Edward Eaves, our experience and what you can do to help

I wasn't going to do anything like this, indeed I wrote most of this a few nights ago after going through booklet after booklet explaining what you do in these situations. Just hours after Edward's passing we were given a booklet titled 'When Your Child Dies - Information For Parents' and a lot of these things say that this kind of things helps. I just wanted to get some things down, thank people and because many had asked how they could help, give them a way to do so. So here goes...

As a new parent you wake up and do 'that thing' where you look at your baby for obvious breathing, for no reason, you may not see or hear it and so you put your hand on their chest and usually you feel the rise and fall of breath. The sense of relief is mighty from a fear that was irrational, you know this, you know it's irrational but it's what every new parent does.

If that slight touch doesn't work then you gently poke the chest waiting for their reflex reaction when the arms go in the air and you know everything is ok, sometimes you wake the baby but it's no problem because the fear has gone. I'd done this numerous times with my first son and my second, and the joy you feel when everything is ok is far more than it should be, because of course everything is going to be ok!

With Edward on that Friday morning, it was different, I knew. I saw him, I saw his face pale and his lips blue and my everything went into action. I started to talk to him 'Edward, Edward, Edward please', this was seconds, perhaps less. I then swooped him up, I wanted to save him. I put him flat on the floor, checked his airwaves and started the infant CPR I had made sure I knew just in case. I was also screaming my husband to call an ambulance, this is it what woke him.

An hour or so earlier, even at about 4am, he'd been doing the same usual prod, check for reflex, return to bed a happy parent. He must have hoped I'd gone mad, I screamed to call 999 and before I knew there was someone on loudspeaker telling me what to do but I knew, I just knew my Edward had gone. I carried on with everything I had until the ambulance very quickly arrived and then just as it did some watery substance vomited from his mouth, I thought I'd done it, that there would next be a cry and everything would be fine, but there wasn't and my barefooted husband ran with our baby to the ambulance.

I was then left  alone, my four year old son woke up, I grabbed the closest clothes, banged on my neighbour's door and asked her to run to look after our older son. She's a mother of two young children and as I made confused cries about my baby she knew to just say she'd get our other son. I got in an ambulance car which had come with the van and he sped off on the several minute journey to the hospital. My hopes had been raised by the 'vomit' and when I got the I saw a huge team working on him, my husband stood watching. But that machine, that machine you see on TV programmes, it wasn't moving, there were no lines, no beeps, no reassuring hope. There was just talk of the minutes, of adrenalin shots and I knew it was a checklist they were going through before they could legitimately 'give up'. I don't use that phrase as an insult, it was how it felt and they were doing their job.

I begged with them, I rushed through the medics and went to Edward's head and I begged with him 'Come on Edward, please, PLEASE'. I begged the medics again to carry on, I lied about the timing, said they were wrong and had to continue, but again I knew. I don't remember them confirming it, they didn't have to.

Right at the side of that room was the relatives room and we sat there, but I couldn't sit, I walked up and down the corridor screaming, wailing, my baby, my Edward. No, just, no. It was becoming more real. What genuinely felt like the worst kind of nightmare was turning into a far more harrowing reality, but I still had hope that would change, it would all be ok, I'd wake up and chastise myself again for being a paranoid parent.

As a child when things, like sometimes happens with every kid, were going horribly at school or home, I used to go to the toilet and I'd hold my head in my hands and close my eyes, beg for it all to go away and to be somewhere else. I visited that toilet on that corridor countless times but nothing went away. I couldn't walk properly, I moved slowly from one place to another but I couldn't stay still.

Back in the relatives room they brought us Edward, he was perfect, he was warm, he was absolutely everything any parent would want. Everyone says their child is the cutest, the most amazing, well mine was and he still was. There must have been something wrong. The air had been sucked from my lungs and I was waiting to be re-inflated. The words panic, devastation and despair are overused, but this was all of that and more.

You start thinking about things on the internet you've heard, stories about medics being wrong and people just springing back into life but reality starts to remove those hopes. I held Edward like I always had, I cradled him and rocked him and he was warm, my tears streamed but I was careful to avoid them hitting him. At this point I was shaking, my whole body, hands, arms, legs, shoulders, head, everything was shaking. I was colder than Edward, the nurse there covered me and my husband continually in blankets, there must have been ten blankets covering us.

