by Kate Polley.
At 32 weeks, after what my doctors had termed a “perfect twin pregnancy”, my life took a devastating and unexpected turn.
On the evening of my baby shower, I was rushed to the hospital. Although I was assured, that in all likelihood my waters had broken and everything would be fine, I knew that something was terribly wrong. A feeling of sheer terror and panic engulfed me as the nurses tried futilely to locate both twin’s heart beats. Only able to find one, I was rushed into theatre for an emergency C-section.
Finn, “my little survivor”, was born, healthy, weighing 1.5kgs. Sam, “my boy with wings” was born weighing 1.6 kg, perfect in every way… except for life.
My precious boy was resuscitated for nine minutes, whilst my husband watched by helplessly until finally doctor’s regained his pulse. Mercifully, still under general anesthetic, I was spared the experience.
During that awful dark night, I begged and pleaded for a miracle. None, however, was forthcoming. After twelve long, harrowing hours, Sam died peacefully in his dad’s arms. He had suffered severe blood loss, caused by an undetected cord defect, and nothing could be done to save him.
I was heartbroken, to say the least. The days which followed were a blur. I went home without my babies- no longer the proud mother expecting twins. I had a new identity – that of a bereaved parent, juggling the rawness of death with a premature baby in NICU, as well as our two elder daughters.
After a long and exhausting month in hospital, our darling Finn finally came home – it was a bittersweet moment for our family, to say the least.
Fifteen months after the twins were born, I wrote a story for Finn. I remember sitting down to record on paper, the words which had been bouncing around in my head for months and they literally tumbled onto the page. Without realising it, I had been rehearsing what I wanted to say for so long, that before I knew it, I had the twin’s story, right in front of me. Documenting Sam’s short, yet precious life was a hugely cathartic experience for me. It made his existence ‘real’ and helped ease my very broken heart.
I had the book illustrated and chose to print a few copies, for each of my children and close family, which I placed as a surprise gift under the Christmas tree.
A few months later, I posted an electronic version of the book on a private online twin loss forum I belonged to. I did so in the hope of providing comfort to other grieving families, who had provided me with so much understanding and support. The response was overwhelming.
When Sam died, I remember feeling so utterly alone – like I was the only person in the world that this could possibly have happened to. My connection with other baby loss parents from all over the world, made me realise, that this wasn’t true – that there were families in every corner of the globe trying to wade through the same murky waters of grief.
I reprinted a small quantity of my book and posted it to a few families with whom I have made a special connection. Each time I parted with a copy, my heart felt a tiny bit more at peace. By sharing my twin’s story and providing some comfort to bereaved families, Sam was making his imprint on the world. His life was both real and purposeful.
From there, the demand for the book spread and the requests for a non-twin specific version of the book, personalised with a family’s own child’s name was overwhelming. Resources for bereaved families like ourselves are so limited. I remember in those early days, trawling the internet desperately looking for books to read, in fact anything I could get my hands on that would make me feel less alone. It became apparent, whilst some excellent books do exist, that there was definitely a gap in the market.
Together with the amazing encouragement and support from my UK based publishing company, my dream of providing a resource to all bereaved families, irrespective of their circumstances, was realised.
The personalised version of the book is now being published and distributed to families all over the world. A percentage of all book sales are donated to related charities, close to my heart. It is my hope that every family who receives a copy, will be provided with a tiny bit of comfort and a glimmer of hope.
I believe that Sam exists all around me – both within my heart and in the beauty of the world which surrounds us. I hope you feel the same way about your baby too.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FULL RANGE OF PERSONALISED CHILD AND ADULT LOSS BOOKS CLICK HERE