14th January 1992. The day started off quite ordinarily. I got up, went to work. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my first child. I had an antenatal appointment at my local hospital at 11.00am. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the hospital and feeling that something was not 'quite right'. I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong. I just didn't feel right. Previously I'd had problems with blood test results. During an earlier scan the sonographer couldn't see my baby's kidneys properly. A few weeks earlier I had to have an amniocentesis but everything had come back clear.
I was called in for my appointment and I saw a 'student'. He did all the usual routine things and then went off to have a word with his consultant. He came back in the room and said that I needed to make my way to Grantham Hospital as soon as I could.
I went to tell my boyfriend, Dave, that I had to go to hospital. He was getting ready for work so I packed a few things in a bag and went off to catch the next train on my own. I don't like train journeys and I remember standing up in the doorway of the carriage all the way there. I arrived at Grantham Hospital at about 1.30pm and was in a maternity ward with another lady who was almost a week overdue. I was told to stay in my bed and rest. I called my mum and dad and explained that I was in hospital. I told them everything was fine and I was just in for observation.
I laid on my bed trying to read my book and my magazines but I couldn't concentrate. I had a cup of tea and the midwife came round and did some more observations. I told her I'd started to have little cramping pains. They weren't too bad, they were just niggling. An hour or so later, I realised the pains were more regular. I mentioned it to the midwife when she came back round. She just laughed and said I should swap places with the lady in the next bed. She should be having her baby and I definitely wasn't. At around 5.30pm my 'pains' were every five minutes. I told the midwife and she offered me paracetamol and said again that the lady in the next bed should swap places with me. I took my paracetamol and tried to get some sleep.
At 9.30pm I got up to go to the toilet. It was then that I realised I was bleeding. Instead of getting back in my bed and pressing the buzzer I walked around looking for someone to help me. I eventually found a nurse and was shortly being examined by a lovely doctor. She told me that I was already 7cm dilated. Amidst all the hustle and bustle all I could hear was midwives complaining that there wasn't room for me to give birth here or there. There were no ambulances travelling anywhere as the fog was so bad you couldn't see your hand in front of your face.
I was whisked down a corridor and put in a tiny room. I had a nurse, who reminded me of my grandma, holding my hand. The midwife was telling me when to push and when to breathe. I had to have an episiotomy to help my baby out. I remember seeing my son as he was born, a tiny little scrap. He cried and I remember thinking he sounded like a baby bird. I didn't get to hold him or see his face, the midwife rushed him out of the room and shouted for a neonatal team.
My son was born at 11.36pm weighing 2lb 15.1/2oz's. When I had been stitched up and cleaned up a midwife brought me a photo of my son. He looked perfect. This is one of my most treasured possessions. One of the nurses phoned my mum and dad and even though the weather was still horrendous they drove from Newark to Grantham to come and see their first grandchild. On the way they called in to pick up my boyfriend. There was no answer. I still don't know where he was that night. A midwife asked me what I was going to call my son, I said James.
James was in an incubator. He wasn't wired up to any machines, he was just tiny. My mum and dad took some photographs and soon they left me to get some sleep. One of the nurses gave me something to help me sleep. As soon as I got to sleep a doctor came and woke me up to say that my baby needed help with his breathing. She explained that he needed to be put on a ventilator. I told her to do whatever she needed to do to help him.
The next morning I was told that my son had to be transferred to City Hospital in Nottingham. He would be going as soon as an ambulance could be arranged. There was no room for me. I would have to wait for another ambulance later that day.
I was allowed to see my son as he was being put into another incubator for his journey. This time he had wires and tubes everywhere and I was shocked. He had a bubble wrap blanket to keep him warm. My boyfriend turned up during this time and said how proud he was of me for going through all this on my own. He also said he didn't like the name James. I said goodbye to my son and he went off on his journey. I went back to my bed feeling empty and lost.
Later that night I was taken to City Hospital. I had my own room that was on a different ward to my son. One of the nurses took me to see my baby. I was able to touch him and talk to him but I still couldn't hold him. I went back to my room and tried to sleep.
The next morning I had a shower and went down to see my baby. At the hospital there's a chart on the wall with a magnet next to your name. You move the magnet to the NICU part of the chart so the nurses know where you are. The doctors came to talk to me but to be honest I don't remember much of what they said. I know I had to give some blood for him. The nurse also explained that I could express some milk too. She showed me into a little family room and I had a go but I couldn't do it. I vowed to try again later.
I held my son's tiny hand and felt his soft delicate skin. I couldn't do this for long though as he had to be under an ultraviolet light. The nurse said I could help to change him and wash him but I was scared I'd hurt him. I wiped his tiny face with a wet cotton wool ball and he wriggled and stretched out his legs.