I lay down with Edward and cuddled him on the sofa and my husband cuddled me, we were a family but just without the elder brother. Our thoughts turned to him but we couldn't bring him to see this and then the police came in, assuring us they were there to help and contact people. They helped so much and drove closest relatives to us and each arrival created a whole new horror.

I'd be holding my Edward and they'd see and they'd collapse crying and then I would again, the nurse would continually ask if anyone wanted anything and at one point, almost childlike with tears like a small girl, I said I just wanted my Edward back. Water, tea with sugar, coffee, tissues, even more blankets, what difference could it make.

We must have been in that room for hours, there was no rush and the hospital appeared incredibly quiet, I was still going to the toilet doing the wishing thing and everyone knew I was 'that mother', I was living that nightmare nobody wanted to have but me, my husband and our baby Edward were right in the middle of it.

We went for walks outside and back and up the corridor and back and around the room and then I'd lay down again holding Edward with my husband. Then everyone came in, a procession of people asking personal details, asking if he'd been ill. We'd taken him to the doctors two times in the previous few days but that's a matter of another investigation so best left for now. They kept telling us what would now happen, that we could take Edward to the mortuary when we wanted, I hated that word.

Take a baby, a warm perfect baby, my warm perfect Edward to a mortuary, this just wasn't happening. A lady who I believe was the senior paediatrician came in and explained there'd be a post mortem to try and give us answers, but I didn't care, I was so devastated that they'd want to cut into my perfect Edward. What did it matter? He was gone, nothing was going to bring him back, why spoil my perfect Edward?

We talked about this and they said I'd feel differently a few days later, I disagreed, I was utterly devastated at the thought of it, if I couldn't stop him dying then surely I had to stop this. That's how it felt. I wanted to legally stop them cutting my Edward open but was informed more about the process and calmed down slightly.

I don't know how many hours we were in that room but when the time came I decided I wanted to carry my Edward to the mortuary personally with my husband. A nurse guided us but, unbelievably, she got lost, we went up and down in the lift. My legs could barely carry me by this stage and my husband was in no state to help, I wasn't going to hand Edward to anyone. I finally snapped at the nurse, who had been exemplary to that point, to find someone who actually knew how to get to the paediatric mortuary.

The 'chief nurse' appeared and she helped me walk so I could carry him there. There was a cot, it was like a small bedroom, but there was also a baby mobile, probably to make it feel more comforting. But that bloody mobile was playing Edward's music, the same music we'd got him to sleep to the previous few nights, I got him to the cot and my legs just went. Totally.

I sat on a couch and sobbed, more than sobbed, I made almost animal like noises crying for my Edward. It was all becoming more and more real. I was sat on a couch having just placed my dead Edward in a cot, and yet the world was expected to continue. And then we left, they arranged a lift home, on the way everyone was just getting on with things, the students of Manchester all happy and hopeful, oblivious that the world, our world, had just stopped turning.  We got home with some family but I couldn't be there, Edward was everywhere. We had wanted him everywhere. There was not a direction you could look without something belonging to our beloved eight week old baby.

We went out, we drove. I'm not sure how but we ended up at my husband's parents and I drank Jack Daniels in huge quantities and cried and struggled through freezing shock. I'd given up smoking but went and sat in the garden with a big drink and a pack of fags and talked to my sister in law until I think I fell asleep.

I woke in the morning and the horror all began again. I needed to 'get out' and we drove or people drove us, just around and around. It was like being in some sort of transit became a comfort (it still is), there was no food, just being driven, crying, being utterly terrified and sleeping. This just carried on and then people started ringing and I heard others on the phone explaining what had happened to my Edward, what business was it of theirs? They were family but I didn't want the world intruding and I didn't want their reactions. The more people knew, the more people talked about it, the more real it was.

We went home to our apartment  at some point and had to leave straight away, there was just too much about. I asked my mother to pack up his clothes and put them all in his draw, the new one we'd spent a bloody fortune buying because it was so beautiful for him. I didn't want a thing washing, I still haven't washed any of my own clothes in case they have a smell, a bit of milk, something of Edward on them. This is now 16 days ago.

Every day I've walked around holding his blue blanket and the outfit he wore the day before, it's my comfort, I've slept with it and genuinely panicked if I couldn't find it immediately at any point.

