Sister Bridgett talked to me all the way and telling me what a beautiful and special girl Eloise was. The memories we had, needed to be cherished and she said that we must spend time with her and take as many photos as possible. So many people spend the time with their child, but it is so short that the memories are just not enough. However painful, however stressful, however heartbreaking we must do this for her. We would take photos and however painful it may be we must enjoy every single second with our girl.
We had decided that we wanted to see her now and in the morning, so we could say our final goodbyes, before she is taken by the funeral home. I lead Eloise into our room with sister Bridget pushing her. S was with the family and we asked them to leave briefly while we met Eloise together for the first time. S was still drowsy from the drugs but, the minute she caught my eye and knew that this was the time she was going to meet her daughter for the first time, her eyes lit up. It took my breath away and I wished so hard that it was under normal circumstances. She pushed her self up the bed which seeing how she moved afterwards, must have been so very painful, but there was no pain on her face. Sister Bridgett wheeled Eloise round to the side of the bed where S could see her and I could hold her.
Sister Bridgett then unwrapped Eloise and showed us our beautiful baby girl. S and I just squeezed each others hands tightly and had tears streaming down our faces. She was beautiful. She had S’s nose and shape of face, My black hair and chin. Sister Bridgett carefully unwrapped her and asked us if we would like to hold her. We both knew that we wanted to, but that it was going to be excruciatingly painful. As I was standing Sister Bridgett placed Eloise in my arms. She was so small and precious. I didn’t want to hold her wrong or hurt her in any way. I know from holding babies in the past, to support her head, it was so small that she fitted into the crook of my elbow.
It felt wonderful holding my baby girl but I so wished it was in normal circumstances. It felt like she was sleeping and I was so careful with her, as I didn’t want to wake her. That sounds absurd, but she had her eyes closed and was warm with her hands pulled up close to her neck. She looked peaceful. Her smell was wonderful. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and thoughts were rushing through my head. Tears were streaming and I was trying to take everything, that was happening to us, in. Why are we going through this? Why has this happened to our baby girl? How are we going to get through this? Are we going to get through this? Is this our only chance of parenthood? I couldn’t stop the thoughts but I didn’t have the answers! I cherished every moment holding her and took her closer to S, so she could see her and touch her.
S had tears streaming down her face, but was also transfixed on Eloise. I asked her if she was ready to hold her baby girl. I could see that she was so nervous, but wanted to so much. I turned Eloise around very carefully and placed her in S’s arms and resting on her chest. She was so emotional and it hit me hard. This was the time that she was holding her baby for the first time, this was the time most parents cry with joy that their baby was finally here safe and well.
We are not normal parents and were meeting our baby girl in the worst circumstances, she should be with us, healthy and happy. We should be overwhelmed with joy and excited for our future, all 3 of us together.
We then just looked at each other and I put my arm around S and gave her a big squeeze and hug. We just looked at Eloise and took in what was happening to us. We then started looking at her in detail and saw her flat feet (from me) and black hair. Her tiny little hands and fingers, her cute button nose, her skinny ankles and calf’s. She would have had beautiful features and would have been a very pretty girl when she grew up. We both had tears in our eyes and I could see S was trying to take as much in as possible. We knew we only had a short time with her before she went and we wanted to see her again in the morning.
Her smell was infectious and S and I just took it in. I will remember it forever, we both will. We started to unwrap her from her receiving blanket. She was a pinky colour and still warm to touch. We looked at her in detail to try to understand and see if there was anything else that we could see that was associated to her translocated chromosomes. Her ears were very low set and her head already very large from her hydrocephalus but, otherwise, she was perfect. Every elbow, knee, ankle and wrist were all perfect. This was very hard as we were desperately looking for an answer to why this happened and if she would have had a slightly normal life. The low set ears meant she would have been severely mentally challenged and with her hydrocephalus, she wouldn’t have had any quality of life. Then and there we knew beyond doubt, that we had done the right thing.
We then swaddled her back up in her receiving blanket so she would continue to be warm and so the blanket would be covered in her wonderful smell. We also decided that if the family wanted to come and see her then they could. S and I were holding up for Eloise and wanted to take in every moment we had with her. I wanted to just break down and cry but she gave me the strength to carry on. I could feel it in my heart that she was giving me the strength to support her Mommy. If I had broken down then I know S would have too, I had to hold strong for them both. Our time was limited with her and we needed to remember very minute, every memory. We took some photos of her and then I invited the family in to meet their granddaughter and niece.
