Two years, life after loss

I can remember so clearly when and where we were when we found out we were expecting you. Earlier in the day I had been writhing around on my bed in agony. My first and genuine thought was that I had another tumour. Having had three ovarian tumours the pain was extremely similar. I didn’t want to believe it was another tumour, as I knew that meant I would have to go to hospital. Normally this isn’t  problem but this particular day Cornwall and most of the UK had severe weather warnings. Many places were under water from burst rivers and torrential rain. Our main road to the hospital had trees down and I knew we would have to go the long way round to even get to A&E. But alas I knew we had to go. Having lost my right ovary from tumour strangulation, and part of my left ovary for the same reason. I knew that if I didn’t catch it in time I would lose the only remaining slither of my left ovary. So your daddy packed me an over night bag and I text my boss to say I was poorly. We bundled into the car, I was in a serious amount of pain, feeling every bump in the road. What normally takes 20 minutes took over an hour but we made it.

Once inside I remember going through all the normal questions and answers. I was being investigated at the time due to an undiagnosed heart condition, so was used to being poked and prodded. After a little while the general consensus was that they would send me for a scan…but…the doctor came back to say…I don’t have a diagnosis for your pain, but you are pregnant. I was curled up in the foetal position on the bed and your daddy’s jaw dropped to the floor. After 8 years and no success we had given up believing that we could have a family and there we were, in the middle of the worst storm Cornwall has seen for years, we were being told that you existed. Wow. Just wow. From that moment it was all about you. You were the one who mattered.

As my stomach burgeoned and I traced my fingers over my belly I could feel your touch from the inside. I have never felt as good about myself than when I was pregnant with you. My body was your home. Everything I did would affect you. I had the most important job in the world. To be the best incubator for you. I was on the top of the world as I watched my body change to make room for you. Whilst I was pregnant with you I had 61 hospital appointments but you were worth every single one. You were worth all the fear and anxiety. You were loved so very dearly from the moment we knew you were there. I don’t think I really believed you were really real until you were placed in my arms.

It really upsets me to know that you will never get to meet your little brother Arthur. You will never get to hold hands, play together, squabble and grow into fine young men together. What I do know is that you share something so special. I know that both of you grew in my body, you have both heard my heart beating from the inside. I missed being pregnant when you were born, I missed having you all to myself, but I loved having you in my arms even more. From the moment I touched you, it was you who mattered. Always you.

I can remember when I woke up in the mornings and I could hear your little voice babbling away. Talking to your little reindeer. I miss that. I really miss that. I miss knowing that you are in the next room. I miss not being able to sneak in and just watch you sleep. I miss waiting until you were in a deep sleep and stroking your silky soft hair. I miss waiting in bed until you woke up, keeping our bed warm, so I could come and collect you. You would come into our bed every morning to start our day with cuddles. I miss talking to you and watching your face light up to the sound of my voice. I miss squidging your little cheeks and your bum. I miss not being able to soothe you and make things right. I just miss you.

But, I also miss what could have been, all the things we had planned but were never able to. As I’ve always said, what are milestones for other families are losses for us. I miss not being able to read you a bedtime story, and I miss your little face, excited for one more book. I miss not being able to teach you the alphabet and to count to ten. I miss not building sand castles with you and playing games. I miss not being able to take the first picture of you in your school uniform. I miss not being able to stick a plaster on your knee when you fell over for the first time. I miss hearing you say ‘mummy, I love you’. I miss you so much. I miss your life.

Today it has been two years since you have been gone. Two whole years, almost double the amount of time you spent here with us. You would be three now, you would be excited about Christmas, you would be such a wonderful little boy. People think that it gets easier to live with losing you over time, this isn’t the case, you know that as I’m sure wherever you may be you see the pain that we endure. It has been two years since I last held you, since I last cuddled you when you were poorly. It has been two years since I lost myself in your beautiful big brown eyes, and it’s been two years since I was blessed with your captivating smile.

This time two years ago I found your lifeless body. This time two years ago I tried in vain so desperately to pump air back into your body, I tried so damn hard. I heard the most devastating and world shattering words anyone can hear, “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone”. From the moment I called the ambulance to the moment you were pronounced dead it was 7 minutes. 7 short minutes but 7 of the longest minutes one can bear. When we eventually saw the ambulance sheet, it said “life extinct”, EXTINCT. Somehow there is more finality to that word than ‘dead’. Extinct – no longer in existence. You were gone. Forever.

