Memories And Thoughts

Submitted by David Cairns 2nd Sept 2014

Two random songs popped up on my iPod this morning – playing consecutively and forcing me to consider the random shuffle and to join the
 dots. The Jam with 'A Town Called Malice' (written about Woking) followed immediately by 'Godspeed', version by the Dixie Chicks – which
 inspired my tattoo in memory of our son George. Paul Weller of The Jam – is a bit of a hero of mine. Rewind to 1995 – A Levels done and
 on a year out, I took a job at W.H Smiths in Woking. Every day in the stock room from 7.30am – picking the stock, doing the Newspapers
 and generally trying to be a useful pair of hands – away from the shop floor. A good year, and coinciding with the release of the iconic
‘Stanley Road’, the solo album by Paul Weller – (the 46th greatest album of all time according to Q Magazine). Stanley Road itself was a
short road in the centre of Woking, running up to the railway and Maybury Road. The road name sign, which was covered in fan graffiti and
Paul Weller stickers, could be found at the junction of a pretty non-descript mini roundabout and located amongst some corporate offices and
 car parks. So, I spent 1995 a couple of streets away from Stanley Road and singing along to ‘Broken Stones’ and ‘You do Something to Me’
– like everyone else. So, from this time onward, I developed a bit of affection for Woking; my then girlfriend (now wife) Stephanie knew the
 town well as her father owned Trumps Dry Cleaners in the town centre, (that premises is now a Wetherspoons). Many of her family lived
and worked in Woking – so it was a friendly place for me, as a 19 year on his year out. I made friends and relationships in that year that
survive to this day – not least amongst Steph’s extended family. So – fast forward a little, we navigate University, buying our first house, day
 jobs – and find ourselves married, living in Camberley – visiting Woking less often now but still loving all things Weller and his now rarer
appearances on TV and in the charts – usually to be found on ‘Later with Jools Holland’. We start a family – and the beautiful Lois is born –
 what a good kid, what an easy time – let’s do it again – getting pregnant is easy, pregnancy is easy – wow, a little boy…..wait…..BOOM –
our lives are shattered as our little unborn boy, George is ‘incompatible with life’. He is too ill to be born. Heartbroken but lucid – we want to
 be merciful to him and he dies peacefully, before Steph delivers him at Frimley Park. George changes us, he inspires us and we cherish
him. We appreciate wonderful people and worthy causes. We gratefully take the support, we receive the hugs and the care. When we
strengthen – we fundraise. February 2012 – we hold a Valentines Black Tie Ball – in aid of The British Heart Foundation, to raise money in
 George’s memory. We hold the event just outside of Woking at the Bisley Pavilion. Unbeknownst to us, one of the waiting staff for the dinner
 is Paul Weller’s mum. White blouse, black skirt – all dressed identically - anonymous to the guests – a smart and proud grey haired lady in
her seventies. But she is the person who Paul Weller calls ‘Mum’ – who delivered a giant of music, who nurtured a unique offspring who is
now the Godfather – the Modfather of British Music. On the night, someone tells me who she is – I am thrilled but I’m shy to say Hello – of
course she makes it easy. She makes a discrete but generous donation to our event, noting our loss and encouraging our efforts. It IS a
small world, it is also a kind, strange, and circular world. The Town called Malice was anything but malicious to us.

Jessica's story

posted 17 Mar 2014, 14:33 by Laura Kirk   [ updated 17 Mar 2014, 14:36 ]

