Tilly was born at 0056 on Saturday 26 May 2018. I’m sure you know that already. But I knew because they announce it, and they write it on the board. It also stops the giant clock on the wall. It is unambiguous.
But the time of death is different. Less clear cut.
They don’t actually tell you that, at the time. You find out later.
When Charlotte went into labour, we knew what the likely outcome would be. And when they started the section, with dozens of trained professionals in the room, we also knew that we were unlikely to spend much time with our child.
In fact, shortly after she was born, the fantastic and utterly empathetic neonatal consultant came over to tell me, as considerately as he could, that he would give our daughter comfort care so she could spend some time with us.
We knew what that meant.
They did that, and after a few, agonisingly long minutes, they brought our living, breathing daughter over for Charlotte and I to cradle.
We knew what this was. We knew we didn’t have long. But this was the most important few minutes of my life. At that point, we saw her chest moving up and down, and Charlotte got to feel her precious breath on her face.
This was borrowed time. She wasn’t going to stay with us, and she couldn’t stay breathing.
So at some point – perhaps when I was escorted out of the room, so they could clean up Charlotte and transfer her to the suite for parents like us – she stopped breathing; disappearing as quickly as she arrived.
But that didn’t stop us spending time with her. Nor did it stop us embracing her, loving her; longing for her.
Eventually we were told that she passed at 0130, meaning we got 34 precious minutes with Tilly. Not much longer than an episode of a soap, but every bit as much of an emotional roller coaster.
One I wouldn’t change for anything.
This blog was particularly hard to write, and hard for Charlotte and I to talk about – but I also knew it was one I had to write. It was the part of the journey that will always haunt me.