Trolled as we grieved

Dur­ing the time of their grief, Jen­nifer Gel­latly, 33, from Dundee, and her chil­dren had to en­dure sick­en­ing abuse from strangers…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Watch­ing my son Jay­den with his older sib­lings, I beamed with pride. Jes­sica, then 11, was hum­ming the Thomas the Tank En­gine theme tune.

It was her baby brother’s favourite show.

Jay­den, then one, gig­gled as he lay on his back, wig­gling his lit­tle legs in the air.

‘He’s so cute,’ Dy­lan, then 15, cooed as Daniel, seven, tick­led Jay­den’s belly.

As a sin­gle mum, noth­ing made me hap­pier than watch­ing my kids to­gether.

But it hadn’t been easy for us over the last year.

All my older kids had been per­fectly healthy ba­bies.

And my fourth preg­nancy had gone as smoothly as pos­si­ble, too. But when Jay­den was born in Au­gust 2014, things were dif­fer­ent. ‘He’s hav­ing trou­ble breath­ing,’ the doc­tor said. Jay­den was whisked to a spe­cial­ist unit, leav­ing me ter­ri­fied. I had to wait for hours be­fore I could see him. So poorly, yet so beau­ti­ful. Jay­den was kept in for tests, and at nine days old, he had an op­er­a­tion on a bowel block­age. Soon af­ter, he was di­ag­nosed with a string of health prob­lems. Glau­coma, caus­ing damage to his right eye, a heart de­fect, and liver dis­ease. The doc­tors didn’t know what had caused it. But they hoped, given time and the right treat­ment, Jay­den would re­cover. Still, over the next months, he bat­tled var­i­ous in­fec­tions.

He had surgery to fix his liver, and to his eye for the glau­coma.

As time went on, Jay­den’s head started to grow and seemed out of pro­por­tion to the rest of his tiny body.

‘Jay­den has a build-up of fluid on the brain, mak­ing his head swell,’ the doc­tor said.

While I stayed with Jay­den, the kids stayed at home with my mum, Linda, 59.

They vis­ited Jay­den when­ever they could.

‘When can he come home?’ they’d ask.

They all al­ready doted on their lit­tle brother.

Fi­nally, that mo­ment came in De­cem­ber.

‘Sur­prise!’ I cried, car­ry­ing him through the door. ‘Jay­den!’ the kids all squealed. Baby Jay­den was con­stantly fight­ing off in­fec­tions, and needed a cock­tail of med­i­ca­tion.

His head con­tin­ued to swell, but sadly, doc­tors couldn’t do any­thing about it.

But de­spite ev­ery­thing, he was such a happy lit­tle boy.

The five of us would en­joy cosy af­ter­noons snug­gled un­der­neath the du­vet watch­ing TV.

We’d spend sunny sum­mer days in the park.

The kids would fight over who got to push Jay­den’s pram.

They barely no­ticed strangers’ stares and whis­pers. But I wasn’t blind to it. ‘What are you look­ing at?’ I would snap.

Yes, Jay­den looked un­usual, but he was still just a child. My beau­ti­ful baby.

How dare they? I thought. His first birth­day flew by, and

be­fore I knew it, it was Au­gust 2016 and I was plan­ning his sec­ond birth­day party. And de­spite end­less hos­pi­tal vis­its, I still hoped he’d get bet­ter. One morn­ing, I changed Jay­den’s nappy, then put him back in his cot. Only, as I went to leave, I heard a high-pitched scream. It was an ag­o­nised wail I hadn’t heard be­fore. Running down­stairs to find an­other nappy and some med­i­ca­tion, I headed back up to Jay­den’s bed­room. But now, he was silent. ‘Jay­den?’ I whis­pered, my heart thump­ing in my chest. But he wasn’t breath­ing or mov­ing – just ly­ing there. His skin was grey. I di­alled 999 and an op­er­a­tor told me to start CPR. Within min­utes, paramedics ar­rived and took over. ‘Please save him,’ I wept, feel­ing ut­terly help­less.

He was rushed to Ninewells Hos­pi­tal, where doc­tors bat­tled for an hour to save him. But it was too late. Jay­den was gone. He’d died from en­do­cardi­tis – an in­fec­tion of the lin­ing of the heart.

Doc­tors be­lieved that it had been caused by a pre­vi­ous in­fec­tion which hadn’t cleared up.

Noth­ing could have saved my pre­cious lit­tle boy.

‘Jay­den has gone to heaven,’ I told the chil­dren as they cried.

We were all over­come with grief.

We couldn’t imag­ine life with­out Jay­den.

Weeks later, his tiny cof­fin was car­ried into the church for us to say good­bye.

We held hands and watched a slideshow of fam­ily pic­tures as Ed Sheeran’s Pho­to­graph played.

For two years, Jay­den had needed me 24/7. Sud­denly, I felt re­dun­dant. It was like a piece of my heart was miss­ing.

But it was com­fort­ing post­ing pho­tos of Jay­den on so­cial me­dia.

Shar­ing my love with the world. Here’s my beau­ti­ful Jay­den,i wrote on one of the posts. And sup­port­ive mes­sages flooded in. Jes­sica, then 12, posted pic­tures on her In­sta­gram ac­count, too. But one day in Fe­bru­ary 2017, she came running down­stairs. Her eyes blood­shot from sob­bing. ‘What’s wrong?’ I cried. ‘Look!’ she shrieked, hold­ing out her phone to me. Read­ing a com­ment be­low a beau­ti­ful snap of her and Jay­den, I felt my heart shat­ter in two. Your mum should’ve had an abor­tion, some­one had writ­ten. I felt sick to my stom­ach.

Jes­sica had replied to the mes­sage to say that Jay­den had re­cently passed away.

But the nasty com­ments kept on com­ing. Vegetable… You pulled the life sup­port from your lit­tle brother…

Each word made my stom­ach churn and my skin crawl.

Tak­ing screen­shots of each post, I im­me­di­ately re­ported them to In­sta­gram, who took ac­tion. They deleted the troll’s ac­count. But I couldn’t be­lieve that some­one could say such hor­rific things about an in­no­cent lit­tle baby.

Es­pe­cially know­ing Jay­den had re­cently passed away. It was sick­en­ing. I told Jes­sica and the other chil­dren to make all their so­cial me­dia pages pri­vate.

‘Block any fol­low­ers you don’t know,’ I said.

But ear­lier this year, an­other troll man­aged to slip through the net on Jes­sica’s In­sta­gram.

Worse, the posts were from a teenage girl.

What would make some­one so young so cruel? I felt hope­less. I wanted the chil­dren to be able to voice their grief on so­cial me­dia.

To share pic­tures of their lit­tle brother they loved so much.

But it seemed ev­ery time they did, they re­ceived abuse from strangers. ‘Block her,’ I told Jes­sica. It was all we could do. Now, I want to warn other par­ents about the dan­gers of trolls on­line.

They should keep a close eye on what their chil­dren are post­ing – and what they’re be­ing sent.

Shar­ing mem­o­ries and pic­tures of Jay­den is our way of re­mem­ber­ing him and I won’t let strangers stop us from do­ing that.

I refuse to let the trolls win.

How could they be so cruel?

So poorly but per­fect

We ig­nored the stares from strangers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.