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The day that we lost Alfie started just the same, if not better than any other day.
 

It was a Sunday, and back then with being so ill, tired and uncomfortable for so long, I really looked forward to my Sunday morning lie-ins. I tried my best not to get up until ten o'clock, simply for the fact that it was the only day of the week that we could do that. Even though sleeping seemed to be a thing of the past, just to be able to lay in bed and chill out was fantastic. We loved to lay and watch the bump inside my tummy moving and kicking, and generally being a pain. (literally!!)

This Sunday morning was like any other, I could feel what I thought was his bottom right up by my ribs on the right hand side, He spent the whole morning sticking it right out there so that it looked as if he was trying to push his way out right through my stomach, it was quite funny. We spent the whole morning prodding him back and tickling him so that he'd move away and then come back a few minutes later just to be awkward and start the whole thing over again.

I soon got restless that morning and didn't make it to the ten o'clock mark, we decided to get up just after eight thirty and usually I just plonked myself down until after I'd had a cuppa to bring me round and even then try to get away with doing as little as possible, but this morning I got up and got busy.

I got up, did the week's ironing, prepared dinner, cleaned round, I amazed myself because I usually hate doing all those things, never mind doing them as soon as I get out of bed, I was full of energy and just got on with things.

The day went on and I had noticed that I had a slight discomfort right down at the bottom of my stomach on the right hand side, nothing more than that really, just a slight discomfort, a bit of an ache. That was nothing new at the time, everything ached constantly at that point.

The day went on and I dished out the Sunday dinner that I had made around two thirtyish and we sat and ate dinner together and then I went to attempt to read the papers. After trying for ten minutes or so I realised that this aching that I'd had nagging in the background was becoming a little stronger and so decided to go to lay down in bed for half an hour to see if I could get it to wear off a little.

Ten or Fifteen minutes went past and I knew that this pain was going nowhere. It was getting stronger and I knew that as I found myself rocking backwards and forwards in the bed to try and ease it. I now knew that something wasn't right.

I had had a placental abruption with my previous pregnancy from which my son thankfully was saved. I had a terrible feeling that it was happening all over again but didn't want to say anything to my boyfriend J as he would panic straight away so I remained calm and decided that if anything was going to happen that it would happen in the toilet so I got up and went to the loo. I sat there for a while and rocked myself backwards and forwards willing anything that was going to happen to happen. I wasn't wrong, I stood up and on the piece of toilet paper that I had just used there was blood. Now I knew this was what I had been dreading, My son was on the hallway outside the bathroom so I stuck my head out of the door and asked him to ask J to come upstairs.

I had to remain calm as I knew J would be in a state, I showed him the blood and asked him to call the delivery suite to explain what was happening and ask their advice. I knew we'd have to go straight in so I went and got dressed while he was on the phone and called my mum to ask if she would come up and look after my other three children while this was all happening. This I dreaded also as she is another big worrier, she has seen me go through three not so healthy pregnancies and births before and I knew she'd freak out as soon as I told her what was happening. She came up immediately though and took the kids to her house so that they didn't panic when they saw the ambulance arrive.

I was making sure J had picked up my maternity notes and trying to keep him calm as I knew at the time underneath all the panic, he didn't have a clue what was going on, he imagined that we would go and be monitored for a while and then be sent home and told to rest for a while to keep the old blood pressure down. To be honest, although I was positive this was another abruption starting, I just imagined that it would go the same way as the last one and that I would end up with a baby in intensive care by the end of the day, I didn't panic, I just tried to get through the pain to get it all over with as calmly as possible and as quickly as possible.
 

 
 

 Upon finishing getting dressed, I made my way down the stairs and felt decidedly faint. I made my way to the computer desk to sit down in the office chair as it was higher than the sofa. With the pain and the faintness I didn't think that getting down onto the sofa was a very good idea. I then felt worse than I had ever felt in my entire life.

