Holding out for a hero

About 20 years ago, I tried to save the life of a cat.

I was driving along the notoriously busy Stifford Road, in my hometown of Aveley, when the car in front of me hit a cat.

BANG, the cat was down & the car sped off.

“STOP THE CAR” I screamed at my boyfriend and as he swerved onto the kerb, I jumped out of the car and ran into the road.

I knew I had just moments to save the beautiful, black cat, lying in the road, shrieking in agony.

As I frantically waved my arms, standing in the middle of very busy, Friday night traffic, with my boyfriend screaming “GET OUT OF THE ROAD”, all I knew at that moment was that I had to stop the cars, get the cat out of the road and to a vet, to give it a chance to survive.

Then in one final moment, as I shouted “STOP” a sleek looking jag came screaming towards me. My boyfriend pulled me out of the way, the car drove straight over the cat and it was game over.

I was inconsolable.

As I sobbed into my boyfriends shoulder, him angry with me for being so reckless, he said one thing that now means everything,

“you tried babe”

I did try. He was right. As much as I regret not being able to save that cat, it does make me feel better that I did something. If I’d just driven past and not bothered, I think that would haunt me.

Would you?

Would you have done what I did and jumped into the road to try and save the cat?

There are many stories of people putting themselves at risk to save others. Stories of instinct taking over when lives are at risk. Adults jumping into freezing cold rivers to save a drowning dog. Friends jumping into stormy seas to save a friend. Stories of heroics and people TRYING to do the right thing. Even if it doesn’t work, human nature is to help others in need and try, right?

hero

Well, not always. Sadly, tragically, horrifically, not in the case of my baby boy.

Yesterday, we received a letter from the GMC.

They attached a letter from Mr X. The consultant who was supposed to have been looking after me and Elijah.

Firstly, he expresses his condolences and his understanding of what disappointment we must be feeling.

Yes, that’s right. Disappointment.

Yesterday morning, I told my very excited 3 year old that we would take the car through a car wash machine. We happily drove to the garage to find it not working and being repaired.

THAT was disappointing.

When I open the fridge to find the last Twix has been eaten by my husband

THAT is disappointing.

The death of my child….well, lets just say that “disappointing” doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

He then denies all knowledge of what happened on that day and lays the blame firmly on the shoulders of the midwives and the middle-grade doctors. He didn’t know I was in labour, he didn’t know I was bleeding. he thought my pregnancy was trouble free and so on and so forth.

Then, in his own words, at the moment Elijahs little heart couldn’t take any more and was taking its final beats, he describes being told by labour ward staff that we were in theatre, we were an emergency and to run.

RUN

So, at that moment, did he jump in like a man saving his drowning dog? Did he run to save Elijah, like I ran to save that cat?

No.

He took a back lift, not the fast lift and went to change his clothes.

What a true, all male, all muscles, Last Action Hero he is.

It’s just not the done thing to be seen in blue scrubs when everyone around you is wearing red, darling. No, I’m not kidding. As my boy was dying, he was changing the colour of his scrubs.

So, I asked before and I’ll ask again, would you have tried to save the Stifford Road Cat?

Would he?

I think you & I both know the answer to that.

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Just keep climbing

Today, as I cuddled the most beautiful newborn baby girl, my friends and I chatted about Elijah and grief and what it takes to move on.

I’ve been very determined to make sure Gabriel (my 3 year old) has the best Christmas, with lots of fun and laughter.

However, I’ve been feeling low since New Years Eve, wondering if I was deluding myself by trying to face these difficult days with hope and joy.

Am I letting Elijah down?

Should I be inconsolable? Keep the curtains drawn and the mood more somber?

So we talked about that and how hard it is being hopeful after tragedy. Let me just say, it’s not the easy option. Every day I climb my own personal Everest to keep my family functioning.

I’ve been asking myself, why do I do that? The answer, I do it for Gabriel. One of my friends said “What you went through, losing your innocent baby, is the worst thing in the world that I could imagine”. Now, for me, it isn’t. All my fears now centre around Gabriel. The worst thing imaginable for me, is that he one day, perhaps when he’s in his twenties, turns round to me and says “all you did is cry Mum. It was like I wasn’t even there. I had the worst childhood”. I feel as though I’ve lost so much already and I don’t want to lose him too. Him being alive and not wanting to know me because I “checked out” is my greatest fear.

After my friends left, Gabriel came creeping up to me, with an outstretched arm and clenched fist.

