My name is Kirsty and I am Louis’ mammy, founding trustee of 4Louis and this is Louis’ story.
On 6th April I visited my GP with a migraine and was told after three tests, that I was pregnant, I couldn’t believe it! Every emotion hit me during the following five minutes. Emotions were high, scared, excited, worried and happy. I called my partner Michael, concerned about what he was going to say, which was pretty much, “Oh, ok…. well… erm… so….” After agreeing with Michael that we would let everyone know together, I went off to my mum's to try and sleep off my migraine. However, the excitement was too much and I couldn’t sleep, so I called my mum up and told her the exciting news. She was over the moon and so excited for me, and couldn’t wait for me to tell my dad.
I went home to meet Michael so we could tell his mum and dad. “You're going to be grandparents!” They couldn’t believe it and were really happy for us. By the next morning everyone knew that I was pregnant, and Peanut the Facebook baby hit everyone’s computer screens. Everyone was very excited and happy for us both, and followed all our updates through-out my pregnancy.
We first met baby Peanut on 22 April 2009, when we had our first scan, which revealed I was 14 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I loved every minute of seeing my tiny baby moving about on the screen, and could not believe that we had created a tiny life that was now growing inside of me. A name! We needed a name;- for a boy we decided on Louis Robert Joseph, and for a girl… well… we couldn't find one we liked, but there was plenty of time for thinking of names.
Then my bump grew bigger, and I experienced butterflies first as Peanut started to move, and then regularly kicked, punched and jumped. Very quickly, we started to get ourselves organised, moving stuff out of our wardrobe and even our bedroom to make space for all the clothes, nappies, wipes etc… that we started to buy in for the forthcoming new arrival.
On 5 August I went for my 20-week scan, where baby's measurements would be taken and we would find out if we were having a boy or girl. The midwife could not get baby Peanut's measurements but she confirmed we were expecting a little boy. Louis Robert Joseph.
Louis could now be seen moving, from one side to the other, kicking within me, it was the best feeling ever to experience this tiny life inside of me move. It was now time to decorate Louis’ nursery in readiness for his arrival. Setting up the cot, putting clothes in the wardrobe, and putting up a Winnie-the-Pooh themed mural that had taken my mum two weeks to draw. The excitement grew, the weeks passed by so quickly, and the countdown began: 89 days… 54 days… 20 days…
On 6 December 2009, while out for tea with friends, things started to go wrong when - I stood up and the pains started. “Labour? I’m actually going into labour!” . As directed by my midwife, I took two paracetamol and had a hot bath, but by morning the pains had not subsided. After trying to contact the midwives many times, we travelled to the hospital with my mum and Michael. We sat in the Maternity Day Care Unit, waiting for a midwife to come and see us, and while we sat there we could hear the heart-beats of all the babies around us. I was finally seen and the gel was cold on my belly. As the midwife started to search… Silence…. I looked at my mum - and my pulse raced, where was the "thump-thump-thump" of Louis' heart-beat?! The midwife bustled off and came with another monitor, yet again silence...
We were ushered off in to a side room where we waited for the doctor to come and do a scan to find Louis' heartbeat… Instead, we heard him say: “I’m sorry… But he has gone…”
“NO! NOT MY BABY BOY!”
Michael fell on to the bed and was silent, while my mum fell to the floor screaming. I had to get out as I just wanted to smash the room up, to scream and shout! Outside, Michael called his mum, “We’ve lost Louis.” I called Michael's dad. “Hello?”
“Paul...,” I said through tears - and fell to the floor. Michael took the phone from me and let his dad know that our little boy had died.
Back at my mum's we waited for Michael's mum and dad. We were all in tears and could not believe this had happened to us! Things like this just don’t happen anymore. We returned to the hospital, where we were told what was going to happen, and I was given a tablet and asked to return on Thursday.
On the morning of 10 December 2009 I returned to Sunderland hospital with Michael, my parents and his parents, not really knowing what to expect, yet knowing that this is the day when we would meet our little boy, yet would also have to say good-bye. We were led to a delivery room, at the furthest end of the corridor, where we got our selves comfortable and waited to meet Louis. At 2:10pm I went in to full-blown labour… I was given large amounts of morphine and gas and air, to the point where I didn’t know where I was or what was happening. Just over four hours later I delivered our beautiful little boy, Louis - he was so perfect, it made it even harder to understand why this had happened. We took lots of pictures of Louis, took ink prints, clay impressions of his tiny hands, feet, and dressed him in lots of little outfits. We all loved spending time with our little angel. Although this was a sad time, the joy of meeting our little boy took over the grief we all felt for his death. On Friday we took Louis home to my mum's, where he met all our close family and friends, and we took more photos. My dad even took Louis to the Stadium of Light, like he had always promised to. Then we headed back to the hospital to say our goodbyes and have our last kisses and cuddles with Louis.
The next 12 days were terrible; we were just waiting, to lay baby Louis to rest. Finally, on 22nd December, we held a Tigger - themed cremation where every one wore something orange and we set off orange balloons. Even Louis' casket was Winnie the Pooh themed, with beautiful pictures of Winnie and friends playing on the clouds. The service was beautiful, with a reading of a poem by my dad, and a reading written by Michael's mum Carol about, her memories of me being pregnant with Louis. We could not believe the incredible support we received from family and friends..
We requested donations instead of flowers at Louis funeral and this give us the base for 4Louis, we started to develop our boxes and ideas for our fundraising. We set up our Facebook page and our website, and watched as 4Louis grew and the awareness of such a taboo subject rapidly spread across Facebook.
The next month was hard, coming to terms with the death of Louis. Michael and I worked hard to not let it come between us, and it actually made our relationship stronger as we talked a lot more, spent much more time together than we had in a long time and even spent lots of time with our parents too.