In the space of seconds I started to burn up so much that sweat was actually dripping off of me, I couldn't stand it. I felt as if I didn't have an ounce of energy within me, I felt as if I couldn't even sit up straight, I slumped back in the chair and I actually thought I was going to pass out. It was a terrible feeling, as if I didn't have control over my own body, by this time I had also felt a couple of small gushes of blood coming out down below.

I was glad when the paramedics turned up, I could just about manage to tell them what had happened and a bit of my medical history. They were really nice and took my blood pressure and temperature and all the bits and pieces that needed doing before the actual ambulance arrived. One of the guys who took my blood pressure asked if I had had high blood pressure, I explained that it had been high for a short period on the previous Monday but came back down to normal as quickly as it had gone up. He said," Well I bet from looking at you right now that it's gone in completely the opposite direction and that it's really low now." He was right he said there was barely a blood pressure there. They put an oxygen mask on me and tried to get my blood pressure back up. The ambulance arrived and it seemed to take an eternity to me to actually get me inside, once in there, yet again, by the time that all the checks were done and the questions answered it seemed like we had been sat there forever. The ambulance people were great but they knew that something was badly wrong although they tried to hide it from us.

The journey in the ambulance was excruciating, by this time my stomach had become solid. I was having a constant searing pain that was just getting stronger and stronger all the time. As my stomach was so hard and rigid every bump we went over or every turn in the road felt like I was being kicked in the guts. It was so bad that even before we set off, they had given me gas and air to suck on, it didn't seem to make the slightest bit of difference but I think it gave me something to do to take my mind off the pain a little, not much chance of that!

We finally arrived at the hospital and once the ambulance people found out how to gain entrance to the delivery suite, we were taken to room 5 and then went through the same question and answer session with the midwives that we had done with the ambulance people half an hour earlier.
 


 

As I was transferred onto the bed from the ambulance trolley I felt a huge gush of blood and knew that things were not looking good. I informed the midwife of this and when she had finished with her questions and blood pressure monitoring etc she took off my jeans and didn't like what she saw. J said he couldn't believe how much blood there was down there. They called straight for a doctor who listened for a heartbeat with a handheld Doppler machine. I was in so much pain it was hard to keep a track of what was going on but the next thing I knew there was a doctor sat on the bed doing an ultrasound scan.

At the time, I don't know if I actually realised they were scanning me until she actually spoke about it. I think to be honest I thought they had brought in a big heartbeat monitor machine, although thinking about it now I don't know what I thought they would have been doing with it, my brain just wasn't working, lol.

It hit me when she said the words that will ring around my head forever. She was very straight and to the point, she said, "Unfortunately we can't find a heartbeat, I'm sorry, your baby's dead!"

And that was that. They hadn't even called J over to hear what they had to say, he was stuck in a corner and had brought himself over just to hear the last part of that sentence.

I didn't cry. I went very numb. Emotionally anyway, I just seemed very calm and matter of fact about it all, as if someone had just told me that we were having fish and chips for tea or something just as mundane as that. It was my natural practical side staying firmly in place. I knew what I had been told and I knew what had happened and what that meant but I knew I just had to get on and get better, I knew there were things to be done but the next thing that the doctor said was like a smack in the face. I suppose at some point your brain just switches off.

She said that the next thing to be done was to monitor me for a while and then make decisions about which would be the best way to deliver this baby. Because of some medical problems of mine and having a caesarean previously that wouldn't be the best way to go. It could be extremely dangerous for that to happen and we found out later from a different doctor that if that had have happened I could have ended up losing my womb, which still confuses me now, I have no idea why.... and didn't think to ask!

It suddenly hit me, Yes my baby had died but I never thought about getting him out, until that moment I didn't realise that I was still going to have to give birth to him.

The doctors and midwives all busied round and had their meetings and made decisions as to what was to happen, J came over and leaned over me and he was just crying uncontrollably. I cuddled him the best I could, I couldn't move very much but I knew I had to be strong as I knew how much this would hurt him. Not that it didn't hurt me but it was happening to me and I had to deal with the pain and everything at the same time.

