We’ll look for you in the stars Kelsey.
There’s a common consensus that says, “When you lose someone, you never forget but learn to keep going.” Who ever said that, had never endured the loss of their own daughter.
When we fell pregnant with Kelsey back in 1999. My wife and I were still young at just 20 years old. I remember taking Paula out for a meal, bump and all, for her birthday on the 6th August and we sat and discussed our future plans together. Little did we know that the following week on a routine scan she would have given birth.
Friday, 13th August 1999 our scheduled scan came. I was at work as usual when I got a call to say that my wife would be sent straight from Ashington hospital to the RVI in Newcastle. No further information or reasoning was given, it was just happening.
Within minutes of me arriving at the RVI, I was given blue scrubs, blood splattered surgery shoes and told to sit in the changing room until called. I still remember thinking that I forgot to invoice a particular client that day. Strange the things you think about when you don’t really understand what’s going on.
I have no doubt the doctors told me what was going on… I just don’t remember anything they told me.
I was ushered into the theatre and I sat stroking my beautiful wife’s hair while the doctors and nurses operated to bring Kelsey into the world, from behind a huge screen over Paula’s stomach – over 12 weeks earlier than this was supposed to have been happening.
To this day I don’t know how long the procedure took all I can remember was the silence… there shouldn’t have been silence… surely there was meant to be a baby screaming her lungs out… but there wasn’t. Kelsey was carried away to an incubator and took out the room, it was hours until I saw her again.
“When you say nothing at all,” by Ronan Keating was playing in the waiting room as I walked towards waiting family members to update them on something I couldn’t quite understand myself. I still can’t hear that song to this day. It’s strange the things that stay with you.
Kelsey bravely fought on for exactly 7 days, within that time my wife stayed with her in the hospital and sat beside her incubator as much as she was allowed to. I spent my time between work and the hospital, in hindsight I shouldn’t have left their side but at the time I just didn’t know what to do. My visits to Kelsey took on a ritual of their own, a “Hello!” followed by the customary hand scrub, removal of my gold ring, a gift from Paula when we first met, before finally unlocking the incubator door and for just a few precious seconds I was allowed to touch her hand. Then I leant back in the uncomfortable seat and I was left to just sit and stare and wonder at my baby girl.
That Friday night 7 days on when the doctors told us there was nothing they could do and it would be best to say our final goodbyes before switching all the machines off will always stay with me. You go through every emotion in situations like that, anger at the doctors for not doing what they are supposed to, confusion that this isn’t the way it was meant to be and the worst gut wrenching pain that I’ve never experienced anything close to almost 17 years on.
Paula, myself and our family were asked the following day if they would like to hold Kelsey and spend some time with her in a family room, something I was dead against at the time. Kelsey was wrapped up in a white cotton blanket and passed around grandparents, aunties uncles and finally to Paula and myself. It just felt wrong to me. If I wasn’t going to hold my daughter at 2am in the morning when she needed a feed, I can’t hold her like this. Luckily Paula persuaded me to hold her and kiss her cold head and have that second that every parent should have. You are supposed to have millions of these moments not just this one!
Down to my wife’s strength, nature and all round being we got through the next few days, then months and now years and I’m proud to still call her my wife and the mother of not only our 13 and 8-year-old sons but our first born daughter who will always be there with us. Forever.
Why am I writing this? It’s not about getting things off my chest or making other people feel for us it’s for one reason, that reason is The Tiny Lives Trust. The work this charity does to help families and the support they give to the doctors and amazing nurses, who can’t help but be affected by their job, is second to none.
I’m proud to support Tiny Lives and have done for many years now, through my directorship at Venture Stream I’m lucky enough to showcase this charity to my amazing colleagues, clients and continue to help them anyway I can.
If there’s something you can do to support a charity like Tiny Lives, then please do it.