The day the whole world went away

It was all very sudden. We had only just begun to prepare for induction in two days’ time and now, just hours after we had left the hospital, we were on our way back.

Making our way numb through the hospital corridors, past the hateful mothers-to-be merrily puffing away before they returned to the maternity ward to give birth to live children, we were ushered to a quiet room tucked away from the main ward.

Despite having prior warning that we were coming the room wasn’t ready so there was an eternity of faffing before we could get started. It would be our base camp for the next few days. A self-contained bubble designed to minimise the need to go into the main ward.

One of the things that TV and movies get wrong about labour and birth is the waiting. It’s always so quick. This is probably due to the fact that watching people pace around and chat nonsense (“do you want some crisps? No? *rummages in pockets, produces mysterious package* What about strawberry laces? I have strawberry laces. What do you mean they look like a canula?! Ugh”) doesn’t make for compelling viewing. Having said that One Born Minute does exactly that and plenty of people watch that so maybe they should.

We had to constantly struggle to get the staff to take us seriously. Whereas in a healthy pregnancy she would have been checked to see progression in this case they only checked at the point before the epidural was fitted despite multiple family members having to intervene. With contractions usually there is a trade-off that the pain will result in a good outcome but here there were to be no healthy baby boys at the end.

Whilst the labour itself was relatively quick there was still lots of waiting. Waiting for nurses to take bloods and blood pressure. Waiting for equipment to be located made the hunt for a blood pressure monitor feel like a trainee being asked to get a ‘long stand’.

Even with all the waiting there wasn’t time to be ready. Before I knew what was happening it was time to change into scrubs and get to theatre for delivery. Although she had finally managed to get her long asked for epidural she was still expected to move onto the surgical bed until one of the surgeons saw sense and helped.

Once in there I still didn’t know what was going on. They put a screen up to block the view but a badly placed light meant that my wife could still see everything and had to ask for it to be moved.

My wife was heavily sedated and dropping fast and I panicked thinking she may die. I tried to keep her awake when my wife was so exhausted she just wanted to sleep. She saw the panic in my eyes and fought against the tiredness until the anaesthetist finally told me that it would be ok to let her drift.

I clutched at hands and mopped brows whilst the surgeons worked at the grim task of delivering our dead sons all the while they chatted about their new fucking iPhone. I was glad when they got splashed when the second set of waters went (and hit the wall too!). I get the need for gallows humour in medicine but that was not the time. That was taking the piss.

Once the babies were delivered it was back to the room to wait for them. Looking back that was a really hurtful decision. At least then they may have been warm when we first held them.

A nurse came in with a moses basket and our two boys dressed in what should have been their going home outfits.


They had been cleaned up from the birth but were still a little bloody from their injuries. I have no great faith that they had been delivered with any delicacy. They weighed practically nothing and their outfits swamped them. As I held my son for the first time a trickle of blood leaked from his mouth. No-one ever told us about the blood.  It just kept on coming until I just absent mindedly wiped when needed. Of the two of them he was the smallest. Almost immediately we started to build stories for them. The smaller was the bruiser of the two whilst his bigger brother was the gentle giant.


We took it turns to hold them both and pretend that this was ok, that this was what proud new parents did. We worried we weren’t holding them right and that we might drop them. Normal healthy parenty concerns.
No one showed us what to do. We practiced swaddling without a clue what we were doing. In the end we settled for a burrito style approach. That night I slept on the camp bed with my hand resting about the basket unwilling to let go.

I do remember the bizarre need to accompany a nurse with our boys across the ward to find a set of scales. I have no idea why they didn’t just bring the scales to us rather than make us slink through the maternity ward afraid that I might bump into a new mother and scare her with our tiny unmoving children.

I was the only one of us to see them naked. My wife only knew that they were boys because I had told her. It felt like no-one really knew what to do with us. One of the few times any of the ward staff came to check on us was when we were all laughing so much they thought we had gone into mass hysteria.

It wasn’t all bad. We did have welcome visits from our consultant and main midwife amongst the revolving door of people walking into the ward to see how we were doing and pay their respects to the boys. It’s a shame that they would then be replaced by dull-eyed jobsworths with the emotional connection of a sponge that failed to take bloods properly let alone acknowledge our loss with any care or respect.

