After the blood patch I was returned to my room where my husband and sons were waiting for me. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see their cheeky little smiling faces. I actually felt my shoulders drop and the tension release.
It was miserable outside again. Grey and cloudy and the wind howled and rattled the shutters on my windows. I was still in a lot of pain from the blood patch and was not able to move very well by myself, which was a shame as all I wanted to do was pick up my two boys and squeeze them until they burst.
My eldest had bought me a bunch of daffodils he had picked with our friend who had looked after them two nights before. Daffodils are my favourite flowers. To me they represent spring, and new life and opportunity. Sadly these ones were dead already, their heads hanging miserably and their petals limp and brown. But we put them into a bottle of water anyway!
My youngest son looked perplexed at all the drips feeding into me. He asked “Are you well yet, Mummy.”
“Not quite,” I replied, “But very soon.”
“If I had a magic wand, Mummy, like Harry Potter, “ he said sweetly, “I would say ‘occulus reparo’ and make you all better.” Love him. His beautiful innocence warms me.
We had hoped to take Arran’s little body home with us and have him cremated if possible. This was mainly for our eldest son, Justin, who has found the loss of not just Arran, but our previous baby as well, quite challenging on his sensitive soul.
However, as Arran was still fairly young in gestation, our attempts at finding anywhere to have him cremated or perhaps allocating a small plot in our local crematory, were unsuccessful. After a lot of thought, my husband and I decided to allow the hospital to cremate Arran. We would not receive the ashes, but at least we would know he was in good hands, as we had all been looked after impeccably since this whole nightmare had begun. Besides, we had photos and memories of Arran to keep him alive in our hearts.
Justin was asking a lot of questions about Arran. He was desperate to see Arran. We had already decided that was not a good idea, but that if in years to come he wished to see the photos, he would be able to. We agreed he could see one photo which I had edited which did not show the anencephaly, just our precious baby smiling and asleep with his hand rested under his jaw line. I had changed the tone of the photo so the blood and red of Arran’s skin was not visible. Justin looked at the photo with pure love, which bought a heart wrenching tear to my eye.
Both boys had made beautiful pictures for Arran which I agreed to put in the box with Arran when the time came to say goodbye.
We had until 1800hrs that evening to say goodbye to Arran. My husband went first, with Mary Poppins, upstairs to the labour ward whilst I stayed with the boys. A short while later they came for me. Justin wept as I was leaving the room. He wanted to come and say goodbye to his baby brother or sister. My heart broke for him and I held him close and stroked his hair.
Arran was presented in the same waterproof pad as he had done the day prior. His body was cold as I lifted his precious soul and wrapped him warmly in a crochet blanket I had finished making the night before. I’d also made him a wee crocheted hat, which was far too big, but I put that next to him. He may need it on his travels, to protect his vulnerable exposed head and to keep him warm. Whilst I did this, I played Danny Gokey’s song ‘Masterpiece” on my phone as I told my little Arran just how much of a masterpiece he was to us, and how much he was loved.
Then I just held him in my hands, in his blanket, as I played “All the Stars” by Ed Sheeran, and I sung the lullaby to my baby. To my precious angel who was now to become a star. The words of Ed Sheeran’s song resonated within me and were perfect for that moment, and perfect for my Arran. I struggled to sing the words as tears of love cracked my voice.
I was sad. Sad for the lost life of our baby. Sad for our future without Arran in it. Sad for the milestones and cherished memories we would not share.
Yet I was happy. Happy for the blessing of pregnancy which so many women never experience. Happy for the peacefulness in which our Arran entered the World. Happy for the gift of having this beautiful soul share my World, if only for a few months. Happy to have seen his smile and capture that in a photograph which we can keep forever. Happy for the love. Pure unconditional and overwhelming love.
I had not finished the song when the midwife came back and asked if we were ready. I would never be ready to say goodbye to my baby. But we could not freeze time, and even if we could, what good would that do. Life goes on, and we have to go on with it. We just need to find a way to go on, and keep Arran alive in our hearts as we do so.
The song continued to play as Mary Poppins took Arran in his blanket and placed him lovingly in a little bag which she sealed. She did it all with such tenderness and dignity for the little life inside. She then placed the bag inside a wooden box, slightly bigger than a shoe box, and I handed her the drawings that Justin and Kerr had made, which she placed gently in the box next to Arran. I remember looking at the time. It was 17:33.
She bought the box to my side and looked at me with a compassion in her eyes that spoke a million apologies and sincere condolences. It was time. I nodded.
The floodgates opened, and the tears fell as she slotted the lid on Arran’s tiny coffin and he was concealed from my view, for the last time. Like the curtains closing at the end of a theatre show, or heavy eyelids closing at the end of the night. The lid closing symbolised the end of this chapter. But not the end of Arran’s memory or the love we feel for him. Oh no. Arran is my child. He is a part of our family. He is part of us. And as such, we will keep his memory and our love for him alive, every day and for the rest of our lives and until we are reunited. I promise you that, my love.
I put on a brave face when returned to my room. I didn’t want the boys to see me crying or to distress them in any way. I hugged Justin and told him that Arran loved his pictures and that they would forever stay with him. Previously the boys had seen soft cuddly stuffed animals which they had been begging my husband for. I asked my husband to buy these toys, and at this moment I gave them to my boys, as a gift from Arran to his two big brothers. The boys were so happy. Justin has even named his, Arran and said he will cuddle it every night and think of his little brother / sister in the sky.
Kerr asked me, “Is Arran in the sky now, Mummy?”
I nodded, “Yes. Yes, Arran is a star now.”
Just then Justin shrieked and said, “Wow look at the daffodils!”
We all looked round at the daffodils he had bought me just an hour or so before. They had transformed completely and had lifted their heads and opened their once limp and sorry petals. They sat proudly in the bottle, glowing and brimming with golden yellow; full of life and hope.
“I don’t believe it, “ said my husband looking confused, “Are they the same flowers?”
It’s a sign, I thought, and I smiled. Little Arran’s sign to us that life does go on, and that with it comes hope and new beginnings. We all sat and stared at the daffodils with a song in our heart.
“Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you, “ said my husband, “You missed a rainbow whilst you were gone.” He passed me his phone with a picture of a beautiful rainbow reaching from the sky to the horizon just beyond the hospital.
And the time of the photo. 1733… xxx
Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly… and our angel Arran may no longer be with us in body, but his spirit is all around us, in the sunshine’s rays, in the twinkling of the brightest star, in the miraculous blooming of daffodils and in the colourful arch of a rainbow bridge from the heavens.
Forever in our hearts