I felt so bad for him, he had wanted this baby so much, he had waited such a long time and with us knowing my history with pregnancy and birth we knew that this was probably going to be the last time we would ever be able to try, it just ends up being too dangerous.

So this was it, the only chance we had to have that longed for baby was gone. It was so unbelievable, I thought back to that morning, playing with him in my tummy in bed, playing hide and seek behind my ribs, this just was so unfair, how could this have happened? Our world had turned upside down within the space of a few hours.
 


 

It was 5.20pm when we were told that our baby had died, I will never forget that. I couldn't get rid of the thoughts such as, just three hours before, we were sat eating our dinner and knew none of this was about to happen, right up until then it was a perfectly normal day. How could something like this happen in such a small amount of time?

From going into the hospital, I was being looked after by a midwife called Carol who was really nice and even called up the next day to ask how we were and let us know that she was thinking about us. At half past eight there was a shift change and that's when we met Sarah, she took over my care from Carol and she was absolutely brilliant. I couldn't have asked for a better midwife, I will never forget how good she was to us and how much she helped us cope with what was happening.

The night just went on and on, every time I thought it wasn't possible for the pain to get any worse, I was wrong. I had never known pain like it, and never want to ever again. It was decided that a normal delivery would be the best option, much better for me as they would only want to do a caesarean as a last resort if the normal delivery didn't work and even then that could have been very dangerous. I was induced and very soon I was having contractions, this didn't help the pain one bit, now instead of having one constant pain, I was having the constant pain with the pain of contractions over the top of that.

I was so tired that my eyes kept shutting each time a contraction faded away, I would never have been able to sleep and I was still aware of everything that was going on but for some reason I just could not keep my eyes open. It didn't seem long before Sarah told me that the contractions were only two minutes apart and that shocked me as it didn't seem like long since my waters were broken and now it was all underway. Before long, when I was asked how far apart the contractions were I replied that as soon as one was finishing another one was starting but I was still amazed by the speed of it, in comparison to my other labours anyway.

I was unaware of the time but the room seemed very quiet as Sarah was in another room there was only J and myself around. There had been so many people milling around for the whole time we had been in there, it just seemed very peaceful at that moment. All of a sudden I knew it was starting, I felt as if I needed to go to the loo and I knew that the baby was on his way.

I told J to go and find someone to tell them that I needed to push, he didn't quite know what I meant when I told him to tell them that it felt like I needed a poo so the baby was ready to come. Even so he found Sarah and she came and checked me over, within a couple of minutes she said "OK your baby is ready to be born so push away when you feel you need to"

Still to this day I couldn't believe the speed of it. A few good pushes and he was out. I felt the first urge to push at quarter to two, told J to go find Sarah at ten to two and at five past two Alfie Sam Crowley was born into this world at a heck of a speed I can tell you. He practically skidded out onto the bed it was that fast bless him, lol.

It had been such a rollercoaster of a day. I had done the normal mum, housey Sunday type of things, been ok, got poorly, gone to hospital, lost my baby, had things inserted through the arteries in my neck down into my chest, been wired up to just about every drip possible, and then given birth to my baby. How on Earth are you supposed to feel at a time like that?

J watched Alfie being born and before Sarah could tell me anything he turned round and said, "it's a boy!" It sounds like a really horrible thing to say because I know I wouldn't have felt any different had it been a girl but as soon as I heard that my heart sunk, I couldn't have felt any lower ever than I did at that point. I had wanted a little boy so much it hurt. Although you try not to get your hopes up, I had a feeling he was a boy but tried to convince myself otherwise.
 


 

Sarah asked if I wanted to hold him, there was no question, he was still my baby and once I saw him I realised how cruel nature really can be. He was absolutely perfect in every way.

