Alfie's Backstory

In loving memory of
Alfred (Alfie) Conor Pearman
11.10.17 – 17.10.17

It never gets any easier to sit here and try to put into words how loved, how missed and how much our son Alfie means to us. I am sitting here now listening to his songs that were played at his funeral and the pain is still as real and raw as the day that he died.

I think back as I often do to the day that I found out that I would be expecting my first baby. I can picture it all even now so clearly. I stood holding a test with butterflies in my stomach whilst calling out to my husband Ben to come into the bathroom. He came in thinking I was calling him in to get a spider what a happy surprise he got! He couldn’t believe his eyes insisting on going to get a digital test (or three) to confirm what I already knew.

The love that I felt in that instant was life changing I already knew in that moment that I would do anything for this baby that I was growing. We couldn’t wait to tell everyone our news we drove to see my mum that very night, called my dad at work to tell him and told Ben's parents who were on holiday shortly afterwards.

We had our first scare when I had only known I was pregnant for 2 days I started to bleed and was in a lot of pain. I contacted 111 who said a doctor would come to see me but then they called back in the early hours of the morning to say they wouldn’t and to see my GP. My sisters advised me to go to A&E, so we did. It was the day the NHS had been hacked and they were completing all notes on paper. We were there all day being examined and waiting then we were told we would have an early scan, the doctor said that everything looked OK but to come back in 2 weeks as it was too soon to see a heartbeat.

I remember how scared I was going back to the next scan but the relief when they said there was a heartbeat, and everything was OK. I couldn’t wait to see our baby again but I was still in a lot of pain so I was still worried but eventually even after being given the wrong antibiotics for a pregnant lady by my GP the pain went away.

I would count down the days until I would see our baby again our 12-week scan was on 7 July 2017 which was 4 days after our first wedding anniversary. I didn’t think I could be happier than I was on this day to be told that our baby was doing great. It felt such a long time before our next scan on 30 August 2017 where we found out we were having a baby boy and that everything was OK. We knew then that his name would be Alfred (Alfie) Conor Pearman. We called him after his great Granddad who had passed away in January 2017.

I was worried when I knew we were having a boy as my mum and sister had severe preeclampsia causing them to deliver early at 28 weeks.

We would often sit and think who Alfie would be like, would he have my eyes or Ben’s, would he have our dark curly hair.

I went to my GP after I was feeling a bit unwell, I explained to her as I did at all of my appointments about my mum and sister. So she took my blood pressure and said it was too high I thought this was probably because I get nervous at the doctors. She waited a while then took it again, but it was still high I had to go back the next morning to be rechecked.

I was feeling really nervous when I went back the following morning and hopeful that it would have gone down but the GP said that it hadn’t, and I should contact my midwives. I called them and was told to go down to the midwife run hospital near me. I called Ben who left work and we headed straight there. I said again to the midwife it was probably due to nerves, so the midwife connected me to the blood pressure machine and had it go off every 15 minutes automatically while she was out of the room. She tried to take my bloods but was unable to find my vein. As my blood pressure remained high, she referred me to the main hospital and booked an appointment for me to see a consultant.

I was getting more and more worried on the drive to the other hospital, once we got there the checks were repeated and my blood pressure remained higher than it should be. They managed to get bloods taken and these came back fine. They sent me home on the basis that I would be seeing a consultant shortly.

I went to my appointment with the consultant a couple of weeks later where she said that I would have had high blood pressure before my pregnancy which wasn't true as my booking blood pressure was fine.  I explained about my mum and sister to be told that they didn’t have pre-eclampsia as it wasn’t possible to have at 28 weeks. After trying to explain a few more times they did have it I gave up. The consultant put me on tablets to lower my blood pressure and said I should be monitored twice a week at the hospital and see a consultant again in 2 weeks’ time. The consultant said high blood pressure can mean that babies are underweight so i would receive a scan date in the post. When this didn't arrive i asked my midwife who said one hadn't been requested and I didn't meet the criteria to have one.

I would keep going to my appointments with my blood pressure being higher than it should be but after it was checked a few times I was allowed home if after a while it went slightly lower. One of the times I was at the hospital it was looking like they would keep me in after my blood pressure was still higher after the medication I was on. They didn’t as I had another consultant appointment the following week when I had the appointment, I saw a different consultant who doubled my blood pressure medication. I was also at the hospital a few times due to feeling unwell so I would go in to be checked over.

