Monthly Archives: April 2018

melody and me

Nobody’s Army

There has been so much in the media about saving poorly children, the fight for their survival, the fight to do anything but have to bury them. I can’t imagine what these families have to go through; our daughter was only here for five weeks.

As I see the scores of angry messages, the protests, the army of people fighting for their very last rights. The media, social and otherwise are filled with these stories.

Makes me question… Did WE love our daughter enough? Did we fight or try hard enough?

We have always had questions surrounding her death – our baby had the best odds, death wasn’t in her plans, she WAS coming home, no brain damage, breathing without a ventilator, she burped, she even smiled; she had cuddles, she was fed via a tube simply because she was too tiny to have the sucking reflex, which she was fast learning.

She STILL died.

There was no time for an army, a brief message on Facebook asking for thoughts, no options of fighting when we arrived. Just the words “She won’t survive.”

I’ll always question and blame MYSELF about whether I did something wrong in my pregnancy, or had eaten something that may not have agrees with her expressed milk.

I don’t know if I loved her enough, it was hard to love someone through an incubator, did she know that we loved her?

Did we fight and beg hard enough that morning? Maybe I wasn’t strong enough to fight, I wanted to believe me, I needed them to tell me that it was just an April fool’s joke. I needed them to tell me they were wrong, but once those words had been said, like a dagger to the side, it killed me yet kept me alive at the same time. Why wasn’t I strong enough to fight for her? To keep her safe? She wasn’t meant to die.

When those fateful words of death came, the only thing I could think of doing was to hold her. To know that we loved her in her final minutes, it really was minutes, from the broken news to her final breath.

I just wish I’d held her longer, kissed her forehead. I wish I hadn’t taken our time together for granted, and took in her beauty, to remember her soft skin, the warmth of her breath, her fuzzy hair.

How were we supposed to say goodbye? We DID – DO love her. Always.

Wishes are all we have. Guarding the dreams that should have been. EVERYTHING should have been different.

Melody’s Memories – Keepsake Box

memory box

There are four different boxes on our house. My older two children have one each, which they chose to put together; they chose what was going into them. They look at them rarely, but when they do they always try to include their little sisters, the girls who never met Melody.

Days after her funeral we were very kindly gifted a wooden memory box, personalised to her to replace the hospitals offering. It is one of my favourite things. Although I love it, I have also hated it; it isn’t something we open often, but it has been made easier by splitting the box into two. Having a shoe box with the photos of her after we lost her and painful documents have been easier to look through her “main” memory box. Both boxes remain tucked away in our wardrobe.

I wanted to share with you her memory box; because it is one of my favourite things of her.

Picture One

memory box

  • In Loving Memory of Our Darling Daughter poetry card, this was one of the few items in the box we were given at the hospital.
  • Child’s Health Record – the famous Red Book; it has one or two entries inside. I’m glad she has one.
  • Inside the little box was a gift from the Mayflowers (the mums who gifted us the box), there is a locket that came in the box too with Melody’s picture inside.

 

Picture Two

memory box

This was her ‘thumby’. Basically it is a dummy which is shaped like a thumb. She wasn’t supposed to have had it at the age that she did due to not having the right sucking reflexes, but she found hers a little sooner than expected was given this as a comforter and a way to teach her to suck ready for when she could take milk orally.

 

Picture Three

memory box

Apologies for the DVD in the pictures, it just gives you an idea of the sizes of some of her items.

  • These are baby grows, each are from 3lb upwards so they each were still too big for her, but they did make her look cosy.
  • The nappy at the top, you can’t buy in the shops, they’re specially made for micro preemies, even this swamped her but she certainly filled them well!!
  • Her first ever hat. So tiny and a little bit stained she didn’t wear it for long.

 

Picture Four

Her siblings, especially her older sister would always write to her, or draw her pictures; this one was on the side of her cot.

“Dear Melody come home soon”

Picture Five

Little Miss Star was a Christmas gift, when her first Christmas was missed. The Goblet of Fire; I was reading this when I had my hospital stay(s) before she was born. The morning she was finally born, my consultant came in and said all he had to say, just before her left her said to us that he wouldn’t be delivering the baby until I had read The Deathly Hallows (the final book if you weren’t aware). I think it was his way of trying to reassure us of such a scary time. A few hours later she was born. I never finished that book.

