I now have a hatred for numbered birthday balloons, when we came home from hospital that afternoon the first thing I did was pop the rose gold foil number one, taking with it the excitement and happiness of her up coming party. Eva was a bright shining force of nature; she was a perfect, healthy, beautiful baby who turned one on the 20thNovember 2019 and two days later didn’t wake up again.
Mike and I have been together for nearly 13 years this year, and we always knew we wanted a family one day. Eight months after getting married I fell pregnant and although I was incredibly sick for two thirds of it, the overwhelming feeling was excitement of started our family. Eva was born bang on her due date (which as a Project Manager felt apt), happy and healthy. We spent a wonderful year with her, getting to know her personality, watching her learn to wave and clap, laugh and say “dada“. I can honestly say that every night I put her down to bed feeling so grateful and blessed to have her in our lives.
We spent her first birthday at the aquarium with my best friend and her little girl (who was only 3 weeks younger) before planning her party three days later. On Friday 22nd November, I got up at 6am ready for work, got dressed and sorted and headed to Eva’s room to start the day. I remember turning the light on and looking at her on her tummy, hand around the crib thinking how cute she looked and then the reality when I went to wake her that she was cold, blue and gone. Our baby was gone. I screamed and Mike came running and started CPR whilst I phoned 999, but even then, I knew she was gone.
That day I can play on a video loop, traumatising myself at will, of the ambulance ride to the hospital with her covered by a sheet, the small shitty room we sat on the floor of for hours with our closest family members as we spoke to nurses, doctors, police and finally going in to say our goodbyes to her. I wasn’t going to see her again as I was and am scared by her appearance, but I wanted to see her once more and I’m glad I did as she looked more like her than when I found her, I recited her bedtime story from memory whilst holding her delicate but cold hand. Our lives never to be the same again.
Before that we did have a pretty charmed life now looking back, it was so simple we loved each other and we loved Eva with everything we had. I had done everything by the book, I was still breastfeeding her, she ate homemade food, she could stand and roll both ways, she wasn’t ill. How does a healthy one year old go to bed one day and not wake up the next. The guilt of being her mother and not saving her will live with me forever.
It was like a bizarre f*cked up film going home from the hospital that afternoon. They just let us go home back to birthday presents, balloons and baby toys; with no medication or direction, and the silence was deafening. We had no idea what to do with ourselves, deciding in the end to sleep on the living floor with the TV on for company. People came and went from our house, on the third day two flower delivery vans pulled up with bunches and bunches of flowers, and I sent them all home with our friends and family. I didn’t want them, as I didn’t want the reality of what they represented, I didn’t want this life. I didn’t want a life, if this was it without my baby.
Each minute crawled by just to be greeted by the next minute, with the sole purpose of just getting through each one but for no apparent reason. We were enduring life, it felt so pointless and at times still does now. Nine days later we had a very small service at the crematorium, which I had no desire to have; it was just something we had to do.
Shortly after, we started counselling together with a small local charity called the Bluebell Foundation, and six weeks after Eva’s death, I start therapy with a focus on EMDR with an amazing therapist I still see now. I would massively recommend EMDR to everyone struggling to process trauma, I still replay that morning, but nowhere near as much and I have learnt tools to move the thoughts on.
Four weeks after Eva’s funeral, I found out I was pregnant, having only had my first period since having Eva on her birthday. Extreme grief and pregnancy are a complicated combination, trying to eat for the growing baby, not seeing the point in living if Eva wasn’t here too.
The birth was mentally traumatic, if I’m honest as my mind really wasn’t in a good place, although I had a brilliant team around me. Mike’s sister is a midwife and delivered the baby under immense pressure, I was so scared of the world around me, I could no longer trust what I knew or have faith everything would work out in the end. After being induced and a second episiotomy, there she was, Margo, our second perfect little girl.
The fear of exposing Margo to the world, alongside a pandemic is not easy, we spent a fortune on breathing monitors, movement mats, anything to try and get some piece of mind. In the midst of everything though there’s Margo; full of energy, happiness, and at eight months now a very different character to her big sister’s more thoughtful nature. Loving to laugh and smile at everything thrown her way.
We are still fairly new to the grieving process, adding having a new baby; it’s a lot. Margo is what keeps me going each day, although trying to balance the days when I’m overwhelmed by sadness whilst feeding and entertaining a baby is incredibly challenging and draining, I live for having her with me.
I don’t know where our story will end up, and every day I have to wake up and assess how much I can cope with that day. But I do know that we’re doing it each day we get through. In the beginning the waves crashed over me relentlessly, the water from the shower hurt, food felt like a foreign object in my mouth, I could barely breathe. Although I can still remember and touch that pain sucking me back there in a second, the waves now crash less often and I have learnt to breathe again in between them.
A quote I think about often, is one by Zoe Clark-Coates:
“Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, at times utterly crap things happen for no reason at all.”
I also found ‘The Baby Loss Guide’ really helpful. When I didn’t know how I was going to get through the minutes, never mind the days, her daily tasks gave me a tiny focus.
We have started a page in our Eva’s name to try and ensure our local charity can continue https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/eva-hool