This year should have been the best year of our lives. I have spent the year working at my new company, Boss Alien, creating a number one game for iPhone and iPad. I’ve had an incredible amount of fun, and we did a fantastic job - CSR Racing is currently the top grossing app on the UK App store, a month after we released. My wife became pregnant in October, and we have spent the year both preparing for a new addition to our family.
Elijah was born on Thursday, 19th of July. He died the next day.
This year is the worst year of my life. Nothing can capture in words just how devastating the last few weeks have been for myself and my wife.
We are lucky to have our boy, Gabriel, who has been a true shining light in our lives - without him I have no idea how we would cope. He is a distraction and a joy, and every day he fills our hearts with love and laughter.
He also reminds us, every day - every minute - of what we are missing, and what Elijah could and should have been to us.
Coming to terms with his loss is hard - the hardest thing I have ever had to do. At times it feels impossible. I will never be able to forget the events of the day he was born, and right now I can’t say that I will ever forgive some of the people involved in his birth and death for their complacency and lack of care and attention. He should be with us right now. There were many opportunities to change the course of the last couple of weeks of my wife’s pregnancy, and her labour, and ultimately his delivery. In due course, I will no doubt detail all the events, but I believe we had our boy stolen from us.
I’m furious. I’m burning inside. I have never been as angry as I am right now.
Could we have done anything differently? Of course we could. We could have done more research ourselves. We could have demanded an earlier caesarian section as soon as my wife began to show signs of high blood pressure (an indicator of pre-eclampsia). We could have done more research on the potential health effects of how she was feeling during the last two weeks of pregnancy. Knowing this, and knowing that we could have changed the outcome ourselves, makes me angry with myself. If I had just paid more attention to my wife instead of being so focused on making a stupid goddamned video game, maybe our boy would be alive. No - there’s no maybe here. He would be with us.
Truly though, I’m furious with the various doctors and midwives in whom we placed our trust and the life of our boy, and who have failed him and us. People who have a job to ensure that they support, care and advise mothers during their pregnancy, who failed to act on the signs of my wife’s blood pressure changes. Who failed to pay attention on the day, when we arrived at the hospital after her waters broke three weeks early. Who failed to pay attention to the bleeding during my wife’s labour. Who failed to properly monitor Eli for foetal distress.
When we arrived at the hospital, Elijah was alive - we will never know if he was truly well and healthy, but the only indicator we had, a heart trace about 30 minutes after we got there, showed that he was definitely alive.
The sequence of events leading to his death - leading to us withdrawing his life support - are something that I would not wish to happen to anyone. I can’t even contemplate writing them down again here. I have them detailed elsewhere, and when the time comes for investigations and questions, I’ve captured as much as I can before the memory becomes too hazy, but the crystal sharp moments - watching my wife bleed on the floor. When it became obvious that they couldn’t find a heartbeat. When he was born, breech, naturally, after us waiting three hours for a theatre to be available for surgery. When I watched the Trevor Mann staff desperately work on him for 15 minutes, throwing everything they could possibly do for him. Watching my poor boy on the ventilator with wires and tubes covering him. These moments will never leave me.
We spent a day hoping beyond hope that Eli would come through this trial. As the day progressed, it became clear that hope had gone. Despite everything they were doing, Eli wasn’t stabilising on life support, he had severe brain damage, bleeding on his lungs, heart failure. When he began going into multiple organ failure, we had to decide whether to keep trying or accept the unacceptable.
I can never forgive myself for deciding to turn off his life support.
I know it was the right thing to do, for all the right reasons, but this is a decision that no-one should ever have to make.
I know that we should not have had to make that decision. He should be alive, keeping us awake, demanding and crying and living.
I should be awake at 3am giving him a feed and changing nappies. Instead, I am awake at 3am trying to explain to myself why this void, this chasm in my heart, will never be filled with his life and his laughter and his presence.
Today is Elijah’s funeral. We had eight months to get to know him and to plan our lives with him. We had a day to see him and hold him. We have today to say goodbye. We have the rest of our lives to try and accept that he’s not here.