 

Picture Six

The pink blanket is one she managed to use all the time she was there, it was one of the unit’s blankets. She always looked so snuggly underneath it. Also in this picture is another of her vests, and a teddy which had been attached to one of her balloons, yellow as always.

 

Picture Seven

The one of her certificates she received while in the unit. They give them to all micros who hit 1kg; she had just hit it during the week leading up to her death. Born 670g she struggled to gain weight, simply because she would burn more calories fidgeting than she took in, her weight went up and down a lot; until one day she finally hit her first kilo. In the top corner, I was very pleased to have received a Mother’s Day card from her, complete with her photo and a foot print. I wasn’t allowed to visit on the day of Mother’s Day that year; being told “there’s always next year”. I just wish now that I had visited her.

And finally a dress. This dress is identical to the one which she was buried in. A couple of years ago, as I was putting away my youngest daughter’s newborn clothes which included a coming home outfit. It occurred to me that we couldn’t have Melody’s; so I placed a Facebook message and within a matter of days one of my friends said she had the dress. It may never have been worn by our daughter, but it is just a reminder of what she will wear forever.

 

Picture Eight

Includes all of the above but also.

  • Booties we brought in the hospital while we waited for her arrival.
  • Congratulations cards (her sympathy ones are in the shoe box)
  • Order of Service
  • A baby made of icing
  • A muslin square
  • A baby-grow with monkeys on it, she never wore it but we couldn’t let her sisters wear it.
  • Hats from Australia – her uncle spent the whole time she was alive over there travelling and brought her hats.
  • A nursing bra – crazy I know but she always pouched in there when we had kangaroo care.
  • A baby loss brooch.
  • A gifted personalised keyring
  • Christmas decoration that her older sister made for her.
  • Name wristband, it was attached to her cot, ready for when she was big enough to wear it.
  • Number One Candle from the first missed birthday
  • Finally a PE top and tie, from the first year she should have started school.

There should never be any pressure to keep a memory box or special space within your home. I know I struggled not having a shelf in our house that is for her, but now I have one – I don’t like it, but I can’t take it down because I think I’d have some kind of guilt feeling. For now it will stay.

Having the options for these keepsakes are so important to families, some hospitals provide them it is such a lottery as to whether or not a family will receive one. I was lucky to have met some wonderful online friends who clubbed together to buy us one. We’ll never forget their kindness.

This box isn’t a shrine, just little pieces of her.

 

melody and me

The Lasting Goodbye…Part Two.

13th April 2012.

The alarm bounded out.

But we were already awake; sleep wasn’t one of the options.

We had been dreading this day.
The children were restless, chatting at breakfast eyes wide with wonder.
My husband and I paced silently.

Numb.
What would this day bring?
Flowers were arriving, was this really all for us?
The sun was shining exactly as it did on the day she arrived; now it shone for the day she would be…leaving.
Set on auto pilot, we washed we dressed.

We remained calm, following the children’s examples. How were we going to get through this day? Any day really?
We made our way to our car hand in hand, brightly dressed so she could see us clearly, desperately hoped she could now open her eyes without pain.
We were still too early, clock watching to the last moment, the final second time stood still.
We arrived at the church to a small line of people, I can’t remember the order but there were people.
My legs felt like jelly, like my bones had been removed, my chest felt tight and heavy; yet somehow I managed to keep up right to keep breathing. I wasn’t sure if I needed to be sick or not.

Again we had no choice.
We followed the smartly dressed man into the church. Hands tightly held the four of us, too scared to let go unless we lost one another.

I could just recall the haunting sound of Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace,

I could feel myself detaching.

We were here for someone else. This wasn’t our story.
We continued to walk closer to the front of the church, when we looked forward, there she was a little pink box on another little table.

Only now we wanted more than anything for it to be the big clear box that she had been in 2 weeks before.
One last chance, one last hope that this had all been a horrible mistake, her final chance to let us know everyone was wrong.

The book “Dragonflies and Water bugs” was read to us all, the children concentrated on every word.