I held him and couldn't believe how beautiful he was, I knew J was dying to hold him, before everything happened we had had conversations about him cutting the cord and if I had to have a caesarean how he would be so proud to be the first one to hold our baby. He had looked forward to these things for so long.

As I was still being looked after by Sarah and the other hospital staff J stared at his new son and cried. He couldn't have loved anything or anyone any more than he loved Alfie. He walked him around the room and talked to him, he told him how much we loved him. He told him how much he was wanted and how we had such big plans for him. He told him how much we had enjoyed the time we spent with him as he had been growing inside me, all those times, just like that very morning when he had played hide and seek with us and when we had sat and laughed watching the way he used to practice his rugby kicks on the inside of my stomach.

He took him to the window where he showed him the stars and the outside world where he would have lived. In the short time that we had Alfie with us J tried his best to tell him everything that he would have told him had he have been alive. This may sound a bit silly to someone not in that position but as he kept doing it over the next few days I understood what he was trying to do. In just a few days J was the best possible dad to Alfie that he ever could have been.

After a couple of hours I was wired up well and truly to machines and drips, I had everything going through me. Sarah asked us if we wanted her to bath and dress Alfie. We thought this was a good idea and so she brought in everything she needed and did it right there in front of us, she found him a white bonnet and a tiny green cardigan and a pair of white bootees that looked like wellies on his tiny legs and feet. He looked lovely. She also took hand and footprints and got together a collection of his little things and took some Polaroid photos of him in his little clothes, we will treasure them forever. Sarah was the best we could have asked for in this situation and we thank her for everything she did.

The whole of the next day just went on and on and on to be honest. Sarah went home at the morning shift change, I had a day of doctors coming in and out, looking at me and making decisions. My kids and friends and family came to visit in the morning. It was very hard for them to see me in that position and also deal with the fact that the baby they had been waiting for had died and was there in the same room.

They dealt with the whole thing really well. They were heartbroken and a bit nervous at being in this strange situation but they all handled it better than I could have ever imagined. They came in, they looked at Alfie, they held Alfie and they kissed him and talked to him and told him how much they loved him and wished he were alive so that they could do all the things they had wanted to do with their baby brother.

After the initial nervousness you would have thought that they had done this forever as they were so comfortable with him it seemed natural. this was the first time I realised that this would be one of the only times I'd ever have all my babies in the same room, very sad indeed.

I kept being told all day long that if after another four packs of blood that my blood levels had gone back up then I would probably be able to have a lot of my lines taken out of me. I wanted that more than anything and just hoped that when the test results came back that it would actually be possible to move my arms and maybe be able to sit in a different position, I didn't have any mobility at all, not even enough to push myself up in the bed because of all the needles in my arms and neck etc.

Thankfully later on that night, although it was not up as much as they'd have liked they said that the results were good enough to attempt to disconnect my lines, I was extremely happy to hear this, I felt like a different person.


 

 Sarah came back in at the evening shift change and I was very glad to see her. She caught up with what had gone on throughout the day and explained to us what would probably happen over the next few days. She took out most of my needles, cleaned me up, made sure I had some fantastically sexy TEDS stockings on and did all the other things that needed doing to get me ready to be transferred up onto the ward.

We were going to a room up on the maternity ward set aside for people who need time to themselves for whatever reason they may have in their personal situation, this was called Joyce's room on this particular ward. Off Sarah went to get everything sorted out and I was sent to the shower, this in itself was like a carry on film, I won't go into details but it wasn't a pretty sight and I wouldn't want to try it again in a hurry.

Sarah came back to make sure that we were all ready and patched me up over all my needle holes and everything, I looked like a patchwork teddy with big white patches hanging off of me all over the place. At last we were ready to go upstairs. we made sure we had everything to take with us and Sarah explained how we would have to take Alfie up so as to not upset the other mothers on the ward.

