Every single day, in fact sometimes every hour we are faced with decisions. From when you first wake up, deciding what to have on your toast, what to wear, to the bigger ones of who to spend you’re life with or when to buy a house.
For parents these decisions seem more daunting, from whether to immunise your children, what qualities are most important for you in raising them, to will you let them get a tattoo, or stay out past midnight.
We have faced some decisions since the birth of our boys that no person, let alone a parent should have to make.
I decided to wait an hour, feeling what my body was doing as it went into labour, because I didn’t know what labour was. Would that hour have bought us enough time to slow the labour and change the path of our life?
We decided to say yes to the cord clamping trial, Charlie was clamped immediately and Oliver was delayed 60 seconds. Would that 60 seconds have changed Charlie’s outcome?
We have decided that if there is any chance of breast feeding our children then we will work hard towards that chance, so although I don’t have a baby at home to get up to, I wake in the night to express milk. There’s something magical in never sleeping more than four hours in a row when you have your perfect baby to hold when you wake, it takes a different type of energy to wake in the night to an electric pump.
These decisions were fast and at the time felt easy.
None of them come close to the decision we had to make for Charlie David.
When you make a decision there’s always a process, weighing up the pros and cons, (you know what a fan I am of lists) cost-benefit analysis. And then there’s your gut feeling, which direction just feels good.
In making our decision for Charlie we each took a different approach. For those of you that don’t know, Charlie suffered a significant intraventricular haemorrhage (brain bleed) on his third day of life, to both sides of his brain. William read and read and read, studies, research articles, forums, getting as much knowledge and as many numbers as he could, to in some way make sense of this thing that we had been forced to think about.
I didn’t read, or if I did it was limited, I talked to people, to friends, family, doctors, nurses, practitioners, for their thoughts, for what they would do, and I tried to feel what my gut was telling me.
There will always be people who would have made a different decision to us, there will be people who disagree with our decision, who think we didn’t give Charlie a chance, and there won’t be a day in our lives that we don’t wonder what would have happened if we had chosen differently, that we don’t regret having to make that choice.
But we also know that we did the right thing for Charlie, and the right thing for Oliver and the right thing for us.
As parents you have a manic need to keep your children safe and well. We knew that we wanted Charlie to have a life of freedom, we didn’t want him to struggle, physically and emotionally as he watched his brother live such a different life to him. We wanted to spare him pain, and suffering and we desperately didn’t want him to wish we had done something when we had the ability to.
In the end part of this decision was taken from us when the medical team sat us down and made their recommendations. But I think they made these recommendations based on where we were heading with our decision, a joint process.
So on Saturday the 13th of June 2015 we turned off Charlie’s ventilator and we held our boys and we sat with him. They thought he may take a couple of days to stop breathing, but he left us over about half an hour, he was ready to go.
We have his ashes at home with us, and one day his mum, dad and brother will choose somewhere special and let him float away.
We will be faced with many more decisions over our life with these boys and we hope that we will be able to make the right ones. We can only hope that the worst decision has passed, and that one day, when we explain it to Oliver he will understand.