“What have you got there sweetie” I asked. “Shhhhhh” he demanded “it’s sleeping”. He uncurled his hand to reveal a tiny, little piece of black fluff. “It’s a baby. I found it” he whispered. “Babies are nice mummy” and off he ran to put “baby fluff” under his pillow.

That, right there, is hope and joy and why I climb, climb, climb every single day.

My Bucks Fizz Birthday

You’re probably thinking “oooh lucky girl, birthday bubbles!”

Nil points. I don’t mean the bubble variety. I actually mean the 80’s, Eurovision winning, pop group variety.

Today, I’m spending my birthday doing what Bobby G, Cheryl, Jay and Mike made famous in 1981 skirt ripping style.

I’m having a “Making Your Mind Up” birthday!

I bet you’re singing it right now 🙂

Earlier today, my husband presented me with this for my birthday,

Who knew he was good at Origami!

Three handmade boxes.

I had to open them in a particular order and the instruction was “you can open each box, but you only get to keep one”.

Intriguing!

This was in the first box..

A great first box!

This was in the second..

Never wear? Doubtful!

and the third..

BINGO…apart from the small print

So I guess you’re thinking the choice is obvious.

Is it?

My head might be screaming this..

or this..

but my heart is screaming this..

I have until midnight to “make my mind up”.

My friend Clare is with me on the designer boots but Rekha told me she’d disown me if I didn’t go for the holiday 🙂

What would you do?

It’s definitely been an exciting and distracting gift for a birthday that I’ve been dreading. On Thursday, Tim had to stay home from work because I couldn’t stop crying. After I opened the boxes, Tim put his arms around me and said “I know I can’t give you what you really want for your birthday darling, but I can give you one of these”.

Of course it’s not good enough. I know that. Only red hair, chubby fingers and gurgling can ever be, but when I look back on this birthday, my first birthday without my baby boy, I’ll try not to think about what should have been. I’ll think about all the good things that have happened today and I’ll smile when I remember those little green boxes while I stroke my Jimmy Choo boots.

Sweet child of mine

Earlier today, my almost 3 year old, switched off the game he was playing on the iPad to help me load the washing machine.

I know.

I was shocked too, but he seems to be turning into the most considerate toddler I’ve ever met and I have NO idea where he gets it from.

Today, he has helped me with the washing, helped me make the beds, vacuumed the rug, cleaned a stain off the floorboards with baby wipes, helped to load the dishwasher and cleaned the coffee table. We had friends over for lunch and he picked up our rubbish and took it to the bin, without being asked!

It’s impossible to play Hungry Hippos with him. He takes balls from the winning Hippo and gives them to the other Hippos. He doesn’t like to see a Hippo go hungry.

There are never Hungry Hippos in our house

You’re probably thinking “So what Nicky? Sounds like you’ve got him well trained to me”.

Well, yes, but I worry about him.

How do I tell such a sweet little soul that his baby brother is never coming home?

We were looking at photos today. In particular, this one…

Me, Gabey & Elijah

Gabey pointed at my tummy and said “Mummys baby”, then at himself “Gabeys baby” and then “Daddys baby”. I told him he was right. Then I tried to explain to him gently that Elijah used to be in Mummys tummy, that he came out but then he died and couldn’t come home to live with us.

I’m not sure he understood.

How does a little boy understand such a thing when I don’t understand it myself. To be honest, he shouldn’t have to. He should be asking questions about Father Christmas and “when is it MY birthday mummy” not this.

Not this.

The one thing I do know, is that I don’t want this terrible, tragic event to ruin his childhood. How can it not though? This is a boy who brings Mummy tissues, when she’s sobbing her heart out, everytime a newborn baby appears on the TV. This is a boy living with a grieving Mother who finds it difficult to even breathe sometimes. This is a boy who has to spend the rest of his life without his little brother and my heart breaks for him.

He deserves so much better than that and I wish, with every breath in my body, that I could give it to him.

I’m so, so sorry my sweet, sweet child, that all of this is on your tiny, little shoulders. I read this quote today and it’s what I want you to know…

“Everyday may not be good but there’s something good in everyday and that something is you”.

Always you.

I had a dream…

When I was almost 10 years old, my best friend died from Leukemia.

My memories of her are hazy, as it happened 30 years ago, but I remember spending Saturday afternoons at the back of our local football club, drinking Coca-Cola from real glass bottles, trying to make our armpits “fart” with our hands and dancing on the stairs, pretending we were Legs & Co from Top of the Pops.