The following week I started feeling really unwell like I was walking on a boat and I felt dizzy. I checked the side effects of the medication and it said that it could make you feel that way. I still confirmed this was the case at my appointment with the midwife who said it would have been that. I was also getting frequent headaches, but it was advised they couldn’t be that bad as I wasn’t always taking pain relief for them.

I went to my appointment the following week when I was 26 weeks plus 2 days Ben should have been at work, but he hurt his back so came with me. I went in while he parked the car the midwife was training another midwife. This was my first CTG monitoring, shortly after the midwife came in and I could see that something wasn’t right from there way the midwife was looking at the paper. Ben got to the room around the same time was they were saying our babies’ rate was dipping meaning he was in distress.

I was scared, confused and then everything started happening really fast. I was taken to another private room and there was a lot of people in there for a small room. I had someone taking my blood pressure, someone giving me a steroid injection in my leg the doctor trying to scan me to see the baby. I had someone trying to get a drip in my hand but struggling before the doctor managed to get it at the side of my hand. I couldn’t keep up with what was going on I felt scared and kept looking over at Ben sitting on the chair a short distance away knowing that he felt the same.

The doctor scanned me and said that Alfie was really small and curled up, so they weren’t able to see how much he weighed or see him clearly, I had to go down to the scanning department. I remember being wheeled down praying that they got it wrong.

They scanned me and i was took me back to the room. The doctor was saying that Alfie didn’t have a high chance of survival I could either have a c section at the hospital now where Alfie would then need to be transferred where he could get treatment but he may not survive delivery or being transferred. I could have a magnesium drip to help his brain another steroid injection and be transferred to another hospital for a c section delivery that Alfie could be cared for there. Lastly, I could choose not to have a c section and when Alfie passed away, I would deliver naturally.

I couldn’t think straight they had a paediatric team there who were telling me lots of information about cerebral palsy and a lot of other complications that he could have if he survived. They kept saying Alfie wasn’t well he doesn’t have a high survival rating and I needed to decide now. I was told I couldn’t have a normal c section, but it would have to be classical c section which was riskier (they go in through like a normal c section but cut up the uterus internally in order to get the baby out). The doctor said this c section could mean I could haemorrhage and I may never be able to have children again. The doctor asked how old I was and kept saying I was very young, that I may not be able to have more children and that I wouldn’t be able to have a natural birth after this c section either.

I felt the doctor didn’t want me to have the c section as they felt I could have more children if I didn’t but that was already out of the question. Once I knew that a c section was Alfie’s only chance of survival I knew I would be having one I just didn’t know whether to have him there and then or try to get transferred to another hospital first before having the c section.

I was told they would come back in 5 minutes to see what I had decided. I was so scared I messaged my family on our messenger group I said I was sorry to have to say it so bluntly, but I needed help. My sister called me and went through my options where I decided to try the magnesium drip for 24 hours where they would monitor his heart rate regularly as they said he may not survive the night.

My mum and a couple of sisters came up to see us, as did Ben's brothers as his parents were in Spain. My Dad was at work, but my sisters got in contact with him and he left work to come straight to the hospital. I was on the magnesium drip and with everything going on I didn’t feel very with it. I was more scared than I had ever been in my life. I tried not to cry I tried to be strong and calm, but it was so hard. I felt like this was happening to someone else. I slept a little here and there around the checks and another steroid injection. I kept asking for his heart rate to be checked as they didn’t always do it and whether they had found a bed for me to stay. They finally found me a bed the next morning in Surrey which was over an hour away. I then had to wait for an ambulance to be ready to take me there.

Finally, I was getting in the ambulance where the midwife said to put the lights on my family and Ben's brothers followed us down there. I was then being prepared to have the c section. I was terrified and I felt more unwell than I had before.

I remember the shaky walk down to theatre with my heart pounding I was terrified I was pleading with everything that I had that Alfie would be OK. Ben was taken to put scrubs on, and I was on my own sitting on the edge of the trolley shaking. He got back while they were getting ready for the spinal block, I held his hands trying not to shake as I was told to stay still. I then had to lay back and they began the c section. I felt sick with a severe headache that I couldn’t have the light above my head I felt sick, the anaesthetist gave me a damp cloth which I pulled over my eyes to block the light out. I kept asking  is he out yet? They would keep saying not yet it felt like it took forever and the tugging was really uncomfortable as Alfie was so high up where he was so small.

