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On Thursday 27th August 2020, my beautiful son Oaken was born. On my daughter’s 5th birthday (a day I’ll never forget for all the wrong reasons), I had a scan and it became clear that there might be a problem with the baby. I had an amniocentesis and we received the diagnosis that our precious baby had Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18). We felt as though our world fell apart, then lockdown happened and we felt more isolated than ever. A termination was offered and numerous people told me during the course of the pregnancy that we should terminate, that it would be easier. Easier for us, easier for our 5 year old daughter Willow, easier for everyone. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how anyone would think that a termination is an easier thing to go through. I had already had 7 early miscarriages, I had lost so many babies where I had absolutely no control over the situation and I simply couldn’t do what was expected by so many. I lost my first baby at 9 weeks in 2013 before I fell pregnant with my wonderous Willow who was born in March 2015 and then 6 further losses between May 2018 and August 2019. By the final miscarriage, I had given up on being able to have any more children of my own, I received fertility counselling and had finally decided to try IVF with a donor egg but, as I got to the top of the waiting list, I found out I was pregnant again. I cannot deny that I was terrified. Terrified (and convinced) that more heart break in the form of another miscarriage was awaiting me. Nevertheless, things continued and we decided to name our strong little fighter Oaken. 

As the pregnancy went on, it became clear that it would be a miracle if the pregnancy got close to term and if we were able to meet our baby alive. I was cared for really well by consultants at York and also Leeds General Infirmary but had a bad fall at about 7 months pregnant and this frightened the living daylights out of me. I thought I had killed my precious Oaken. The senior midwife who checked me over told me that they wouldn’t monitor me to see if my baby was okay. She said that my baby was not compatible with life and so they would simply leave things to take their course. I was on my own (thank you Covid-19) and politely but firmly told her that we would be monitoring him and that decisions would be made once we knew what we were dealing with. Thankfully, she didn’t argue with me and although there were concerns, it seemed Oaken was okay. A month later, Oaken was born by emergency c-section at the Leeds General Infirmary. What an amazing place with outstanding staff. The teams from foetal medicine, paediatrics, foetal cardiology and the Intensive Care Baby Unit were incredible. They understood our determination to do everything we could to meet Oaken alive and moved heaven and earth to help us.

We are so lucky, Oaken was born alive and showed himself to be a little fighter. He was tiny at only 3.5 Lb and had problems due to no connection between his mouth and stomach and with getting enough oxygen into his blood but, he was not about to give up. Oaken gave us almost 2 days to show him how much we wanted and loved him. He was calm and contented and responded to our cuddles and touch. We feel so incredibly lucky to have seen him fighting off the tubes used to take his spit away and to have discovered his tickly wriggly feet. We were transferred to Martin House Hospice for Children and had precious time for cuddles, photos and memory making.

On 29th August, Oaken slipped away in my arms. I’ll forever be grateful for the time we had but am haunted by how peacefully he went whilst I was begging him to hold on a bit longer for us. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that I slept (albeit holding his little hand) for almost 2 hours of his life and wondering if I had somehow precipitated his death by not holding him for those 2 hours. I guess I’ll never know. What I do know is that I feel so lucky that a small number of family members and friends were able to meet Oaken and to be a part of his life. He has taught so many people so much about life, love and death and I’ll be forever grateful to him for this. As if dealing with a difficult pregnancy during lockdown wasn’t enough, having to attend his funeral with only 18 family members with us was horrific. Being told in the chapel that our daughter had to choose which parent to sit with during the service was simply awful and not something I imagined would happen. How is it that I can share a bed with my husband but not sit next to him at the funeral of our precious baby boy?

Who knows what the future holds, these are such early days but, until we are all back together I’m determined to share the positive impact of having Oaken in my life as well as the less positive experiences that I had so that these might help others – this will be his legacy. Mummy, Daddy and Willow love and miss you so much Oaken, we will do our best to live our lives to the full and appreciate life for you our beautiful boy 

Created: 21/10/2020 10:17

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