Docs let my baby’s brother die…
Camille’s newborn was just seven days away to from having the right Is live... and so he died. there any justice in that?
We stood over an incubator: me with my heart breaking into pieces; the doctor with a sad, regretful face.
Inside it was my little son, my beautiful baby boy, Archie, with his tufty, blond hair and pointy chin.
‘I’m so sorry,’ the doctor was saying.
Archie had been born too early – at only 25 weeks. Then meningitis got a grip of him and now his organs were failing, one by one, and I was losing him.
‘There’s nothing more we can do,’ the man was saying.
‘I know that,’ I told him. ‘Thank you for everything...’
And I meant it, from the bottom of my heart.
This dedicated bunch of medics at Liverpool Women’s Hospital had moved heaven and earth to save my baby.
It was so different to last time... Eight months ago, I’d lost another precious baby. Another little boy – Alfie, my fifth child. Lightning had struck twice.
But that time, a different set of doctors and nurses had been involved. I felt they could have done more. My little one died, gasping in my arms.
I’d never get over it... When I fell pregnant with Alfie, me and my ex-partner, Eddie, already had Andrew,
14, Chloe, 11, Olivia, four, and two-year-old Issabella.
‘Please have a boy,’ Andrew had begged me. ‘I’m not sure how many more plaits I can do!’
‘I want a brother, too,’ footiemad Olivia piped up. ‘Somebody to watch Liverpool with.’
While my youngest girls loved anything pink or to do with princesses, Olivia was happier in her football kit.
‘I’ll do my best,’ I’d promised. I loved the chaos of my big family. Eddie was a gardener, while I was a stay-at-home mum. My children were my world. At 17 weeks pregnant, we paid for a scan to find out the sex.
‘It’s a boy,’ the sonographer smiled. ‘Yes!’ Olivia said, punching the air.
We went straight out to buy clothes.
‘This is so exciting,’ Olivia grinned, rifling through the rows of blue clothes.
We ended up buying a trouser set, which had braces.
‘Say cheese, girls,’ Eddie smiled afterwards, taking a snap of them posing with the clothes.
We announced the sex by posting that picture on Facebook, after we’d told Andrew and Chloe.
‘I won’t be outnumbered any more,’ Andrew laughed.
‘You’re going to be the luckiest little brother ever,’ I smiled, rubbing my bump.
We decided to name the baby Alfie.
But when I was 22 weeks plus five days pregnant, I was getting dinner ready when I felt a pain.
‘This doesn’t feel right, Eddie,’ I worried.
Leaving my mum, Dianne, with the kids, we went to Ormskirk and District General Hospital in Lancashire.
The consultant didn’t examine me and just said, ‘Braxton Hicks. You’ve got ligament pain, too.’ If he says so...
‘Take this support belt, it’ll help,’ he said.
He was the expert, after all. But two days later, on 25 April 2015, the pains got worse.
‘These are contractions,’ I panted.
‘It’ll be OK,’ Eddie croaked as we drove back to the hospital.
There, we got in the lift with a little girl and her mum.
‘What’s wrong with that lady?’ she whispered, pointing at me.
‘She’s just having a baby,’ her mum smiled.
‘I can’t be,’ I screamed inside. But in the delivery suite... ‘You’re 3cm dilated,’ a midwife said. ‘It’s too early,’ I sobbed. I was just 23 weeks gone... I knew that doctors didn’t have to fight to save a baby born at less than 24 weeks.
My baby had a week to go, to be safe.
‘There probably wouldn’t be anything we could do if he came now,’ the midwife said, confirming my fears. ‘I’ll get a doctor.’
‘Please save my son,’ I begged him as another contraction ripped me apart.
‘If this baby looks like he has a fighting chance, we will intervene,’ he told me. Thank God...
But when I pleaded for a scan, and steroids to help his little lungs in case he did come,
I was given nothing.
