Louis and Lydia

I've just put my five week old daughter, Lydia, into her cot, kissed her goodnight and told her I love her. I am completely overwhelmed by her - she's beautiful, perfect and alive. Twelve short months ago today I buried her brother Louis. He was two days old.

Louis was premature and his chances of survival were slim. After he died I knew I wanted another baby quickly. A few weeks later I was pregnant and facing a future with some hope, instead of the bleakness that had enveloped me. By Louis' due date I was pregnant with his sister and my emotions were all over the place.

At twenty weeks the prematurity prevention clinic at Leicester Royal Infirmary discovered that not only had I an infection that can cause prematurity, but my cervix was also shortening and preparing for another premature delivery. I was frantic with worry, even after they put a stitch in my cervix two days later. The chance of the pregnancy being a success was 85% - not good enough, I thought, I want 100%.

I knew the baby had a better chance of life after thirty weeks but I had ten weeks to get through. I functioned, but I don't know how. I went to work, laughed, swam and basically tried to be "normal".

At thirty-seven weeks I had a check up in preparation for the stitch being removed. The clinic found my baby was quite big and breech, which could have been a problem to my previous Caesarean. Another Caesarean was booked and Lydia was born eleven days early, weighing a healthy 8lbs 9oz. She was chubby, had lots of hair and I just couldn't believe she'd arrived safely, eleven months and one day after her brother.

Having her has been a God send. I have a reason to get up each day and smile. I take her to her brother's grave and sent him a birthday card last week. Having her has also opened old wounds and somehow made me feel cheated again - I can shower her with kisses, talk to her and watch her respond, and that's made me miss Louis. I want to have both of my children to enjoy.

One of my relatives sent a card "on the birth of your first baby". I was so angry - how dare people forget my first born. I've always had two pregnancies and two children - his short life is so significant, yet some people have forgotten him already.

For Lydia and I, Louis will always be a part of our family. I hope anyone reading this who is newly bereaved will draw some hope from my experience. This time last year I was distraught and didn't know how I would ever survive. I rang SANDS for support and I have contact with another bereaved mum. Then I got pregnant. The pregnancy seemed to take years, but it was worth it. I still have bad times and I cry often for the son I'll never hold. The pain doesn't go, it just hides and pops up now and then. I love both my children equally, but Lydia had made me laugh between my tears.

July 2001