They were waiting outside the room, I left Eloise in S’s arms and then went and got them. When they came in S was sat up in her bed, holding her baby. This is normally the time when there are big smiles and joyous celebrations. The atmosphere was not like that. I could see how proud S was that this was her baby and she wanted so bad for it all to be normal. Her mum and sister came around the bed to her and lots of tears were shed. I don’t know what they were expecting but it was extremely hard to take for all and lots of tears were shed. Her mum gave her a big kiss and S introduced her granddaughter to her.
They couldn’t believe how small but perfect that she was. She looked like she was sleeping with her eyes sealed shut. It was difficult to put words together and it was small observations from everyone on what she was like. I was proud she was ours. She had so much spirit when she was in S’s tummy. When I read her Winnie the Pooh, she would move and kick, to show how much she enjoyed it. When she was in the bath and we were splashing her, she gave us kicks to say she was playing. When I talked to her she recognised my voice. She had a character and she proved she was stubborn too.
If only she was here and we could all see that Character grow up, it would have been beautiful. She would never have been messed with at school, she would have been the leader of all her friends and would have been the bossy one. These thoughts kept running through my mind and I so wanted things to be different. Whether it was the shock of the scenario we were going through, the hopes and dreams we have for our children, being shattered, I don’t know. It was just a time that I couldn’t change and thoughts that I couldn’t stop.
We showed the family all of our observations of her, and they could see all the likenesses of us in her. We could see it was a very hard time for them all and I thank them for being there. It must have been very difficult but they all wanted to meet her and support us through this unbelievably hard time. We took some more photos and I could see that S was getting very tired. I think the major surgery, the emotional pain and physical pain were all taking their toll on my beautiful wife. I could see that the sister thought so too. We had had over 30 mins with our daughter and decided to put her to bed with her teddy.
Like any new parent we didn’t want her to be alone and had brought her a teddy from home, to sleep with over night and to go with her to the funeral home and then to be cremated with her. She was swaddled with her teddy and they were face to face for the night. We had slept with the teddy for a few nights prior to her birth, so we knew that our smell was on the teddy and we wanted her to feel comfort in that. We would be with her tonight and always, wherever she may be. We wanted her to be comforted, knowing that she was loved so much and that her mummy and daddy would always be with her in spirit.
She gave us so much in such a short space of time. She made us parents, and now we were parents of an Angel. She was the most special girl and we will never ever forget her. We wanted her to be comfortable like any new parents and wanted her to have a good nights sleep. That sounds absurd i know, but we wanted to know that she was safe and making her way to heaven. We wanted her to know we loved her and that we were still keeping her safe.
Sister Bridgett helped us swaddle her with her teddy and then took some photos of her for us. She was amazing in the way she took gentle care with her and was so respectful of all our wishes. I can’t believe how hard it must be for all the staff, as they come to work to see new life and babies being born. Seeing happy overjoyed parents, helping new parents with their babies and teaching them what to do before they go home with their bundles of joy. You always think of the positive side of being a labour nurse or sister. She was now going to go home having been with us and seeing our grief. It must be very hard on them, especially to them come back again the next morning to the labour ward and normality!
S and I told Sister Bridgett that we wanted to see her in the morning again, when we had both had time to reflect and to prepare her to go to the funeral home. We wanted more time with her for photo’s, to say our goodbyes as a family of 3 that we now were, all the while knowing how hard it would be never to hold her and touch her again after that. We wanted as many memories as possible, her smell, pictures, her blanket (we had another to wrap her in to keep her warm and send her off with) her hand and footprints. We also wanted to try to come to terms with what had happened and to give her a fitting goodbye from both her mommy and daddy. We gave her kisses goodnight and told her we would see her tomorrow and to sleep well.
It was so hard giving her back to Sister Brigett, I just wanted to hold her all night long and tell her how much we loved her. I wanted to be the same as normal fathers, going to change her nappy and feed her in the middle of the night. I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t but I still had this overwhelming feeling that I wish I could. I handed her to Sister Bridgett who put her back into the basket. We both gave her a final kiss and she took her out of the room and to bed. I looked at S and we both just broke down in tears, I flung my arms around her and we just hugged. I kissed her and told her how much I loved her and that we would see our beautiful girl again tomorrow.
