So this is about me, a mother, but a mother with no child. A journey through life that was not chosen, but forced upon me on 14th December 2014.
27th November 2013 – A day that would define me as a person, the day my beautiful William Oscar Mead came into this world, also my birthday, it was meant to be.
14th December 2014 – A day that would change me as a person, the day my beautiful William Oscar Mead became an angel, this was not meant to be.
Welcome to my blog, a mother without a child. I guess this blog and the posts are my thoughts, an inner dialogue with myself. Perhaps the ability to be able to write what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling and read it back to myself, almost makes those thoughts real, because nothing about my situation feels real.
William or Grumpus as he was affectionately known died on Sunday 14th December 2014. Grumpus had been under the weather the previous week, he’d had his booster on the Monday, was teething and had a cough but by the Friday he’d gone off his food and his temperature had soared whilst at nursery so we took him straight to the doctors, where his temperature was taken, it was 40.1c. They checked for a rash, nothing, checked his ears, fine, checked his throat, fine, listened to his chest, clear. The lack of these ‘red flag’ symptoms meant we were sent home despite the alarmingly high temperature and told to give Grumpus Calpol for the temperature and Nurofen for the discomfort. “Don’t worry it’s nothing grisly” he said, “he’ll be better in 48 hours”.
On the face of it that might seem ok, just a winter cough, reaction to the booster, teething, all of which we accepted, after all, we weren’t doctors. Neurotic, over protective, worried and flustered first time parents maybe, but not doctors.
So, arriving home William had Calpol and Nurofen and lots of cuddles, his temperature soon started coming down so he was a little more comfortable, exhausted and tired he went to bed. William was stirring quite a lot during the evening so I went in to give him some more Calpol, Nurofen and cuddles. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed, cradling him, he soon settled and fell asleep in my arms. Snuggled in close to my neck, held so close so he felt warm, safe and secure. There I sat for 3 and a half hours, he stirred again and was trying to stretch, so I placed him back in his cot, put his arm around his favourite reindeer and left him to sleep.
Saturday morning William woke early, not hungry, still with a fever, and lethargic. I knew that my Saturday would be spent giving him sips of water and having lots of cuddles with my favourite little person. As the day wore on, I saw no improvement, so a little worried I called 111, I explained the situation and was advised it wasn’t a medical emergency so he would ask an out of hours doctor to call me back, “we are very busy today” the call handler told me, “it might be a few hours before we call you back”.
6.53pm the doctor called back. I had just put William to bed, tucked up in his sleeping bag, and he had just nodded off with his reindeer. I explained the situation including how he had been poorly in the months leading up to today, very thoroughly and succinctly. Explaining that it was now over 24 hours since seeing the doctor, I was concerned there was no improvement, in fact I felt he was worse, he was now vomiting, bile, with no food in his stomach. He was completely lethargic and had no energy, all he wanted to do was sleep and he was in some discomfort. I asked in his professional opinion should he be seen? The doctor said that it was probably a viral infection and would get better without treatment, he was In the best place and that I should leave him be in bed. Although still worried I felt reassured, by the doctor on the Friday, the 111 call handler and now the out of hours doctor, William was asleep, warm and comfortable In bed. I remained on the phone for several minutes with the doctor, myself questioning and the doctor reassuring.
We checked on Grumpus before bed, he was a little unsettled, sat up had a little drink but almost immediately put himself back to sleep. We checked on him through the night and he was ok, asleep, moving around. 5am, he moved around his cot for about 10 minutes, blinking at the camera, he looked, we watched. He had a little drink and went back to sleep. We both thought, brilliant, he seems more alert, in a couple of hours he’ll be sat up babbling to himself that he was hungry and wanted his porridge.
Just after 8 I woke up, William looked asleep and was not stirring, not unusual, he had been exhausted and was probably tired, so I thought I would give him a little more time before stirring him.
I opened his bedroom door slowly so as not to wake him up with a startle. It was dark, I could see him but could not really make his features out. I stroked his cheek it was warm but he didn’t stir, I knelt down and put my arm through the cot bars and stroked his arm, it was cold, I stood, and stroked his side, he was stiff. I opened the curtains as quickly as I could, I took one step to the cot, and I knew he was gone,
We gave William CPR until the paramedics arrived in 3 minutes and 55 seconds when they took over, but there was nothing they could do. My beautiful boy, the love of my life was gone. That’s when the screaming started, until my instincts as mum kicked in, I needed to hold him to take him to hospital, to look after him, that was my job, no-one else. We were taken to the hospital, holding him all the way, where I held him tight apart from when they examined him. I held him until they told me I had to let him go, “where are you taking him” I asked, “the mortuary” the doctor quietly responded. I would take him I told them, so I stood up, holding William still wrapped in his blanket and walked through the hospital guided by the doctor to the mortuary. When I had to put William in the arms of the mortician I think i lost control, I can’t remember, I can’t remember much else from that day. That day passed in a daze of doctors, paediatrician’s, police (because he died at home), rapid response practitioners and people I can’t even remember.
