Chloe's Story - Chapter 2
The second installment of Chloe's Story is now here...if you missed Chapter 1, do go back to the previous blog post to catch up! Back over to Jamie, Chloe's Dad:
What do you do? We had just lost one daughter, the other one was fighting for her life: the inner conflict this situation created was difficult to contend with. My first reaction was a practical one - even though the pain, shock and heartbreak would have been etched all over my face, there felt like no time for mourning the loss of Phoebe, only action: what can we do?
Chloe was born pale, floppy and not breathing. She had been resuscitated at birth as she was showing no signs of life. She was now in the NICU with multiple organ failure, she had been given blood and platelets and was under observation for NEC (a potentially fatal condition that is common in pre-term babies) and brain seizures. I needed knowledge; the doctors and nurses kept us up to date as best they could and we had been moved into the bereavement suite - a place where people who have lost a child can spend time to grieve their loss - but we had Chloe.
This period seems like a blur trying to recall it - it was five days of intense emotion that I will never forget, but the actual events that took place seem distant. We spent the time alternating between time we could spend on the NICU with Chloe and time we got to spend with Phoebe in the suite (more on this later). The time on the NICU was tough; seeing Chloe - so small, so fragile, but fighting with all she had to be with us. The NICU is a daunting place to enter, the poor children there for all manner of reasons, fighting for their lives. The noises of the machines being used to keep the babies alive will stay with me, the beeps and alarms, and yet it is said that the noises can be comforting to the babies.
Chloe was so small, she was hooked up to so many tubes and wires you could barely see her, but she was there, fighting. In between seeing our daughters, Lisa and I rattled around the hospital. It was a surreal experience sitting in the café, going for lunch, watching the world around you continue, people not knowing your story, not knowing your pain. Lisa and I spent a lot of time together, we comforted each other, but there is not much talking, nothing can be said to fix anything.
I feel pain, I know hurt, but nothing like this had ever happened to me. I internalise my feelings and emotions but they tend to overspill when somebody else is hurting and seeing my wife struggling to process what had happened was so tough. My mom, dad, brother and sister were trying desperately to be strong for me, but I know them, their difficulty with what had happened sat right behind the supportive facade they had built to help me. I felt I could handle my feelings (I was wrong), but I struggled to deal with the upset and despair this situation had caused my wife, parents, siblings and extended family. I couldn’t fix it, I couldn’t make everything alright, make it better, there was no escape, no do over, we were going to have to go through this together as family.
Chloe was born on Tuesday, but by Sunday her condition had deteriorated. Her abdomen had swollen, which was a sign that the NEC the team had initially diagnosed had gotten worse or the diagnosis may have been wrong and could have been something more serious. After scans, the doctors determined the only thing they could do was get her to a more specialist children’s hospital to operate. We were told that this could be Bristol, Cambridge or Liverpool and she would be transferred by ambulance or air ambulance and we should prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.
This was best for Chloe and obviously was the only course of action, but what about William, our 20-month-old little boy who had been so brave, so understanding at such a young age to the situation, the one thing that brought light to the darkness. We were going to have to leave him behind. But not only that, we would have to say our final goodbye to Phoebe. The five days we had spent with her had been precious, but time was up.
Late on Sunday evening we were told Chloe had a place in Bristol, and we were going to be going there by ambulance. We packed up what stuff we had and left the room - I distinctly remember looking back into the room, trying to imprint the memories of holding my stillborn daughter into my mind. We went to the NICU where Chloe had been placed into a traveling incubator, which would keep her alive during the journey. We rushed out the front of the hospital, jumped in the Ambulance and at 2am were traveling, blue light down the M5.
Chapter 3 to follow soon...in the meantime, please consider donating generously to this important cause. CLICK HERE to donate.