In one single moment, my whole world changed. The earth shattering guttural sound that came out of my body is one that I don’t think I could replicate. I felt as though my chest was being crushed by a train, the heaviest and most suffocating weight. Death is tangible. Your death is tangible. It overshadowed any other emotion I have ever felt. It reached deep into my soul and gripped it so tightly. When I lost you, I lost myself. Ever since that moment, I have had to re-build my life, not by choice, but against my will. We did not choose this. We chose you. We gave you life. We gave you everything. And you were taken away. I had to re-learn how to be myself. I had to re-discover who I was. Your daddy and I had to embark on this indescribable journey of survival as two, not three.

What is life after loss? Life after loss is the existence that is left behind when the most significant part of your soul and your self is irreparably changed in one single second. The shell of your former self, that has been forced upon you, not chosen. Until you have children you journey through life quite happily, making choices that will best suit your desires, objectives and needs, but when two become three that changes. Your needs suddenly become the lesser of the two as your life is enveloped by this little person. Overnight you assume responsibility for a person, a little person that is wholly dependent on you; and there is no better feeling.

Simply put, I write this now because of you, the little boy who died. But I am the person I am today because of you, the little boy who lived. Your life eclipses your death, and it does so, because I will always be the person I am today because I was blessed with your life and I will share your life forevermore. You will ALWAYS matter.


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

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Hope

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice
but for those who love, time is eternity.

When I gave birth to Arthur, I looked in his eyes and knew something very special had happened. For months I had been fearing how I could possibly love another child as much as I love William, but those fears were completely unfounded. During my pregnancy with Arthur it took me such a long time to realise that it was okay to love another baby, that it wasn’t betraying William some how. That is was okay to smile again, to laugh again, and to hope again. I know that despite how much I love Arthur, it doesn’t mean that I stop loving William. It’s very strange to feel as though you have a basket of love and to have another child was somehow detracting some of that love from William to give to Arthur, but that is simply not the case. I very quickly realised that I was adding to the basket of love. Nothing, NOTHING will ever stop me loving William, nothing will ever make me not miss him or yearn for him every minute of every day. I know that however much I smile on the outside, there is always a part of me missing.

Very early on I felt that Arthur was a gift, sent from his big brother in Heaven, a message. A message to me from William to say ‘mummy it’s okay, it’s okay to live again.’  There was a time that I wouldn’t have been able to say that. A time where my life wasn’t worth living, a time when my darkest hours were spent in a psychiatric unit for my own safety. I have sunk to the deepest depths of despair, I know what it feels like to not want to live, I know what it feels like to make that decision to end my life. In some kind of strange unparalleled universe, William was the reason I didn’t want my life to continue, to take the same journey that William took, from this earth to Heaven, to be with my baby once again. But it was William that kept me going, it is William’s life that ensured that I kept on with mine, that day by day no matter how slow time passed, I put one very heavy foot in front of the other.

I had to fight for William. Fight for the answers to the reasons about why he died. I had to fight to make sure those reasons were heard, and it still is the reason I fight today to make sure that by sharing William with the world that it doesn’t happen again. It has been an incredibly hard journey thus far. To talk so much and so publicly about William’s death and not just about what happened, but to describe what happened to us, how finding him shattered our lives, to explain to people what it feels like to give your child CPR knowing full well that he had already gone. To share our deepest most traumatic moments with people. But I know that by talking about our darkest moments, sharing William and the little boy who lived, others won’t have to experience what we do. I just cannot believe how much impact William’s short life has had, and I am incredibly proud to call him my son.

Silently and behind closed doors, Paul and I suffer. When the cameras are turned off, the microphones put down, we slowly retreat back to ‘life’. We have become expert at putting a mask on, not necessarily hiding our grief, but not always showing it. This journey has played out so objectively, always seeking to achieve something constructive, there are no ‘buts’ or ‘at least’s’ when your child dies. I know that because William died, many other lives will be saved. I am thankful for every person who sees me on television and doesn’t turn over, I am thankful that every person listens and shares my message. But most of all I am thankful that millions of people have seen my beautiful little boy, I am thankful that my child is a hero, because he is my hero.