Life as I knew it was over, everything was over, my questions began, why couldn’t they save him? Why William? What was wrong with him? When would he be coming home?
We soon found out from the coroner the preliminary cause of death; abscess of the left upper lung lobe contributing to a pleural empyema. It was soon revealed from his blood tests that he was suffering from an Invasive Streptococcal A Infection, Sepsis. As soon as this was revealed Paul and I had blood tests and chest x-rays to identify whether we had this infection too, we didn’t.
Now that I have explained what happened in William’s last days, what happened in the months leading up to William’s death might make more sense.
At the end of September I took William to the doctor with high temperature, red raw throat and generally unwell. Acute tonsillitis was diagnosed, 5 days of Amoxicillin was prescribed. At the beginning of October, William, by now slightly better but still not right came out in an aggressive pin prick red rash, I knew it wasn’t meningitis but immediately rushed him back to the doctors. Scarlet fever they said, the tonsillitis is part of scarlet fever, William was already on antibiotics so they said carry on with those and it should clear up in a couple of days.
The pin prick rash took days to clear up but William’s throat was better and his appetite had come back, I almost had my little boy back, although I loved the extra cuddles it was good to see him full of energy again. Now with William full of beans he developed a cough, no runny nose, no watery eyes, no temperature, just a cough. After a couple of days it hadn’t cleared up so on the 13th of October I packed William into the car and back to the doctors we went. Just a winter cold I was told, it’ll clear up shortly. William had just started nursery so he’s bound to pick up all sorts they said, something I could understand.
So, 12th November William had had a cough since early October, persistent and had gradually deteriorated which now saw him regularly coughing up sputum and vomiting 2, 3 or 4 times a day. So, off to the doctors we went. I was really concerned. I explained that William had been coughing since early October, continually with no let up and now was vomiting and coughing up sputum. The doctor listened to his chest for a long time and said “I can definitely hear something, but his chest cavity is small so the sounds bounce off each other”. I asked whether antibiotics would be best, she said no, it’ll just be a childhood cold, the vomiting is just because he’s full of sputum. She gave us an inhaler as she recognised his breathing was slightly worse and off we went, again.
21st November, I had seen no improvement with the inhaler so I took William back to the doctors, by this point the nursery had asked us to supply them with a letter to explain that William’s vomiting was due to the cough and not a stomach bug. I went through all the symptoms once more, explained how they had deteriorated, how the inhaler was having no effect, how there is a history of lung disease in the family, but once again we were sent home. Just a cough. Just a cold. Kid’s have so many over the winter time.
So we trundled on, thinking nothing more, we trusted what they said, and William in himself was ok, the cough was a standard part of his day, the vomiting part of his feeding routine, like they said, he was full of phlegm.
We celebrated his first birthday on the 27th November with a lovely cake and lovely friends. Mummy was allowed a glass of wine because it was her birthday too. Sharing our birthdays only cemented how special our bond was and still is.
We were busy making plans, spending Christmas and New Year in Spain with my family, this required lots of organisation. We’d had the car serviced, the presents were bought, I’d finished work for Christmas, cleaning the house. The weekend that Grumpus died was the weekend before we travelled to Portsmouth to get the ferry. But it was never meant to be. 2 Days before we were due to travel, our lives changed forever.
There was an inquest in Grumpus’ death in June 2015, where we questioned why nothing was done, why we weren’t listened to, why no tests were done, no blood tests, no saliva samples, no further antibiotics, and no chest x-rays, nothing. William died so needlessly in an age where modern-day antibiotics and treatment mean his final cause of death is uncommon.
William has paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we are paying for it for the rest of our lives. I will never accept it, it’s unacceptable, I will never understand it, because it’s not understandable, I can’t see reason with it, because it can’t be rationalised.
Maybe like me, you might read this blog and it might give you some comfort, someone else is going through the same life changing circumstances, experiencing pain that is also indescribable, a life of emptiness, with a million questions. If I can offer support to anyone through this blog that is experiencing the loss of a child, or if you feel you can offer me support then please get in touch.
You are not alone.
Please go to the blogs section using the menu to see my daily posts.