S was being so brave and I was so proud, I loved her so so much and she was now the mother of my child. This experience could break some people and marriages but I just knew that we were in it together and our love for each other was so strong that we would get through it and be even stronger. I could feel Eloise telling me to be there for her Mommy and to do everything and anything she wanted. She gave me the strength and stamina. I could see S was in a lot of pain and she needed to rest.
Dr Baker came around to see how she was doing. He asked the family to leave the room. He was so good and so empathetic, he was in this with us all the way and you could tell he would be after as well. He told us that she didn’t suffer and that was the most important thing. He looked after S and had arranged the room in the surgical ward to make things as comfortable as possible. S took great comfort in his words and she was very emotional. He then left us and the family talked to him outside privately. I think they were also looking for answers and reassurance, which I can understand.
S and I then were on our own and we realised we had a long night ahead. The family popped back in to say their goodbyes before heading home. They gave us their love and were going to look after the dogs for us. I was going to stay the night with S and do anything that she needed of me. We were in this together and anything that I could do, I would do. We chatted and talked for another 20-30mins. We tried to reflect on everything as much as we could. S needed the pain relief and I could see it was making her very tired and sleepy. She was fighting it as she just wanted to talk about our Eloise and make sure she was safe and didn’t suffer. I gave her the reassurance she needed and then let her fall asleep. My beautiful wife needed to get better her self after major surgery. I needed her and Eloise needed her.
Again I could feel Eloise with us. It wasn’t just us in the room and I could still smell her. It was a surreal feeling and it was as if she was also watching us and listening to us. She was sending us her love, she knew that we needed it. Our pain was great but our love for her was greater. S fell asleep and I kissed her goodnight, told her I was there whatever she needed. She gave me a nod and squeezed my hand with her eyes closed. She blew me a kiss and went to sleep. I was now on my own, I felt that I needed to put my memories to paper and so here we are. I sat writing for about 2hours, remembering every little thing I could. I knew S wouldn’t remember it all, so this is as much for her, so she can understand what happened.
Nurses came in and out every 30 mins or so to check S’s vitals and make sure she was ok and comfortable. They brought me a chair to sleep on. I just kept writing and putting down all my thoughts and feelings. I have never written before like this and it is just an overwhelming feeling putting your thoughts and emotions down. Lots of tears were shed while writing and thankfully ipads are wipe clean!
I kept talking to Eloise which I am sure sounds mad. I felt she was there, so I kept reassuring her and thanking her for everything that she gave us. I was and will always be her daddy. I want to make her proud, whether she was here, or looking from above. I felt she needed it and I needed to communicate with her. I had a bond and wanted to keep it going. I felt like she was and always would be looking over us. She was small and only a baby, yet I felt like she now had this overwhelming power and that she can look after us both. She is our Angel, our special amazing girl. We wished she could be with us but understand she was needed elsewhere. She had such a short time with us, yet I feel like I have known her forever. She will always be with us whatever and wherever we go.
As I complete this on her due date of 12th March, I can tell you that she gave us so many memories and continues to give us so very much. I know she will always be with us and when we need to see a sign, if we are having a tough day, she is alway there with something to give us reassurance. Some of the things she has done, are amazing and continue to amaze me. We have one extremely special girl and I am so proud to say that she is mine. I miss you with all my heart Eloise and so wish you could be with us. I know you are with us in spirit my girl and take great reassurance from that. I now know and understand the greater influence that you have and I see the plan. It was so tough letting you go and I tried everything and spoke to everyone that I could for you, but I know you know that and, you have shown us beyond doubt that both you and God forgive us our decision.
You are one in a million and I cannot wait to meet you one day. You have made me such a great person and I am so so proud of everything you do. I hope I will make you proud to be my daughter, I am sure you are impacting on thousands of lives as an Angel. You have impacted so much on your Mommy and Daddy, words cannot even express how much. We will always be there for you. We would love to have you come back to us if it ever possible, otherwise we know you are waiting for us and that we will all be together one day.
We love you always and forever and will always send you our love and thoughts. I hope you know how much you are missed and loved.
Love you forever My Angel Eloise,
x x x x x x