They had the radio playing and I was trying to do anything to keep my mind off what was happening and the tugging sensation. I asked Ben to talk to me about anything which of course is hard when you put someone on the spot. I then heard the song Total Eclipse of the Heart playing which had the lyrics “every now and then I get a little bit terrified and then I see the look in your eyes, turn around bright eyes”. My sister who died in 2006 had the song Bright Eyes at her funeral. I turned to Ben saying he’s going to be OK once I heard that song.

They finally said he is here and being worked on by the NICU team at the end of the room. I held my breath while I waited, I asked if he was alive and they said yes. The doctor said you did the right thing by having him giving him his chance.

I was showed Alfie briefly before he was whisked down to the NICU unit I couldn’t believe how small he was, he was in a plastic bag to keep him warm with just his little head poking out and he was perfect. I was then finished closed up and taken to a room to recover. My family came in to see me and I told them about the song that had been played. Ben's family came in as well to see me before everyone went home.

I was taken to a delivery ward where some people were being monitored but most were there because they had their babies. I laid there hearing them cry when all I wanted was to see my baby, I had no idea if he was still OK or not or what was happening. They wouldn’t let Ben see him until he had been connected to everything he needed. Ben went as soon as he could taking pictures for me to see when he came back.

I wanted to see Alfie, but I was told that I was unable to until I had some food, sleep and the spinal block had worn off. I think I dozed off for a short while but as soon as I could move my legs I asked to go and see Alfie again. The nurse got me a wheelchair I was in a lot of pain trying to get up, but I didn’t care I was finally going to see my baby. Ben wheeled me down saying how small he looked, and he was on a lot of machines trying to prepare me. I had seen pictures of my nephew being hooked up to machines so I thought I would be prepared but it’s something else entirely in person especially when that is your child lying there. I wanted to cuddle him, and I wanted to kiss his little face, but I couldn’t all I could do was hold his tiny hand.

I wasn’t able to stay very long as the morphine I was on made me feel so drowsy and not with it. The doctor had said to get up walking about slowly as soon as I could, so I was up walking the day after I had Alfie and the catheter was removed.

I was down with Alfie every second I could be which didn’t feel like much when I had to hand express every 2 hours which was really hard as my milk wasn’t in yet. Thankfully a kind nurse was there to help me, and I felt like I was doing something for Alfie who could have tiny drops of my breast milk. I would be called back for medication and for my scar to be checked which I hated as I just wanted to be there with Alfie all of the time. I hated when I was taking morphine and I wasn’t able to remember the information the NICU staff were explaining to me about his care. I stopped taking the morphine due to this after a couple of days.

The doctors would explain to us how poorly Alfie was, and they didn’t want us to get our hopes up as he was living minute by minute as things could change so quickly. Alfie was fighting the breathing machine that was trying to help him breathe which showed how stubborn he already was as he was trying to breathe independently.

Ben's mum and dad came back from Spain as early as they could driving straight to the hospital to see Alfie before they had even gone home.

When Alfie was alive for 3 days, they explained that he may need surgery as his tummy was extending and becoming swollen meaning he couldn’t be given any more milk. They explained he would need to go to a hospital in London to be assessed. They advised that he may be too weak for the journey so again we were so scared. The NICU unit tried to get me released and readmitted at the new hospital but the ward I was on refused to discharge me. I wanted to discharge myself but was advised against it.

It broke me to see Alfie being taking away so tiny in a travel incubator when I didn’t know if I would ever see him alive again. My family got me some food and my sister offered to stay with me, but I refused I was trying not to cry and be strong, but I was ready to break down. When I was left on my own, I allowed myself to break down between expressing and medication. They gave me morphine again which helped me to get some sleep.

I was terrified that Alfie would die and I wouldn’t be there when he needed me. The following morning, they said they would look to discharge me so I kept buzzing asking when this would be so I could get to my baby. I broke down to the doctor begging her to discharge me so I could leave. I had all of my things packed away ready for my mum and dad to pick me up.

We went straight to London and the drive was so painful, but I wanted to get there as fast as possible Ben kept asking me how long I was going to be but saying that everything was OK with Alfie. When I got their Ben took me straight up to see Alfie where he told me he had been up and down, but he didn’t know how to tell me. He told me that he had stabilised a bit when I was on my way there.they said he knew his mummy was on his way to see him.

Alfie seemed to be up and down from this time onwards my heart was constantly beating out of my chest and I didn’t want to leave him. I had to keep leaving him to express and to sleep as everyone kept saying I needed to look after myself in order to be there for him, but it was so hard.

