inside his baby book, I didn’t think I would ever play it at his funeral.
Afterwards we toasted Micky with champagne. After the funeral I spent hours designing and making his memory cards. I placed a photo of him on them and surrounded it by angels. Along with a poem, his tiny statistics and words of thank you. I placed a few words of Shakespeare surrounded by sparkling navy blue stars. “If he should die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night” Romeo and Juliet. His Godmother then named a star after him.
Now 7 months on and the doctors are still at a loss as to what happened. They simply do not know. I used to go to his grave every day, now I go 3 times a week. Soon it will be once. His tiny grave is covered in about 50 tiny toys, lanterns, windmills windchimes, and teddies. I told you I was OTT!
What’s the worst thing that people have said to me? It’s telling me that it wasn’t meant to be. My son was meant to be! He had tiny milk spots on his nose, I put name hand into his beautiful mouth and felt where his teeth would have once grown. Don’t ever tell me not to worry, that I’ll have another one, one day. I know this, but if your spouse died tomorrow, would you expect me to reassure you with the words “You’ll have another one next year”. No never!
I’ve just started back at work now and my life is completely different. For the first time, Ernie and I have discussed more children, but not before his 1st birthday. The first year is all about Micky. I still think about him every day, I know I always will. I wear his picture in a locket around my neck, it says “To Mummy, love Micky xxx”. I have his name tattooed on the base of my spine, a little star saying “Micky, My Angel”.
I feel utterly blessed to have had this littel man in my life. His future brothers or sisters will always know about their older brother who plays in heaven, it will be part of their upbringing. My family, friends, my work and the community of Penge, South-East London have been so terrific in helping to keep his memory alive. They always have time to talk about him. We have come such a long way in such a short time. I know that this journey has only just begun. You never get over the death of a child, you simply learn to live with it.
On Mothers Day Ernie (who is now my husband)! sent me a bouquet of flowers, it said “To Mummy, on Mothers Day think of me and smile, love Micky xxx” It did make me smile and through all our future tears I’ll always try to smile.
Zoe, the journalist got back to me and is going to use our story for her radio programme. She told me that since she read it she has thought of Micky every day.
Thank you taking the time to read this, I changed some bits because there were so many references to Sands which our members are well aware of!