I was only 16 when I found out I was pregnant and had recently broken up with her father so it was really scary. I had sickness for the first 18 weeks and ended up hospitalised with E.coli at around 5/6 months which nearly caused me to miscarry, so not the easiest pregnancy.
My daughter arrived one day before her due date after 5 days of slow labour followed by 4 hours of active labour. She was born completely naturally at Bradford Royal. I named her Hazel Eve.
When I first saw her I thought that I had never seen anything so precious in my life. I knew what my life was for now. I was absolutely meant to be a mum.
24 hours later we went home. Due to family pressures on both sides I actually ended up back with Hazel’s dad and living with him when she was born so he was around to help. My mum came and helped us a lot too as he worked shifts so when he was on nights she stayed with us.
Everything was just a blur of nappy changing and breastfeeding. I was so determined to prove to everyone that I wasn’t going to be a stereotypical teen mum that I tried to be superwoman instead.
A year later, we went on a day trip to a farm with the local children’s centre. She spent the morning chasing roosters and stroking guinea pigs and having a brilliant time. After we got home I put her in her cot for her 5pm nap, the same as every day while I made her tea. I went to get her at 5.30pm and she was blue.
I had the monitor with me the entire time, there wasn’t a single warning sign. I pulled her out her cot, called 999 and started CPR. I’d done infant first aid when she was about 6 months old as she’d had a nasty chest infection. The operator kept count for me and I didn’t stop til the paramedics were over me ready to take over without missing a beat. As soon as she was in their hands I fell apart, screaming and crying and begging her to wake up.
We were taken in the ambulance and blue lighted to the hospital. Her dad worked there so met us at the entrance as we went into resus.
They tried to resuscitate for about 40 minutes. They kept telling me that the machines may show something but that it didn’t mean anything, it could be what they were injecting her with, I just kept begging her to wake up.
When they stopped they told that they had tried everything they could for as long as they could, but it was time to let her go.
I was allowed to sit with her and hold her. I spent about 2 hours telling her it wasn’t a funny joke, that she had to wake up now, that I needed her to wake up.
When I was finally taken home I couldn’t go into the house. I couldn’t face it. My family were all abroad so we ended up staying at my in-laws. I had a strained relationship with them so spent the night in silence staring at the ceiling making deals with the universe so that when I woke up she’d be back with me and it would all have been some cosmic mistake. My family flew home as soon as they could and other family members travelled over from further afield to make sure I wasn’t alone.
The next morning I threw myself into planning a funeral as beautiful as my baby girl was. We had an outdoor ceremony. I read the poem I said to her every night, the mums from her playgroup all sang her favourite song with me, and I hand-folded 3,000 pieces of butterfly confetti, so that everyone that came could scatter it over her instead of soil, so they fluttered as they fell.
It wasn’t until four months later in August that we had the official hearing after the inquest. There was a man sat in the pews that looked official and never introduced himself to the family as we went in. My dad actually asked him who he was afterwards and it turned out he was from the local paper, they were going to print Hazel’s cause of death without even telling us. I spent the next 24 hours calling the paper and essentially attacking their social media trying to stop them, but they still did it, just without her name. I felt violated.
Having an actual cause, hearing it said out loud that there was absolutely nothing I could have done, gave me a little peace, but didn’t completely convince me that there wasn’t something I could have done, a way I could have known what was going to happen and prevented it.
When I fell pregnant again with Ivy Olivia, I was absolutely terrified, even though it was a planned pregnancy. But Adam – her dad and my fiancé – is absolutely amazing. He’s always been incredibly supportive and helps me with things like decorating Hazel’s grave for Christmas and her birthday. He knew that he needed to support me with the anxiety that would come with having another child.
There’s not a wall or surface in our house that doesn’t have photos of Hazel on it. Ivy knows who she is and we tell her all the stories about her sister. I have her handprint tattooed in the same spot between my tummy and ribs where she put her hand through my muscle when I was pregnant. We have windmills in the garden and whenever they spin we tell Ivy that that’s Hazel saying hello. I light a lot of candles and talk to her when the flame flickers I know she’s listening.