My son clung to every word.

My daughter nervously waited to do her part.

She wanted to do something for her sister.
A picture she had drawn, a story she had written. She had a love for her sister that would grow with her forever.
Another song was played, instead of hymns, she was far too young to have hymns, the song had far more meaning.
“My Love” By Sia

The tears hit, the pain knocked like waves smashing into my already broken self.

Would they ever stop?

Would I ever be able to stand from this seat again?
We blew her a kiss and followed her as the smartly dressed man carried her out of the church, to her final journey to the song of Every Breath You Take.

We felt too weak to carry her; we were still too scared we would hurt her.

The blessing was a private moment between my husband, the children and I.

A candle lit as the blessing took place, when all we could think of was her baptism should never have been like this.
We knelt beside her, and gave her a blanket of daffodils, some extra warmth because we didn’t want her to get cold.
The rest of our guests came forward so they could say good bye, and send her some pink balloons.
We had prepared 35 balloons and 35 daffodils.

One per day she was with us, never enough days.

A decision we could never change.

The chance had gone.
11am we released the balloons watching them fly high some together, some drifted; the drifters would be as Melody is now.

We thought this was going to be the worst day of our lives, but really how could it have been. We had already done that part on the 1st.
Flying solo, while we as a family carry her in our hearts.

People may wonder why we continue to remember and share these dates.

Can you remember the age your child said their first word?

Melody never did that.

Can you remember when your child first walked?

Melody never did that either.

The dates of final moments, final memories are all we have of her.

We had no choice in how happy the memories would be this is what we have; we shall continue to build a lasting memory.

Because that is all we have.

We never wanted to say goodbye.

Xxxxx

 

melody and me

The Last Goodbye…Part One

2012

 

Thursday 12th April 2012 I had to make a decision, a decision I had no idea whether I would regret or not. What was right, or wrong?

A painful decision either way to make.

We walked over to the chapel of rest our hands held tight, my husband had already made his choice and was set.

Yet to me, it felt impossible. But in truth it shouldn’t have been difficult; I should have known instantly, whether or not I would see my baby one last time.

Our names were called, and in that moment my decision had been made, I had changed a million times. We rose to our feet I took my husband’s hand; we kept close together and slowly followed the smartly dressed man…

The room was small, softly lit with candles to add to the effect.

A small table in the centre of the room, it was painfully obvious what was stood in front of us. It looked no bigger than a memory box, but definitely bigger than a shoe box.

The next question “Are you ready?” I know took us by surprise. I had almost forgotten that there was another person in the room.

Were we ever ready?

But this was not something we could put off, because we knew that the next day would be too late.

We nodded, holding each other tight, tighter than we felt strong enough for.

Terrified we had made a wrong choice.

The crochet blanket was gently pulled back, the smartly dressed man left.

“Have as long as you need”

But we needed forever, he couldn’t give us that.

We stepped forward slowly, peeking in not knowing what to expect.

A warning, a guide but nobody is ever the same.

There she lay peaceful, make up made her look perfect.

Almost like there was no reason for her to be there, if only.

Surgical tape had slightly embedded into her baby face, and the stillness that was blindingly obvious, no breath sounds no delicate baby snore, just the deafening silence.

We exchanged glances, and questioned

“How was this fair?”

“Why the hell us?”

“What had we done?”

“Was this all my fault?”

We didn’t know if we were allowed to touch her or get too close.

I wanted to cuddle her, but was afraid I would hurt her, although I knew that was now impossible.

We placed our photos and drawings the children had asked us to take, I stroked her face, suddenly remembering that her warmth had long gone, it had been replaced with an icy cold glow. It caught me off guard.

We still hoped that somehow she would open her eyes.

We were willing her to breathe. I held my breath in case I missed her chest rise and fall, in case she was moving. But that rise and fall didn’t appear, stillness replaced that wish.

Talking to her, telling her how much we loved her, how much we missed her already, wanting everything to be just an awful nightmare.

We felt lost, we held on to each other’s gaze, it was then we knew the time had come to tuck her in to her blanket for the final time, to kiss her good night for the final time.

Knowing we would need to remember how she smelt, how she felt, all in one movement.