Legs & Co!

To be honest, I haven’t thought about her much over the years. I was young when she died. I remember the shock when Mum told me and feeling lonely on Saturday afternoons as I sat drinking Coca-Cola alone, but life carried on and the memories faded with time.

Then last night, I had a dream about her.

I was sat in a huge white and grey auditorium. A beautiful woman with short dark hair, walked up the stairs and sat down beside me. “Hi”, she said and I knew it was her. “Look behind you”. Behind me were rows and rows of bright, white lights.

They were mesmerising.

I just sat and stared for ages and then I told her “I don’t understand”. “This is what I do”, she said, “I show the little ones where to go” and as I stared at the beautiful lights, she said,

“I knew he was yours the moment I met him”.

You’re probably thinking “come off it Nicky, do you really think your old dead friend has found Elijah?”. I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t have the answers. My husband thinks it’s all “bollocks”. When I told him we were destined to be together because our palm lines cross at exactly the same places on our hands, he says “babe, it’s bollocks”. When I tell him a Tarot card reader once told me our first child would be a boy and be a musical genius, he says, “babe, listen to me, it’s bollocks”.

Maybe he is right and it is all bollocks. You will have to make your own minds up about that.

I do know that I rarely remember my dreams but this one has stuck with me today and has given me comfort. As I danced around the kitchen with my toddler, to the theme tune from Madagascar, I thought about those mesmerising lights and imagined my old best friend and my baby boy maybe doing the same.

Dance away my darlings!

Happy Birthday?

I received a beautiful bunch of flowers from a friend today.

One of our builders said to me “you’ve got some lovely flowers. Is it your birthday?”
“Well yes” I said “but not yet. Next week”. “Happy Birthday” he said.

Happy Birthday.

Just two simple words and yet for me it’s not really going to be a “Happy Birthday” year.

To be honest, I’ve had a few weird birthdays in the past.

There was the year my hubby gave me an Action Man for my birthday because Action Man had a spy camera, which apparently is “cool”. Then there was the year he wanted to give me birthday tokens that I could redeem for sex at any time. I think one of the tokens actually said “this entitles the bearer of this token to a quickie” 🙂

I’ve had some GREAT birthdays. Like the year he took me to Paris as a surprise for my 30th.

This year? I’m not sure how to describe how I feel this year. I think it’s the year that time should forget but I never, ever can.

I had an idea of what I would be doing on my birthday this year.

If I close my eyes, I can actually see it.

Tim and Gabey come into the bedroom. They’ve made me birthday breakfast. Elijah is in a white sleepsuit and Tim is holding him in the crook of his arm. Gabey shoves a piece of toast in my face and shouts “Happy Birthday mummy” and blows me a kiss. He then tells me how he made me breakfast and a card. He says “Eli helped too Mummy”. The card is hilarious and wonderful. Its got Gabey scribble all over it and Tim has held a pencil in Elijahs hand and written “I love you Mummy. Eli xxx”. Tim smiles and says “he wrote that all by himself you know. He’s very clever for a 3 month old”.

I guess the truth is, now Elijah has gone, I never get to have the birthdays I imagined ever again. Although honestly, just between us, how many of us really do get the birthdays we want or imagine? My friend Debbs got a box full of her own computer from her hubby one year. I love you Debbs and that STILL makes me giggle. Best birthday present story EVER. I doubt anyone can beat that?

So this year, I’m going to share a birthday Bucks Fizz with a few of my dearest friends, let Rekha feed me cake & laugh when Gabey shoves birthday toast in my face. I might even buy Gabey his first ever Action Man to celebrate.

Well, he is “cool” after all.

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43

That’s the number of ladies who made me cry today.

Not just a few tears but the sliding down the wall sort of sobbing cry. In fact, I’m still sat on the floor, writing this now.

I just received a card in the post. Written inside are some beautiful words and an email address and a password. “Oh that’s interesting” I thought. I clicked the details into my computer and this is what I saw…

and there was a next page and a next….

All of those lines contain the names of people who have put money into an account in memory of Eljah. 43 names in total and I’ve never met 42 of them in person.

I am warmed by this incredible gesture made by an online group of wonderful mums.

We may live in a world where people sometimes fight and deliberately hurt others but we also live in a world where 42 people cared enough about someone they have never met, that they did something in memory of a tiny little boy who never got the chance to live in their world.

Thank you beautiful ladies. Your compassion has truly humbled me.

I may never stop crying.