At this time we had Alfie laid on ice blocks to keep him cool within the very warm hospital. To stop the other mothers on the ward upstairs seeing us wheeling a dead baby through the ward and having anyone get upset we had to hide Alfie which seemed very weird at the time. I felt a bit weird about it but sort of understood why it had to be done.

We lifted him on his ice blocks out of his cot and I had to budge up in the bed and lay him at the side of me in the bed which they were moving me in and then cover him up with the blankets.

This was a bit of a shock and didn't feel right at the time but when it was all done with we were going to be on our own with our baby to be able to spend time with him as we wanted to so we just got on with it.

Sarah took us up to M3 and introduced the night staff up there to us and explained to them everything that was happening. Before she left to go back downstairs she sat on the bed opposite me and said how well she thought we had done through everything happening, how sorry she was that things turned out the way they did, that she'd be thinking of us and how beautiful she thought Alfie was.

Until that time I had not had a proper cry, not in front of anyone, but she rubbed my leg and leaned forward to give me a hug and that was it, I was gone. For some reason Sarah was the one who got me crying and she didn't even know it.

The next couple of days were spent inside Joyce's room, with our son doing all the why us? why him? what happened? When did it happen? what could we have done? it's not fair, type of stuff. We had an endless stream of people popping their heads in the door expressing how sorry they were and asking if we needed anything.

The hospital staff were really good though, we had some of the nicest people looking after us, we had Abi, looking after us all the time we were up there. She was absolutely brilliant, she knew what had happened and was as sad as everyone else to see Alfie laid in his little cot on his ice blocks but she also always talked to us like normal people. She talked in an everyday voice and didn't hush everything up as if we were about to shatter into a million pieces at the mere mention of anything that had happened. We were very grateful for that, at the time it made a lovely change.

Over the next two days Abi did a lot for us, she explained everything that was happening, she did her best to accommodate the way we wanted things and she generally involved herself in everything that happened and that was nice. She arranged for us to have a naming ceremony for Alfie in our room on the Wednesday afternoon, before we went home. She cried buckets at that ceremony when the rest of us were trying to keep control so we didn't have the whole room roaring, lol.


 

Another person who was really good to us was Angela, she was the bereavement midwife at the hospital. When we were first told that we would have visits from bereavement people, to be honest, I dreaded it. The more we saw of Angela, the more we liked her.

She was there to help with the emotional side of things and always will be on the other end of the phone if we need her but she also explained about the practical things. She got the registrar to come to us so we could register Alfie straight away in the hospital, helped with funeral stuff and more personal stuff like getting us coffee cups from the Klix machine which seems really silly now but at the time it's things like that that matter, she also got us films to take piccies of Alfie but quite a few people did that. Thanks all :)

I obviously can't write about every single thing that happened over that period of time and every single feeling I had as this has already gone on far too long already and I'm sure most people took one look at this page and clicked off straight away but I have tried to get in most things in the shortest way possible. (I know you think that's impossible.)

I also couldn't mention everyone who helped us during that time or made a difference to our lives, but I thank everyone who was involved. We couldn't have asked for more.

This was supposed to be Alfie's story and basically that's it. Alfie died on Sunday 2nd March 2003 of a massive placental abruption. It was too big and too fast for anything to be done to save him. I will forever have at the back of my mind some of those what ifs and but if I'd have onlys but I know they do no good, they will never bring him back and they don't help anyone.


 

Now I try to spend my time thinking of Alfie in a positive way. I think having a grave to visit helps because all I have to do is see that to know that although he isn't really there, his body is settled and at peace. That is where he will always be, he's safe and sound and he will never know hatred, pain or upset. In a way he has escaped all the nasty, hurtful things that life brings and that is a happy thought to me now not a sad one. I will always think about him and miss what could have been but I now know that he is up there looking down on us wondering why we're all moping around instead of living the life that we have been given to it's full potential. That's what it's there for, I now realise that and I will live it for both myself and a little bit for Alfie too.

 

Alfie Sam Crowley

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