We took crap photos using our crappy camera phones and the chuck away number that was included in the memory box provided for bereaved parents.

There are some truly heart breaking photos in there along with some unintentionally funny ones. The photos follow their own sort of timeline and it’s interesting to see that you can pick up on changes in body language even in the blurriest photos where it becomes clear when we get tired of having our children passed around for photos and make it obvious that we wanted our time with them. Alone. Sadness was slowly being replaced by a growing irritation at the constant interruptions.

Eventually our patience wore thin and when asked “is there anything I can do” we screamed in unison, “YES. GET. OUT”.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. My heart goes out to both of you as consolation for having no words good enough to ease your pain. I’m so sorry your beauties didn’t make it home. What an amazing post, full of raw, emotional honesty! Thank you for sharing Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thank you for reading. It’s one of the harder posts to read and find so I’m glad you took the time to read and comment.


  2. Oh my. My heart breaks for you and your amazing wife and what you have been through. This post is so well written. So down to earth and raw yet beautiful for it. Thank you for sharing your wonderful boys. Sarah x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Biola 'Leye says:

    Words fail me.

    Thanks for sharing this DAY with us, they are so beautiful…yes,the tense is deliberate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thank you. That means a lot to me.


  4. skinnyandsingle says:

    Wow. I am so sad and sorry for the loss of your wee boys. Please take this hug and share it with your wife.

    I’m just so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ljdove23 says:

    There are no words are there? This made me so sad though, your experience sounds absolutely heartbreaking, as of course it would be, but to not even get to hold your boys while they were still warm breaks my heart. I was very “lucky”, although nobody would associate that word with what we went through, that I got to hold Joseph straight after, we got to feel the warmth of him against our chests and we bathed him and dressed him, just as we did with our others. We had twenty four hours with him, before they had to take him away as his body was deteriorating in the heat, there were no cold cots at the time and I wasn’t at all ready to say goodbye.
    Your boys are perfect, I am so, so sorry that your time with them was so short, it will never make sense to me why our babies couldn’t stay, sometimes life is just so very cruel. Much love xxx #stayclassy

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s hard to know what to even say after reading this – I am beyond sorry for your loss and you are amazingly strong for writing about it. Sending love and light xx #stayclassy

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry for your loss, and I am sorry for the doctors/midwives that were disrespectful to you and your wife. I am sorry for the people who do not seem to possess empathy. I cannot believe how rude and inconsiderate the doctors were during the surgery, talking about iPhones! I’m shocked. How could they be so cold and disconnected when their job is so personal? I’m glad to hear that you were laughing at one point, even though it may have been nerves or lack of sleep, etc. I have no idea how I would handle that situation but you sound like you and your wife are very strong and did it with grace (despite the doctors/midwives). Thank you for sharing with #StayClassy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thanks for reading. It is one of the hardest things I’ve written and reading it back now sets off a whole range of emotions.

      Thanks for hosting and sharing.


  8. This was hard to read, I knew it was going to be. I am so sorry for your loss, both of you. I can’t even begin to understand how it must be. You have written this so honestly, so brutally. Its really affected me. You know there are other people who have or are going through this and a small minority like you are actually talking about it. This post is so valuable, thank you. #stayclassy

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was not steeled yet this morning when I read this. I knew I should have waiting but I wanted to read your story. I cried for you and your wife as I cried for me and my husband. Once again your words echoed our story. Much Much love my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      I’m sorry. I should put on a warning on these things.

      I just read it back to myself and it caught me off guard. It sent me back to that day but at a distance at the same time.


  10. I feel so sad for you and your wife. You went through hell and I’m just so sorry. I cannot imagine the pain you guys experienced and the thought that some staff were less than respectful is just terrible. I can’t believe they were talking about their new phones as they delivered the boys. I know that silence wouldn’t have been great either but it just seems so insensitive. Thank you for sharing and Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Emma says:

    just completely heartbreaking what you and your wife have been through. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Suzi Bamblett says:

    Hi Richard
    So I’ve found your blog.. I shall dip in over coming weeks. This post particularly brought back lots of memories – my son in law cradling our boys in his arms as he examined every millimetre of their bodies – imprinting them on his memory. Huge hugs to you and your wife – and I owe you a tissue. Sue x

    Liked by 1 person

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