I went back into the family room and I managed to express a tiny bit of milk. I was disappointed that there wasn't much but the nurse said that any amount of milk was good.
I went back to bed and rested and after lunch my mum and dad came to visit. My dad brought his video camera and made a short video. Later that day my aunty and my best friend also came to visit and I proudly showed off my baby.
That night I said goodnight to my baby and said I'd see him in the morning. I then went back to my room. I'd only been in bed about half an hour when I felt the need to go and see my baby again. As I got down the corridor I could see lots of people rushing around. A doctor came to see me and put me in the family room. She explained that my baby had a few problems and they were looking after him. I explained that I managed to express some milk for him. I still thought he'd be alright. I stayed in that room and I felt numb. A nurse came in and asked if I wanted to phone anyone. I knew this meant it was bad. I managed to get hold of my boyfriend's boss and he was able to bring my boyfriend to the hospital. I then called my mum and dad but I couldn't get my words out. Someone told them to come to the hospital.
The hospital chaplain came down to see us and asked if we wanted to name our son. We decided then that his name would be David James, David after his dad. As the chaplain baptised my son all I could see was the numbers on the monitor going down, getting lower and lower.
We were taken back into the family room and a short while later my baby was brought to me dressed in a little blue baby grow and a white cardigan. He was wrapped in a white blanket. It was the first time I got to hold my son. My mum and dad arrived and they too had a cuddle. The nurses left us alone for a while and we all held this precious little baby and cried together. The doctor then came back in the room and checked my baby, she said gently that he'd gone. He died in my arms at 1.30am on 17th January 1992 from a bleed on the brain. I remember my mum saying that no-one should ever go through that. I also remember my dad kissing my baby's head and saying goodnight son.
My son was taken away, my mum and dad went home and my boyfriend and I were taken into a double room. We sat on the bed feeling totally shell shocked. Our baby had died. Our future was gone. We had a funeral to arrange.
We stayed up arranging the funeral together. Our son would be cremated at Wilford Hill Crematorium and his ashes would be scattered in the memorial garden. The hospital chaplain should do the service. Dave would carry his son's white coffin into the crematorium. We would play Ava Maria. It was all sorted. We didn't have much money so we thought this was the only option we had.
In the morning a nurse brought us some tea and toast. A doctor came to talk to us. She said all the nurses were upset and shocked when they'd come into work and found out what had happened. She told us that the hospital would pay for the funeral. As we had talked all night we decided that we would stick with the plans we had made. This is something I regret to this day, although, I know it was right at the time.
I still felt so numb, I couldn't cry like I wanted to. I was scared that if I started to cry I'd never stop. I wanted to shout and scream but I felt empty, lost, totally broken.
Later that day we had to go into Nottingham to register the birth and death of our son. I remember sitting in that room, shaking so much I couldn't sign my name. The registrar was so kind and patient. We then went back to the hospital to collect my belongings and we then went home.
My boyfriend and I weren't living together at the time and I couldn't face going back to my flat. It was full of baby stuff, I didn't want to see it or look at it. I stayed at my boyfriend's flat and my brother went and packed all the baby things away. The next few days passed in a blur. we arranged flowers for the funeral. A wreath in the shape of a teddy bear and a single rose to place on his tiny coffin.
The day of the funeral arrived. We hired a car for the day and I remember the drive back to Nottingham. It took forever. We stood outside the crematorium waiting. My son who'd made an early arrival into the world was late for his own funeral. There were family, friends from work, even the nurses from the hospital were there. Although, I couldn't tell you exactly who, I was told afterwards. I struggled to place my rose on top of his tiny white coffin. I didn't want to let it go. I didn't want to say goodbye forever.
After the funeral everyone went back to my mum and dad's house. We stayed for a short while and then decided that as we had the car for the day we'd go off somewhere. We drove to Meadow Hall and sat in a coffee shop. We watched the people going by. No-one knew that we'd just had a funeral for our son. The world was carrying on without us.
From that day my life would never be the same. Part of me had died. My plans and my future had changed. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Dave and I eventually decided to try for another baby. We were being sent for tests to find out why I hadn't got pregnant when my period was late. I was delighted to be pregnant again but scared that things would go wrong again. I had a suture put in my cervix and I had extra scans to check that everything was ok.
On August 31st 1994, I gave birth to a daughter, Jessica Louise. My rainbow baby.
The one question I hate to this day is how many children do you have? I answer one to save having to explain and upset anyone. It only recently came to light that my daughter also hates being asked if she has any brothers or sisters. She feels she has to say she is an only child to spare the feelings of others and because this is a taboo subject.
To my son, you live on in our hearts forever. I miss you dreadfully and wonder what you would be doing now if you were here. I love you ...