June – SANDs Awareness Month “Finding the Words”

June is SANDs Awareness Month and this year the campaign has been “Finding the Words” (https://www.sands.org.uk/about-sands/media-centre/news/2018/06/sands-launches-findingthewords-campaign)

Here are the words I found to give Alexandra a eulogy at her service in October 2015.


Forgive me, it’s been a while since I’ve done any public speaking let alone something that I never thought I would have to do.

 How do you begin to write the story of a life of only a few hours?

 The first shock was that we had had a girl.  I was completely convinced that after 4 months of acid reflux, pelvic pain and carpal tunnel I was having a boy.  Only a boy could cause that amount of fuss, right?  I was glad that she had a full head of extremely dark hair – there may have been cross words with her after all that gaviscon I’d consumed if she didn’t.

 The second shock was that she was 9lbs 15 ozs.  How on earth could she have fitted inside me?  No wonder I was so big!

It’s funny what the brain latches on to and remembers in the blur of surgery and recovery.  As you’re laid there there’s only certain things that you can see.  The things that really stick out in my memory are Dominic the registrar’s extraordinarily beautiful eyes, Sarah the midwife’s fringe and the glasses of Dr Breeze who could probably play my father-in-law in the movie of his life.

 I spent what seemed like hours staring at Alexandra’s face to see who she looked like.  The general consensus was that her gorgeous perma-frown was me.  She got my huge feet.  I think she got Andrew’s hair.  Before she had seizures her reflexes were so strong.  At one point I’d got a hand cramp and I couldn’t get these tiny fingers to let my finger go.  When Andrew blew gently in her face she frowned even more.  Andrew would tickle her feet and she would move them away. 

 On that Wednesday morning as Andrew wheeled me onto the unit I was so excited to see her.  All my fears about of not bonding with the baby melted away.  No doubt if things had played in our favour she would’ve have grown up to be an extremely precocious child given her genes.

 Even though we were going through absolute hell Andrew and I had both been thinking about organ donation but not really sure how to raise it with each other.  I think we took the consultant by surprise that we had brought it up ourselves and were extremely relieved that Alexandra’s heart valves could be used.  Organ donation is something we both passionately believe in and it’s thanks to a talk at the WI that removed any squeamishness I had about it.

 The staff on the neo-natal ward were consummate professionals.  They went over and above for us by letting Andrew stay over with me and completely waiving the visiting rules which meant in addition to grandparents, Rachel and Andrew and my auntie, uncle and cousins could be with us too.  No words can really express the gratitude we have for the way in which we were treated.  It was with the utmost care and dignity at all times.  We can’t remember everyone’s names but we want to thank the nurses:  Wendy, India, and Vicky, and the doctors:  Dr Cath Harrison, Dr Kevin, Dr Amy for all that they did for us.  The NHS doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves in the press.  We both want to say that we are immensely proud of the NHS, its staff and that it needs to be used appropriately, not taken for granted; it’s to be protected and fought for.

 What we take from this awful experience is that we made a beautiful little girl.  We will keep on trying for a family and we’re going to do all the things we’ve never quite got round to so we can make her proud of us.  Starting with the kit car.

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