It was our one chance.

It was our one final chance.

I can’t remember whether her coffin had a plaque, and if it did I don’t know what it said.

 

We lifted the blanket a corner in each hand, tears rolling down our faces we covered her, tucking her in replacing the blanket with each other’s hands walking back wards giving her a lasting Good Bye.

 

For the next day it would be the last……

 

 

melody and me

Day 35. And Then She Was Gone.

Her Dad phoned in as he always did. I don’t know why; but I never liked phoning in, he was far braver than me. She wasn’t feeling herself at 11pm the night before, but after the past week, it was kind of expected. They were going to wait and see for the Dr at 2am.

I was just waking up when he came into the room to wake me to say that Melody was feeling a little poorly over night – they were considering placing her on to ventilation. To me that wasn’t feeling a little poorly; this was something more.

I leapt from my bed and we tried to decide what we would do. We had my older two children; we had plans to visit just me and my eldest daughter. It was then we decided to get their Dad to have them while we went to see what was happening. We fully intended on returning to collect them to go and visit her.

We had a phone call asking if we were going to make our way over to the hospital, we said yes.

Dropping the children off as soon as we could, ensuring them that we’d be back soon, we would all get to see her later. Another phone call came; asked us how long we would be.

My husband and I talked on the way there, we were fully expecting them to tell us that they were going to transfer her to another hospital; they were just waiting for us to maybe sign forms. That is all we were expecting.

Reached the car park, where I placed a Facebook status, asking for positive vibes and wishes for this little girl, who we thought was going to be moved.

We buzzed ourselves in, the atmosphere was different; even before we had walked into the actual unit – something was off. We entered the room, saw boards around one bed; then headed the opposite direction to where she had been the day before. She wasn’t there. Where was she?

She was indeed in the bed space behind the boards. There were no other parents, there seemed minimal staff; we stood by the nurses’ station and was greeted by her paediatrician.

“Melody became very unwell overnight. It is expected that she won’t survive.”

What the actual fuck?!!

My legs turned to jelly, I hit the ground but I remained upright – somehow. She was still talking, I couldn’t quite tell what she was saying; I just looked towards the screens. She was in a bed space that she was never in, even when she was first born – she was now in the highest of point of intensive care.

I couldn’t stand the sound of her voice any longer, I wanted to slap her, grab her and scream in her face to tell her to stop – to stop lying, to just shut up.  I needed us to be with Melody. We walked behind the screens, to find a nurse performing chest compressions. She’d had her heart restarted five times in the final hours.

“Do you want to hold her?”

Of course, I did  – I didn’t want to let her go. How was I supposed to let her go? How exactly was my heart supposed to beat?

They gently lifted her from the incubator, leads and tubes covered her tiny little body; this tiny little ventilator up against her face. How were we supposed to do this?

Melody was gently placed in my arms. She was so peaceful, she didn’t look like she was dying.

I asked, begged, in fact, to be told that it would be some sick April Fool’s Joke. I looked around at each of the faces, none could make eye contact – none could tell me that they were lying; nobody could tell me that it was all going to be okay. Nobody. How was it ever going to be okay again?

I passed her to my husband, I couldn’t hold her; I am her Mum I was meant to protect her, I was supposed to do everything in my power to keep her safe; it was my one job. I couldn’t just sit and feel her life leave me, I couldn’t just watch helplessly as her restless body took its final breath.

The ventilator was removed, they were pressing the end, watching as we nodded to say stop. I didn’t want them to stop, how were we meant to say stop?! I knew I needed to hold her; I asked for her back, I whispered in her ears, desperately hoping it would help or that she would hear me. Begging her to stay, promising that I loved her, if I loved her more would she stay. Begged hard until I could no longer find the words.

They stopped, the little piece of plastic was removed; we held her together. We cried; they cried. She remained silent and peaceful. I could hear them whisper that she was gone – but she wasn’t she was still in our arms, she was STILL in our arms; she hadn’t gone anywhere.

Her heart stopped and everything changed.

She was meant to be our Rainbow Baby; our honeymoon baby. Instead, she became the baby who never grew up. Our missing note.

The start of something new.