I had to leave him for an appointment to get my staples removed as they had been left for so long. I went to the hospital down the road which was full of pregnant ladies talking excitedly. I just wanted to be back with my baby, I had to register and it was taking ages then my sister found me when the nurse went off to do something to say I needed to get back to the hospital quickly as Alfie wasn’t doing very well. I rushed back to the hospital leaving my notes behind a nurse ran after me to give them to me.

He then started to slowly improve again so we went back to Ronald McDonald for some sleep to receive a call early the next morning that Alfie wasn’t doing well, and we needed to get back to the hospital as soon as could. We quickly dressed and raced to the hospital Ben kept asking me to slow down as I was still in pain walking, but I couldn’t I had to get to Alfie.

They said things weren’t looking good and they would get him out of the incubator for us to hold him. I couldn’t stop crying I kept trying to be brave but I couldn’t do it I felt like I’d never stop crying they placed this tiny perfect baby into my arms and my heart shattered that I wouldn’t get to see him grow up. I wouldn’t see his first smile his first tooth or his first steps. I kept kissing his little face over and over telling him how much we loved him. The nurses called our parents to tell them to come up as Alfie wasn’t doing well.

The priest came to baptise him, and Ben's brother was the first one up. I can’t remember who was next but soon most of our families were there. Everyone was heartbroken you just had to look around to see the pain that was on everyone’s faces. I held Alfie for a long time while they would still do checks around us. I didn’t want to let him go ever I was trying to angle his head higher than his body like in the incubator in the hope that it would help him get better and the nurse said they had never seen it before, where a baby had been that ill but then started to improve. Ben held him too before they placed him back in the incubator to warm him up.

My heart soared and I prayed that this meant he would be OK. I kept watching the machines as I knew by now what a lot of them were for. I kept watching the blood pressure numbers as they kept going down meaning his medication and oxygen needed to be adjusted I would hold my breath and plead silently and it would then slowly start to go back up. We could see how unstable he was by looking at the machines. We were still hoping and praying for a miracle.

They took some blood to test but came back to say that his organs were starting to fail, they advised the only thing keeping him alive was the machines now and he wouldn’t get better. We knew then it was time to say goodbye. As we had always said as long as Alfie was fighting, we would fight but if he ever grew too tired, we would let him go. It broke our hearts to confirm they could turn the machines off I held him while they disconnected them. I kept trying to angle him like before in the hope that his stats would improve.

Once all of the machines were disconnected, I thought he had passed away instantly. I carried Alfie carefully as we were taken to a side room where our families were and as soon as I opened the door, I broke down sobbing. I was given a chair to sit in and my dad put his arms around me while I held my tiny baby. I knew then and there that I would never be the same again that a part of my heart would be with Alfie always and that I would never be whole again. I knew I would never know true happiness because he would always be missing from our lives but never from our hearts.

I then asked if anyone wanted to hold Alfie and my dad was the first to hold him before passing him to Ben's dad then around to our whole family. He came back to me and shortly after the doctor came in and said that he still had heartbeat.

I quietly sang you are my sunshine to him as i had often done before and after a while I again let everyone hold him. He was back with me when the doctor checked him and said that he still had a heartbeat. My sister said if he still has a heartbeat isn’t there something you can do. My heart raised a tiny bit in hope, but the doctor shook her head sadly saying there was nothing more that could be done for him.

I held him until she came in again saying he had passed away. I felt like the world stopped the room was silent as I tried to commit to memory every inch of his beautiful little face, hands and toes. To remember the feel of him in my arms Ben asked if we could have some time alone and everyone left the room. Ben took Alfie in his arms and my heart broke seeing the pain that he was in. He had been looking after us both trying to do all he could, but I could see the affect it had on him not being able to take the pain away from either of us.

I felt like I had failed Alfie as my body wasn’t able to carry him for longer, I wasn’t able to protect him and I still struggle with this feeling even now. The hardest part was knowing that after we tucked him into the cot bed, they placed him in, said goodnight and kissed him goodbye that it would be the first and last time we got to tuck him into bed.

Alfie would be 3 years old on 11 October 2020 and we are still just as heartbroken as the day he died. We still miss him every second of every day, the pain hurts just as much as it always has it doesn’t lessen you just learn to carry it differently.

We have his pictures up all around the house and we speak of him often we are so incredibly proud of our son. Alfie has a little sister now called Aisling she knows all about her big brave brother Alfie. It’s hard and we can’t help but think how they would play together we would give anything to have Alfie back with us again. Our family will never be complete there will always be one missing and he will not be forgotten.

Rest in peace our little sunshine until we meet again. Mummy and Daddy love you so much baby xxx