At 8.32pm, I howled like a wounded animal as I pushed my silent son into the world.
‘It’s OK,’ Eddie sobbed. But it wasn’t.
Alfie weighed just 1lb 2oz. The midwife wrapped him in a towel and brought him over to me.
She put a hand on my shoulder. ‘You must take some comfort that he passed during delivery,’ she said.
‘Noooo!’ I shrieked.
She put him in my arms and I held my dead baby close.
I could hear the midwife telling the doctors there was nothing more they could do, and then they left the room.
I looked down at Alfie. He was tiny, with a smattering of blond hair... And... Oh, God! – Breathing! ‘He’s alive!’ I screamed. Eddie jumped up. ‘Look,’ I sobbed. ‘You can see his heart beating.’
‘You can,’ Eddie gulped. Alfie’s skin was so thin, you could see his organs, his tiny heart beating away.
I shouted for the midwives. ‘He’s breathing!’ I pleaded. ‘Get the doctor.’
I shouted again. ‘He’s alive,’ I sobbed. ‘He can make it.’
I could feel Alfie gently moving his little hands and legs.
I kept holding him close, as if my heart could keep his going.
‘We need to get the placenta out,’ the midwife told me. ‘You need to stand up.’
I reluctantly handed Alfie to Eddie.
‘Why aren’t you helping him?’ I cried.
But they seemed focused on helping
An hour after Alfie was born, the doctor came back.
Mummy will always love you
‘He needed you,’ I screamed. He shook his head. ‘There’d be too much damage now, it would be cruel,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry.’
I basically had to wait for Alfie to die.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I sobbed, cuddling him. ‘We love you so much.’
I showered him in kisses and sang You Are My Sunshine.
But two hours and 13 minutes after he was born, Alfie took his final breath. I felt my heart shatter.
‘They let him die,’ I screamed. That’s how it felt to me.
We had his hand and footprint casts done, and then I was allowed to go home.
‘I hate leaving him behind,’ I wept.
Thirteen days later, we brought him home with us for one night before his funeral.
‘Mummy will always love you,’ I choked, bathing him tenderly.
That night, Alfie slept in a moses basket next to me, and the next morning, I dressed him in a white, footless sleepsuit.
I tucked the heart pendant from my necklace into his hand, wrapped the chain loosely around his wrist.
‘My heart will always be with you,’ I whispered.
We played Let It Be at his funeral, and as his little coffin was lowered into the ground, I vowed I’d get justice for him.
‘If he’d been stillborn, I could accept it,’ I told Eddie. ‘But he was alive. Surely that midwife shouldn’t have let the doctors leave.’
When I fell pregnant just six weeks later, it was fear that clutched at me.
We had a meeting about Alfie’s birth with staff at the hospital. They opened an investigation.
‘Do you think you could have done more?’ I asked.
‘In hindsight, yes,’ they said. ‘That isn’t good enough,’ I yelled. ‘Take what has happened to me and listen to other mums – take them seriously.’
My baby was gone.
It was all I could ask for...
For my new pregnancy, I was under the care of a different hospital, Liverpool Women’s Hospital – of TV’S One Born
Every Minute fame – who realised I had an incompetent cervix and put a stitch in. It kept baby Archie safe until his birth at 25 weeks – past that hideous cut-off – but he weighed just 1lb 9oz. And despite a fierce fight, now he was gone, too.
‘Be with your big brother,’ I sobbed. ‘Play on the clouds together.’
We brought Archie home straight away, where he slept in the same moses basket as Alfie.
I read him The Smartest Giant
In Town and held him close. He was buried next to Alfie, clutching the heart earrings that matched the necklace his brother had.
Two little brothers, lying side-by-side, my heart aching for them both... We muddled
the My children gave me strength to keep going
My beautful baby boy, Archie, was born at 25 weeks
Eddie and me comforted Alfie as he took his last breath
Isaac is such a happy little baby boy