After having to live a paralleled life, one that is objective and constructive to achieve change in William’s name we are now able to be subjective again, to love, physically. I have always explained grief to be love with no place to go. When Arthur came along he gave us an outlet for our love, but not only did he do that, he has given us a future again. It has only been recently that I have been able to say and believe when I say it that it is okay to live again. It was very difficult when we found out we were pregnant to believe that we would be able to be happy again.

This is a journey, one that isn’t planned out, we don’t know the next steps. We don’t know how we will feel from one day to the next. It is a path we haven’t chosen. It is path we tread very carefully with a fear of the unknown. But what we do have again is hope. I can honestly say that it is truly isolating to live without hope. It completely robs you of energy, of motivation and depletes any reason you have to live. Hope keeps us going. William kept me going until I found hope again. William gave us hope again and for that I will be forever grateful.


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

My special daddy…

Today is a day that is a day dedicated to Father’s, but daddy every day is a special day that should be dedicated to you.

I know that if I was there, I would have made you a special card, with sticky fingers and lots of mess. I would have made you ginger bread men at nursery, but the little men would have come home with no arms, because I might have eaten them on the way home. Mummy would have told me not too, but I would have done it anyway, you would have loved them without arms anyway, I just know it.

With mummy’s help I would have made you breakfast in bed, but not before having snuggles, and then I would have done some really good jumping up and down on your bed. And because you’re super lucky I would have helped you eat your toast, because that’s my favourite.

But the thing is, I’m not there. But today doesn’t feel any worse than yesterday or tomorrow, maybe slightly more poignant, because we don’t get to wake up together any day and this makes me really sad. But I don’t want you to be sad, because you’re being the best daddy that I could ever wish for. And for every day that we spend apart is one day closer to the day that we’ll be together again. But daddy, you have a really important job to do, you and mummy. I gave you a really special gift, I gave you a little baby, a little brother or sister from me, because you deserve it, you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be able to hold a little baby again and you deserve to love and be loved. Just like we did.

Daddy I really miss you, and I see how upset you are, I see mummy cry and hurt and I see how you look after her. I know how much you worry about her. I know that despite all of your own pain you make sure that she is ok and the little peanut growing inside her belly. I know there will always be something missing from our little family of four, but just know daddy that I follow you around all the time. I never leave your side. I know that your strength comes from me and as you gently put one foot in front of the other, I will hold you. I will quietly slip my little hand into yours and slowly help you forwards.

From my little white fluffy cloud I’m sending you the biggest, squeeziest of all the hugs.

I love you daddy, your little William xxxxx


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

PTSD and me

Today as I stepped out of bed on day 550 without you I looked out of the window for some inspiration. I didn’t find any.

There is no one day easier than another, I am yet to wake up any morning and think, well I don’t miss you as much today. My thoughts are always with you. My tears are all for you. I suspect you can see mummy from the little white fluffy cloud on which you now reside; but I know if you can see your mummy you’ll also know that she can’t help it. I have long since given up thinking that time heals, that one day I’ll come to terms with losing you. Simply, I won’t, how can I?

More than ever I can’t cope with knowing that I couldn’t save you. You didn’t deserve this. You deserved the world. You deserved to be happy. You deserved the chance to live your life how you chose. Your life so cruelly taken away from you by others. Maybe that day they went into work with something on their mind, perhaps they were tired. But you gave your life for their mistakes, there is no bigger sacrifice, and if mummy could she would give everything for you to have breath back in your broken little body.

Sweetheart, I think that some people think that after 550 days I should be functioning better, that I should be capable of getting through a day without breaking down. Or that perhaps I shouldn’t be as vulnerable and fragile as I am. I don’t think anyone will ever understand the path that I tread. It is not a path that anyone else can say they have been on, after all, only I know my pain of losing you. Daddy treads his own path, others tread different paths. But no one treads mummy’s path.

The moment that mummy heard those words ‘I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone’ my life changed irrevocably. There was no going back, no going back to the normal life we had created together. No more cosy morning snuggles, no watching you point your toes and jiggle your little feet when you are excited, no sneaking into your room in the night to stroke your silky soft hair. Mummy used to do that, you probably knew that, but you let me, because you know mummy needed to. What I would do to just hold you one more time.

Some people don’t understand that by the time I have managed to dress myself in the morning, I have already been awake crying for several hours, if I’ve been to sleep at all. Some people don’t understand that some days fast movement, lots of noise or colour gives me a sensory overload. Trying to explain to someone why I’m so hypersensitive is virtually impossible, let alone trying to explain how the flashbacks cripple me. You see people don’t understand PTSD, people think I should stop thinking about it. How can I? Could they? I don’t think so, not if they had witnessed losing you. I can’t stop thinking about it, I don’t have a choice. PTSD isn’t simply a memory recollection, something you can summon and then change to think about something completely different. When my brain decides, I will re-live the moment that I found you again. Frozen in bed, not being able to move, paralysed by fear, in my mind, you are next door, in your cot, passed away. Somehow the light, the sounds, the smells are the same. It is that morning again. I can’t remember how many hours I sat cross-legged on your floor, hands tightly gripping the bars of your cot, head pressed against the bars so hard there were two lines on my forehead, staring, my eyes pleading with the spot where you took your last breath, pleading for you to not be there, not like that, not again. I think it took 6 hours for my brain to realise that you weren’t there. For those 6 hours in my mind I had been staring at your broken little body. But of course you weren’t there. Try telling my mind that. It is like being trapped in a nightmare, not able to wake up because of course you are already awake. Being suffocated by the nightmare as you have no idea that it isn’t real or that it isn’t really happening again.

PTSD is so debilitating. I don’t get a choice, I can’t just not think about ‘it’. The trauma of losing you so vivid, mummy is forced to re-live losing you all over again, I can’t help it. It’s not just a memory, it’s not something that I can distract myself from. It is not something that I can explain to people unless of course they have experienced it. They do not understand that one minute you are seemingly ok and confident to the next minute being scared to exist in what is a co-dependent bubble. And when it strikes it is like having a wound re-opened, and left constantly open. Social situations are a no go area, draining, emotionally exhausting, overwhelming, frozen and incapable of functioning. In a nutshell PTSD is not being able to differentiate in your mind the past, the present and the future.

I wish people would be patient, I wish people would not judge. I wish I didn’t have to keep justifying how and why I feel like I’m in a sinking abyss. No one will ever understand the pain of losing you, a life sentence, one that will not be over until I take my last breath and we are together again.

You will never know sweetheart how much mummy needs you. You changed my life, mummy is so blessed that you picked me. I sit here looking at your photo’s, your captivating smile, your sparkling eyes coming alive from every photo. You probably see mummy touch your photos, hoping that she can feel you chubby soft skin once more; but I never will. I remember the last time I ever held you. I traced every inch of your little body with my finger, my eyes closed, assigning every little fold and crease to memory. Even then, twenty days after you had passed away you were still perfect. God, mummy misses you so much. People just don’t get it. It just does not get easier.

So, my message to the lovely people who I encounter every day in my life, please don’t judge, don’t criticise, be patient, be calm, be respectful and most of all, give me time. I estimate it will take a lifetime.


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

Dearest William…

I hope you are ok? Mummy is missing you so much. Mummy is finding it so hard at the moment, it’s so hard to live without you. It has been 15 short months since you went to live in your new home. 15 months is longer than you lived for. 15 months isn’t very long in the context of a lifetime, well not mine at least. 15 months is long enough, what is 15 years going to feel like, or 50. I hope by then I’m with you. I hate this sweetheart I really do. I can’t remember the last time I was happy. The last time I really laughed so hard. I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t have a care in the world.

Losing you is the hardest fight that I will ever have to face, and it is a fight. The constant urge of wanting and needing to give in is prevalent. I am but one breath from being with you, but that feels like a lifetime away, well it is a lifetime. It is probably a good job that we don’t have on/off switches. I would have flicked that switch a long time ago, to end this part of my life in purgatory, and to spend the rest of my time, with you. Only with you. Well not just with you, but the two other little children, who sadly, mummy didn’t get to give birth to. See, you were so special, the little one that made it. I was honoured to share my birthday with you. You couldn’t get a more perfect gift than you.

You changed my life, you changed me as a person, you see I don’t think people realise quite how much. Before you arrived I had resigned myself to a life with no children. Growing up I was fiercely independent, I knew my mind and where I wanted to be. I grew up very quickly and left my childhood behind. Nanny and grandad worked so much, every day in fact, so I spent a lot of time with your great nanny, and auntie Joyce. But I learnt how to look after myself, I worked hard as soon as I was old enough, I did well at school, but I always did my own thing. I was the only one who really exerted control over me. When I was told at 11 years old that it was unlikely I would have my own children, I planned around it, I never grew up playing with dolls or talking about children. Even nanny and grandad didn’t think I was maternal at all, throughout my pregnancy I worried I wouldn’t be good enough, I worried that I wouldn’t know what to do, and I worried that I wouldn’t be a good mum. I remember being in labour and I said to daddy “what happens if I don’t love him, what happens if he doesn’t love me?” Daddy assured me that would never happen. Daddy was right (don’t tell him I said that), for once I have no problem standing on the tallest building and shouting, your daddy was right. My goodness I have never loved anyone or anything as much as I love you, and you loved me.

I knew how special you were, I knew then. I know now. I will always know. You were the one that allowed me to lessen the grip I held on myself, you allowed me to live with more freedom, allowing myself breathing space. You taught me there was more to life than working 24/7, you taught me that it didn’t matter if filing wasn’t done the moment the bills came through the door, you taught me that it didn’t matter if the washing didn’t get done, if the dinner wasn’t on the table at 6. I had spent the day encapsulated in our bubble of love. That is the power of love. A total force of nature. You taught me to be selfless, to be patient, to be compassionate, to love with no expectations. You taught me how to live. I owe my life to you. I owe everything to you. I gave you everything I have.

Being separated from you has ignited sheer desperation, a yearning and need that I cannot fulfill, manifesting itself as pain. The price I will pay for the rest of my life for loving you so much. That pain will only increase as the love intensifies and the ache in my arms becomes heavier. At the moment I’m not living peacefully, you probably know. You can probably see my struggle. The tears, the sleepless nights, the nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations. You probably know that I’m not working. The visions of your broken little body now not just thoughts but tricks of my mind. I don’t like it. I can’t help it, your broken little body can appear on the windowsill as I’m sat in the office working, reflections in the mirror as I look at myself, or like the other night, I woke screaming, sweating, having had your little hand drop on mine, but not your plump, dimpled little hand that I used to hold but your stiff, cold hand, the entirely different hand that I saw after you had died. Why do I experience this, I don’t know. As much as I have experienced your waking moments, I also experienced your dying ones too. I experienced your death, and as much as your little life made the biggest impact on my life, your death did to. Your life happened, but so did your death.

What am I supposed to do without you? How am I supposed to live without you? All I want to do is come home, but I am ‘home’ but I’m not, my home is with you. We should have been making memories today, you would have been making me a card at nursery, you should have been here to see me open it, and help me eat my breakfast in bed that you and daddy made. We should have gone out and filled our day with more of those infectious smiles and laughed until our cheeks hurt, making memories. I should have heard you say ‘mummy I love you’ I should have been able to say, thank you sweetheart, I love you too. But I can’t, instead I’m sat in bed looking out of the window. I can see white smoke from the chimney across the road, make its way into the dark dusky sky, wishing I was a free spirit like the smoke, making its way into the atmosphere. I just want to be free again, but until we are together again, I know I never will be. I live everyday with the guilt, guilt that I couldn’t protect you, that somehow I didn’t do enough to save you. I hope you don’t blame mummy as much as she blames herself. The thought of letting you down, leaves me barely able to live with myself, but Daddy is doing his best to look after mummy’s broken soul.

William you allowed me to see life through different eyes, you allowed me to open my eyes and experience LIFE. William, you gave me love, a love that I didn’t know existed, you gave me love that was beyond my imagination. William, you made me a mummy, you made me your mummy, thank you. Thank you for picking me. It will always be you.

As another day draws to a close without you, another mother’s day without you, one more day closer to you. I look up to the night sky and like every other evening I say to you, goodnight sweetheart, I love you. Your mummy xxx


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead