Dads Grieve Too – Poppy

Poppy’s Story 28/10/16-31/10/16
I want to thank Hannah for giving me the opportunity to share this on her Dad’s Grieve Too series. It’s so so important that Dad’s get their voices out and their stories shared. It really does help others to feel not so alone.

So this is the story of my beautiful daughter Poppy Evie-Anne Goodchild.
For as long as I can remember I’d always wanted to be a Dad. I really felt it was my main purpose in life to be the best Dad I can be. I’d met the girl of my dreams, we’d bought our house, we’d got married and now we were expecting our first child.
On 28th October 2016 it all started. Emily went into labour and by 1pm we were admitted into the triage area. Emily was put on the monitor and 50 minutes later the trace hadn’t met criteria. We know now this was because Poppy’s heartbeat was decelerating but these weren’t picked up on. Despite them not being seen we should have then been seen by a Registrar but weren’t. It was crazy busy and mistakes were sadly made. Now at the time we didn’t know any of this and I was just focused on helping Emily through it.
We got moved onto labour ward at 4pm and after 20 minutes all hell broke loose. Suddenly a Doctor is in the room doing an ultra sound scan and then suddenly Emily is being wheeled away for an emergency section. I was dazed, confused and tried to go with her but obviously couldn’t. When the dust seemed to settle I had a moment. When all the craziness had stopped I had a moment of clarity that scared me to the core. It hit me like a surfer being hit by a wave. Things weren’t good, I was scared. I could lose both my girls here. I felt helpless, I couldn’t do anything to support Emily. My wife was now alone and scared and I just cried by a moment and then I just waited.
Little did I know that Poppy had been born without breathing. I had no idea it wasn’t until 12 minutes old she was breathing. The first glimpse of Poppy I had was her being whisked past me surrounded by an army of nurses. One of them just grabbed my hand and said this is your baby. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This isn’t how you meet your daughter for the first time. I’m meant to be seeing Emily hold her first, not see her with tubes and wires all over her. Unable to hold her.

Poppy was being cooled as we had no clue how bad the damage to her brain had been. In the space of 30 minutes I felt utterly helpless again. