Our last moments

Our first moments xx

Our first moments xx

I walk towards the window at the bottom of the stairs, and as I make my way up the stairs, step number one, step number two….step number fourteen, I reach the landing opposite your bedroom and close the curtains. I make sure the bathroom blind is closed and mummy and daddy’s curtains are closed to, then I’m ready, with upstairs plunged into darkness I make my way into your bedroom, but instead of laying you down to zip you into your sleeping bag, I make my way to your window. I imagine myself stood here holding a very tired little William, sucking your thumb with your head snug into mummy’s neck, I close my eyes now and inhale, I can smell you, knowing that sweet strawberry cosy warmth, a scent I will never forget. A scent that lingers on in everything you touched. A scent that still smothers the last jumper I ever cuddled you in. A jumper that still hangs on the bottom of my bed. Not only is this the jumper that you snuggled into when you were so poorly that day, but it is the jumper that I wore to pick your cold, lifeless body up at the hospital. A jumper I knew that you loved, a jumper that you found comforting. It seemed only right that I wear this jumper to cuddle you in when I visited you.

As I walked through that door, I always knew what to expect but I broke, I broke every time, seeing your tiny little body lying in the blanket with your little teddy. It was wrong, it was so wrong. Nothing could ever possibly soften the impact of seeing you that way. Regardless, I visited everyday. I remember visiting you before you went on your trip to Birmingham for your post-mortem. I visited you with 3 friends, I opened the door, I saw you again, my legs buckled, I cried out and crawled towards the hospital gurney. I pulled myself up so my head was level with yours, I caught my breath, I stroked your hair and kissed your beautiful skin, I slowly pulled back the sheet, to wrap you in the blanket mummy would cuddle you in. The bruises so purple, so vivid, an awful reminder of the minutes mummy tried in vain to save your life with CPR. CPR that I can remember so clearly as if it’s happening now. The ambulance call handler, reciting ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, rescue breath 1…..rescue breath 2….. and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4’ I can remember her voice, I can remember the phone and I can remember the struggle it was to open your mouth to give you rescue breaths, rigor mortis having already taken you away, but we carried on, we tried, we tried with everything we could possibly give it. I would still be doing it now if I thought it would give me one more minute with you. Your gaze was fixed on the ceiling, your eyes were glazed over and your little soul had gone. My beautiful little William had taken flight. You were already gone. Mummy tried so hard, and when the paramedics ran up the stairs, I screamed ‘PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO SOMETHING’, they tried to sweetheart, but there was nothing they could do. As I stood behind one paramedic he turned to me and said ‘I’m sorry my love but he’s gone’. Gone. You were gone.

I think another paramedic caught me as I fell backwards down the stairs, I remember daddy ringing nanny but I can’t remember anything other than screaming, wailing, a sound was coming out of me that I didn’t even knew existed. The paramedics suggested it wouldn’t be a good idea to come in your room, but no, I needed to be with you. You were still in the same position as you had been minutes earlier. I laid down on the floor, my head next to your head, my cheek on your cheek. My hand on your other cheek holding you as close as I could possibly get. I begged, I was begging you, ‘please wake up, sweetheart please wake up, William, please’ but you didn’t, you were gone. There was nothing I could do. The paramedics offered to carry you out, but no, that was my job. I wrapped you in your favourite blanket and I picked you up, and I cradled you in my arms, so close, your head resting on my chest. I walked slowly down the stairs, one by one, drinking in your beautiful face, feeling the weight of you in my arms, knowing these last precious moments would be the last moments you would be in your home, as a little person. I sat on the sofa, waiting, looking in your eyes, broken. Knowing less than 24 hours earlier I had cradled you in this very same spot, willing you to feel better, willing mummy to be able to take your discomfort away. Now, I was sat here, you were in my arms, but you were dead. Daddy could barely look at us, stood in front of us, he didn’t know where to look. Then they told us it was time to go.

I carried you out, I carried you down the front steps, I walked onto the pavement to the ambulance that was parked in the middle of the road. I looked to see a queue of traffic, stuck, not being able to pass the ambulance that arrived to save your life, but would now be carrying your body to hospital. I climbed in, I held you, I cuddled you, I talked to you, cuddled you, kissed you and I waited, for what I’m not sure. The rest of the day was awful, I remember filling the corridor of A&E with the gut wrenching sound of my crying, I remember refusing to hand you over, I would take you every step of the way that I possibly could. I walked with you, looking into your eyes, those eyes. No-one else existed, it was just you and me baby, as the door opened I walked down the main trunk corridor of the hospital, your family following, people noticing, tapping in to the grief they could see that was written all over my face; and then we were there. It was time. The man came out from behind the double doors. I stood there, everyone silent, and I knew this was it, this would be the last time that you were really mine. I gently passed you to the mortician. He stood there as I watched. I did not move, I wouldn’t leave. He had to be the first to leave. As he turned, I broke, I could no longer see you, the doors opened and swung shut. That was it. You were gone. I was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I knew at that point I had to see you again, I had to touch you, hold you, cuddle you, kiss you.

So, as I peeled back those blankets and I saw your bruised belly I was reminded of the day before, less than 24 hours ago, when I had tried in vain to somehow give you my life. Mummy mode took over, I wrapped you in your favourite blanket around your heavy, cold and limp body, I picked you up, I sat on the chairs and I held you so close. Those people who were there to visit you were no longer in my peripheral vision, it was just me and you baby. I talked to you, I explained how mummy didn’t understand, I explained how mummy felt, I talked about the journey we should have been on that day, on board a ferry on our way to Spain to visit nanny and grandad for Christmas. Instead I was laid here cradling you in my arms, your tiny palm on my cheek, your other finger’s entwined with mine, I could feel the warmth of my body warming you through. I could see my tears flow down your cheeks. I could hear their tears, my friends, I could hear their pain, knowing this would be the last time they saw you. The last time they had seen you alive was your 1st birthday.

An hour, that’s how long I was able to hold you that day. As I prepared to say goodbye until tomorrow I placed you back on the bed, wrapped you in your blanket and tucked your teddy in tight. I walked out of the room backwards. Knowing I was leaving you behind. Knowing I couldn’t take you with me. I was crushed. The door closed and the click of the lock signified a dimension between us. I broke, I fell, I cried, I wailed, without you baby I was nothing then and I’m nothing now; as I stand at your window I look at the sky hoping that somehow I might feel your presence, but I don’t. I know you’re gone. I know that when I close your curtains, you will not be there. I know that as I lay my head on my pillow you will not be in the next room.  My only hope is that as I close my eyes at the end of each day, I open them and I’m with you.

 

Are you dealing with depression?

I have just typed ‘depression’ into the Google (UK) search engine to see what the definition is according to the official Oxford Dictionary. It wasn’t until page 4 that I found it: “A mental condition characterised by severe feelings of despondency and dejection, typically with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep”. People, me included rarely reach page 4 of the search engine. Our impatience and need for information sees us settling for an answer on the first page, even if it isn’t the answer that we are looking for, we make it fit. Those of us searching for depression looking for information or self-help on the internet more often than not find it on the first page. Especially with a very general term like ‘depression’. It remains to be seen whether the answer we are really looking for is on the first page, we operate under the same veil, we accept what we read, less than 10% of people advance onto page 2 of Google, like they say ‘when the glove fits…’

So what information did I glean from the first page? Well, there are links to the NHS website, several large charities and a self-help website. If you had any doubt before starting your search whether or not you are depressed, you will diagnose yourself after the first few excerpts. Who of us doesn’t suffer with low moods? Who of us doesn’t experience stress at work? Who of us doesn’t have periods of time when you feel tired or you can’t be bothered to go out? I would guess, and it’s only a guess that a large proportion of the population at some time in their lives experience these symptoms. So does that mean we are all depressed? Feeling low maybe, a little worried or anxious about something, but would you be concerned enough to visit your doctor thinking you are suffering with depression?

Whichever website you read, on as many pages you can bear to scroll through, the common denominator is that depression is a mental health condition. How a person behaves, how a person reacts to certain information and situations, what threshold a person has to cope in different situations, their thoughts, feelings and sense of well-being. Not only can these factors alter when a person is depressed, these factors can alter, resulting in depression. A condition that cannot be seen, a condition that is judged, a condition that people loosely use ‘oh, I am sooo depressed’. It is a condition that is very personal. Unique to the person that it is plaguing, treatment varies from person to person, antidepressants might suit one person but another might need a more holistic approach. Some don’t talk and suffer in silence. One thing for sure is that for those suffering with depression, hearing the words ‘snap out of it’, ‘you just need to do something to get over it’, ‘think more positively’ amongst other things, is not only ignorant it is very hurtful.

I am grieving, does that mean I am depressed? Initially probably not, as I succumbed to shock, numbness, anger and denial, you ride on the crest of a wave of grief, and as the wave breaks you come crashing down. At this point reality sets in, I am left to resume what my life is now, having to live life on life’s terms not my own. The pain of being left behind by someone I can’t live without. My natural reaction to grief persists, and will do until my last breath, but depression loiters, how can it not. Do I feel low? Yes. Do I have an aversion to going out or doing things? Yes. Do I feel hopeless, helpless and useless? Yes. Do I feel guilty? Yes. And the worst feeling of all, do I feel suicidal? Yes. These are some of the reasons I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Reluctant at first to diagnose any medical condition, after all, a mother is likely to react in such a way to losing their only child, but I have progressively sunken lower. I function, but emotionally and mentally I’m stuck in a washing machine on a never-ending spin cycle.

Do I suffer with anxiety? Yes. Do I suffer with PTSD? Yes. Do I suffer with insomnia? Yes. I have never been familiar with these conditions, let alone experience them. So this is new to me. Do people understand why? Yes. And I find myself thinking, well my baby died, my beautiful little boy died and I found him, the way I feel is totally justified. But why do I think this. I think this because unless people know what your story is they judge you. Stood behind me in the queue in the supermarket they whisper ‘you’d think she’d brush her hair before going out’, but what they don’t realise is that going out is a major feat on its own, being in an environment where there a smiling, happy toddlers, my mind constantly trying to process what William would be doing in that moment. Would he be running off up the aisle, giggling? Probably. Would the cashier lady comment about how cute he is? Definitely. Would I struggle to juggle my keys, purse, shopping bags and wriggly toddler all the way to the car? Absolutely. So no, I didn’t make sure my hair was neat, because when I got out the house the last thing I thought about was brushing my hair. I got in the car and looked in the rear view mirror at William’s empty car seat, and drove past his nursery on my way to the supermarket. The last thing I was thinking about was the way my hair looked.

My message here? Don’t judge people. When you bump in to someone in the street and they’re in a dream world and they don’t apologise. Don’t think they’re rude, that could have been me walking down the street after visiting my son in the chapel of rest. When you are sitting in a cafe having a coffee and the person on the table next to you is moody, and has a face like thunder. Don’t tell them to ‘smile love, it can’t be that bad’ that actually was me, I was waiting for my grief counsellor. And when you’re stood behind someone in the supermarket whose hair isn’t as neat as you’d expect and you think they’re scruffy. Don’t judge. That was me. If you knew why, would you think the same? Would you judge me as you had done 5 minutes earlier? No.

Depression in all its form’s, largely isn’t visible. Just because we don’t walk around on crutches with a limp doesn’t mean we aren’t suffering. Don’t make assumptions about people, be kind to people, be understanding and compassionate in all that you do. Life is too short in comparison to the length of death.