In April 2011 me and my ex partner Joe found out we were expecting,
I took a pregnancy test, and it took what felt like forever for that little line to turn up, but when it did, it was a beautiful line.
We started planning for her arrival, and had to attend a lot of consultant appointments as it was a high risk pregnancy.
Every time we saw the little baby on the screen bounce and wriggle about at scans, we fell more in love.
At our 20 week scan, we got told it was a little girl, and then our love grew even more, we started telling people, and they started sending dresses, and cute little girlie outfits.
When we reached 27 weeks, I went into premature labour, so I got admitted into Newcross hospital in Wolverhampton, and I was in for a week, I got given steroid injections, and was under close observation. And sure enough the labour stopped which we were thankful for.
Then at 33 weeks, I woke up after being in bed ill for the past week, with stomach pains. I went into the toilet to find creamy blood, I figured it was my mucus plus, because along with the pains and this, It did feel like labour.
I then got on the phone to my birthing partner Beth Simspson, she came straight round, and she agreed, it sounded like labour. So we got excited. I knew the hospital could do nothing except keep me under observation. There was nothing to stop the labour, nor make Jessica's lungs stronger, as I'd had all that previously.
So Joe was running around packing things flapping, and me and Beth were sat down, talking. I was adamant I had to do the labour as natural as possible.
As the contractions got closer together, we were getting more excited. then as they were 5 minutes apart. I went upstairs to get changed.
What I then found shocked me as all this blood poured out as I sat on the toilet. I knew instantly something was wrong so we rushed off to the hospital.
By this time the pains were 3 minutes apart and I was in a lot of pain by now.
The porter took 12 minutes to get a wheelchair. as I was in the car freaking out.
I got taken into the delivery suite. and that's when my life changed forever.
There was all these doctors and nurses around me, strapping me to machinery, trying to find her heartbeat. but they struggled. she kept moving as I had the pains. then I saw the nurse shake her head. It wasn't contractions I were having, they brought in a scanning machine, and I saw my little girl on the tv. Her heart rate was at 104 bpm, but she was still alive.
Beth put her hand on mine, and her hand on my stomach. telling me everything would be OK. Jessica gave one all mighty kick, and we both smiled and giggled.
The doctors finished examining me, then said I had to go into surgery there and then. And I'd have to be asleep. I did not want this.
But when I got into the theatre I got given one chance to be awake, one only. Thankfully even though I hate needles with a huge passion. it worked, and I was allowed to be awake.
I begged and pleaded for Beth to be with me, the room was packed to the rafters of all these doctors, nurses, and other people. I was so terrified and in shock. My daughter was born, and I lay there. Asking when she was going to cry, and it was taking forever to get operated on. Joe entered the theatre looking scared.
What was to happen next, has changed mine, my partners, Beths' and all of our close friends and family's lives forever.
The 7 people working on my littler girl came over, theatre hats in hand,
My little girl was too weak to live.
She was born asleep, and they had tried to get her breathing for 20 minutes.
But she was to weak.
I had become a angel mummy when I wanted and ached to be a mummy.
To a healthy, crying baby.
the theatre fell silent, then I heard tears. lots and lots of people crying,
My partner saying no over and over again, and collapsing into Beths' arms, her crying, I was looking around begging for it to have been my imagination. Then I realised it wasn't and I began sobbing uncontrollably.
We got to spend four days with her asleep, she would sleep of a night time in the Eden room, a specialised room for angel babies. then spend cuddle times in with me and my partner in a specialised flat for bereaved parents.

Our angel passed away on the 27th of October, at 7:56am weighing 2lb 12oz.

We Laid Jessica to rest on the 25th of November at 1:30pm..
I was in shock. My partner Joe carried her down our road, then we all got into the limo and had Jessie on our laps.
The drive felt like the longest drive ever.
When we arrived at the chapel there was so many people there.. so many faces.. so many people who loved Jess it made my heart melt.
I remember holding onto her butterfly light I got from the town centre a few nights before. it played horrible play music.. did our nuts in.. but u could turn it off and put just the lights on. They were so beautiful.
I forgot her poem on the day of her funeral. it got "mislaid" at our house.
So i stood up to read her, her poem, but I didn't have it with me.
I froze. I couldn't say anything. All I could see was this little white box so I stood there, arm in arm with Beth whilst she read her poem.
We all carried her down to her bed, passing her from loved one to loved one. People we trusted. People who we knew loves her.
I don't remember much from when she was going into her bed. I just remember crying and seeing this little white box going into the ground.
But we did it! She got her bed. Shes in her forever bed.........

Your memories

posted 8 Nov 2012, 17:43 by Laura Kirk

Please email if you would like to add a post to this area of the site.

Jennifer's story

posted 11 Jan 2012, 11:39 by Olly Cruickshank

Jennifer Turner was born stillborn on 7th July 2004, a victim of the genetic disorder Edwards Syndrome. The condition results in poor growth in the womb of all structures including the vital internal organs. In the words of the consultant, Edwards Syndrome is simply incompatible with life.

Jennifer was a pretty girl, tall and slim, with delicate features and an intelligent face. Her long slender fingers mark her out as an artist, or a gifted musician. She was a bright girl: she would go to University, maybe abroad somewhere, maybe meet someone there and stay to get married. Most of all, she was very deeply loved, her parents’ pride and joy.

Except that Jennifer never lived more than eighteen weeks in her mother’s womb. She was stillborn, after a short, but very real, labour, tiny, frail, but perfect in every way, down to her tiny fingers, toes, and fingernails. Perfect, except that she had been conceived with a genetic complication that meant that she was never meant to live.

We had tried for a child for four years before Jennifer came. We had given up hope by then. All our efforts had seemed to be in vain. We were growing older, and our time may have been running out. But then, at the age of 39, we found out that Jennifer was on her way. We were so happy, we started to keep a diary of the pregnancy, something we could show the child when they were old enough to understand. My husband hoped for a daughter, but I did not care either way: so long as the baby was happy, that would be all that mattered.

We began to think of how we would need to reorganise the house, and finally implement the projects we had put off for another day. So we organised new furniture and a renovation of our bathroom, things that would be useful to us whatever happened, mindful of making too many plans too early.

To begin with the signs were all good, so good that once the bad news started to come in, we did not fully understand. At the scan at 13 weeks, we knew something was wrong because of the delay in telling us anything. They had measured the fluid at the back of the foetus’s neck, but not told us what it meant. Instead they asked us to wait in a consulting room. Even what we were told that day did not prepare us for the eventual outcome. They said that it was likely that the baby would have Downs syndrome, heart problems and limited intelligence, and suggested that because of this the best thing for us to do was to terminate the pregnancy.

But that was never an option: we read up about the subject and knew that whatever else happened, and no matter how difficult it might be, we would give our child the best chance possible. So although we knew we would need to have the invasive tests done, which would determine the extent of the genetic condition, we refused the CVS in favour of the amniocentesis, as we wanted to reduce the risks of miscarriage to a bare minimum. We had appointments set up right through to the baby’s due date: tests, scans, even an appointment at Guys Hospital in London, where the nature of any heart defects could be detected and hopefully corrected. But the result of that amniocentesis made all the rest irrelevant: our baby carried the most severe form of Edwards Syndrome: the child would at best be unresponsive, immobile and spend most of its terribly short life in the hospital; at worst she would be dead before leaving the womb, and we would wake up every morning, worrying whether she were still alive.

We were advised that, in the circumstances, all we could do was to have what the hospital called a ‘medical termination’, to clear the decks for what would be a hopefully more healthy baby. We were not rushed; we spent a solemn weekend thinking the situation over. Ironically, that weekend, the furniture we had ordered arrived, though we did not really notice. Sensing few other options, we agreed to the termination, and against all parental instinct I forced down the pills that would make my body reject the baby inside me. Somehow though, I had not felt the baby move for two days, and I hoped, for her sake, that she had already gone.

Two days later, in a special room away from the rest of the Delivery Suite, my labour was induced. It took five hours, and left me in pain, exhausted and emotionally shattered, but somehow, it made Jennifer real. The tiny baby – our baby – which we held in our hands for three hours that evening before they took her body away was such a wonder to us: she was a little baby, even at only 18 weeks: if she had not been so silent and so still, there would have been no sign of anything wrong. To us she was beautiful, and though the hospital chaplain who visited us was so kind, nothing anyone could say could reach us and make us feel any better: we had kept the diary going, all through the tests and the strain, we had some photographs – one in black and white that the hospital photographer took a day or two later, and the colour ones we took ourselves – a hand- and footprint the hospital staff did for us, and the blanket they wrapped her body in: that was all we took home of our daughter.

We had never wondered – as some suggested we might – why this had happened to us: to think like this would be to suggest that there were other parents in some kind of lottery. In fact, although we knew this was not true either in the sense of no other parents experiencing this situation or because we did not have any support from friends and family, we felt totally alone, fighting for our baby as long as we could. Now that it was over, we were empty: what was left was the routine, going back to work, coming home to each other, wondering whether we had done the right thing.

The hospital arranged the funeral for us – we could not bear to do it ourselves – and Jennifer was cremated at a lovely service at the beginning of the following month. We planted a rose for her, and gave her some toys which would survive outdoors, and which we have since brought home to our garden, so that even if we cannot go to visit her grave, we can still spend a little time with our Jennifer.

We were told that the funeral would help us to lay her to rest, but this was not the case. We became more sensitive, both to the fact that as far as our friends were concerned, our daughter seemed all but forgotten – though in truth they were probably being careful of our feelings – and also very light sleepers, waking at the slightest sound in the night. This became such a problem that we moved into the back room, just a mattress made up on the floor, and our hospital photograph of Jennifer, which we kissed every night before we went to sleep, terrified lest the bitter pain and memories of her began to fade.

On Jennifer’s due date, however, our feelings changed. We spent the day talking over what might have been, and what should have been. During the day, the feeling that I should have been carrying a baby – that had been with me for all these months – lifted. Not without some feelings of guilt, we understood that having gone through the previous nine months my husband and I now had a stronger bond, and that even if we did not consciously think of Jennifer every day, she would still be our first born daughter, and would still be with us. At first we were terrified if at the end of a day we realised that we had not thought about her, thinking that meant we were forgetting her, but as time went by we realised that not consciously thinking of her was fine: she would creep into our thoughts on her own, and we would be happy to think that if she were with us now, we would be showing her something magical.
We bought her a Christmas card, and on the anniversary of when she was born, we bought her a 1st year birthday card, and placed it next to her photograph for her to enjoy. And of course we still think of her, if not all the time, at least once a day. And we both visit her grave whenever we can, and each time we stand before the rose and the little plaque that bears her name, and weep for her.

But our consultant at the hospital was probably right in their advice to advance Jennifer’s inevitable early death: a little after six months later we returned to our consultant at the hospital, and she confirmed that not only was I expecting again, but that this time, I would be having twins. They are very healthy and very beautiful, playing together sitting up on the floor in front of me now, and though I love them both very dearly, I know there is someone else here, keeping an eye on us, but whom I would give almost anything to have playing here with them.

Can you have a “normal” birth following a loss?

posted 11 Jan 2012, 03:50 by Olly Cruickshank

The straightforward answer is no – it can’t be "normal" – not the pregnancy and certainly not giving birth to a baby you will this time take home. Physically, the birth will be the same as hundreds of thousands of other women, but mentally you can’t escape the pain and trauma of what happened before.

But I was determined to have a natural birth. I know some people thought I was crazy, and for those who lost babies later into their pregnancy I can understand why they couldn’t even think about going to term. But there was something inside me that said I’m going to have the water birth I had always hoped for.

My story was that I went into labour and gave birth early – there was nothing wrong with the babies (I was carrying twins) nothing wrong with my placenta or my blood. I had developed an infection and my body’s way of dealing with this infection was to go into labour. At just under 22 weeks gestation, the twins were just too small to survive.

The chance of this happening again were slim – and once I got past 30 weeks and the pregnancy was continuing well I started to believe that there was no reason why I shouldn’t continue until term and give birth how I wanted to.

Following research on induction and numerous discussions and deliberations with my partner, my consultant, my midwife, the NCT class teacher, and other SANDS members, I made up my mind and chose not to be induced early. The overriding reason for this was the statistical percentage of prolonged, painful inductions (prior to term + 10 days) and the number which ultimately ended in caesarean section – something I personally was determined to avoid.

The last few weeks were not easy – I frequently thought "my baby is alive right now and would be perfectly healthy if born now" but I hung on in there.

My due date came and went and I was now getting quite nervous, despite the frequent ‘check up’ trips to the day assessment unit. I remember those trips well – I would get so nervous walking through the hospital and couldn’t relax until the trace had been completed and everything was OK. I frequently thought "why am I putting myself through this?" But by this time I knew of three other ladies who had inductions before term - none of which worked particularly well and 2 ended in caesarean – real life examples, not just a book of statistics.

But the strain was beginning to show – not just for me but my partner too. I saw my consultant and we agreed on induction at Term + 10 days, when success was more likely.

Fortunately the induction worked at the first attempt and my labour progressed well. My Blood Pressure and the baby’s heart rate were perfect so I was cleared to go into the pool. I then continued to have a relatively straightforward (although of course, long and painful as most are!) labour and delivery.

Throughout life I’ve always been a very determined person and firm believer of "if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything".

I will never forget the painful, traumatic experience of giving birth to the twins knowing they’ll not survive, but I’m very proud of achieving the most amazing birth experience I could ever have imagined for the delivery of my daughter.

Since writing this article Helen has subsequently had another baby, born at Term+2 days with no complications.

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