Each of the 15 days we've been to see Edward, cradled him, talked to him. He still looks perfect. I've smiled, broke down with him, sang songs to him which I regret I hadn't managed to get in during the eight weeks before, they were supposed to be for later. I've read the tale of Peter Rabbit to him, just so he's heard his mummy read it. My husband has enjoyed his 'monkey cuddles' from Edward and been far braver than I. Each time I leave thr room I have to turn back repeatedly, even when I know I'm returning the next day I just can't say goodbye, going as far as getting half way down the corridor before having to go back and have one last cuddle or kiss.

In my head I've gone back to the night before repeatedly,  when our perfect family of four sat down and put videos up on YouTube, Dem Bones was the family favourite but that night I also put 'Oh Happy Days' on from Sister Act, that was the mood. Then hours later our family was ripped to pieces.

Edward wasn't your usual eight week old, he'd been a keen eater and was very strong. Usually babies at that age don't have much going for them but Edward already had a personality, he was more vocal than his older brother, certainly going to be a man mountain and wouldn't take no for an answer. If he wanted a cuddle he got it, and that was fine by me.

I'd get up early with him in a morning to check the European press and as I read the latest Mourinho rumour I'd be singing Banana Pancakes to him but if Jack Johnson stopped then he certainly wasn't happy. He liked light, he liked waving his arms about in fists and he liked grabbing handfuls of my hair at any given opportunity and tugging on them almost to check if they were real.

He'd just started to laugh, or chuckle, and it was that stage where you're becoming sure it is laughter and not simply a bit of wind. His brother loved him more than we could ever have hoped and Edward looked in happy bewilderment at this four year old talking to him through teddy bears and funny voices. Ten green bottles, baa baa black sheep and twinkle twinkle little star.

Every day we've been to that mortuary, and now the funeral home, as parents, it's what's been getting us through. Perhaps the hardest thing has been the best thing, the fear now is what happens when that stops.

His funeral is on Tuesday, painfully the day after his brother's birthday, and we've decided on Abide With Me as a hymn during a simple service. A hearse is something I couldn't face and we'll carry the coffin ourselves in the back of one of the funeral director's cars. He's got his plot, it's a nice one. It'll be a simple service with no wake afterwards, our memories are so personal and not to be reminisced over gallons of healing alcohol with people who didn't really know him.

I'm not sure what will come then, I'm terrified, whilst I can hold him he still exists for me, I can still comfort him, he is still with us. Perhaps it's denial, what it's called doesn't really matter.

Thanks for all the kind messages we've had and if you could spare a thought for our Edward when your hear Abide With Me before the FA Cup final next week, well that may be some way that our eight week old baby touched a tiny fraction of the world that he would surely have played a much larger part in.

There may be more I need to say at a later date but I want Edward to be the focus of any sympathy being kindly pushed our way and I just wanted you (the 'royal' you) to know a little more about what happened to our beloved, and about him, because to us he's just as significant as anyone else who has passed. And some bereavement advice is to write things down like this, so perhaps it's a tad selfish too.

I'd end this by saying goodbye to my Edward and having some semblance of meaning in it, but I simply can't. Not yet. To me, he's still my perfect little Edward asleep in that cot we can still visit tomorrow.

Being on Twitter has been a great distraction, almost able to pretend none of it is happening sometimes. But reality is still reality, the escape of a joke, or even an argument, helps. Football has helped, it's a fun distraction, a game, perhaps something many of us forget sometimes. A lot have asked what they could do and I had messages about sending flowers etc and what charity we wanted donations to.

We had a think and what has helped get us through the past couple of weeks has been the peadiatric mortuary at the hospital. The lady in charge there, Liz, has made the place so homely and welcoming, with donations from other bereaved parents and people who wanted to help. It has almost been a second home and it's a cause which gets few donations but one which is so important to help families cope with the loss of a child and try to say goodbye.

If you would like to donate just a little to help them, go here here: http://www.rmchcharity.org.uk/online-giving.php and make sure you put EDWARD EAVES in the comment section and they'll get the funds, you'll get a thank you letter I think.

I've rambled as usual! Sorry if it's been hard reading, but it's been a help to write down and if it gives some assistance to the saintly Liz and her team, then it's been worth every painful word.

Thank you. 

 

(I wanted to do this as a page without adverts but I'd have had to have it as a menu option for that and it doesn't seem quite right. Obviously any money the company makes from those adverts will also go to Liz and her team. I probably shouldn't need to explain that but we all know there's always a smart arse somewhere wanting to see the worst in  anything.)

 

 

 

 

 

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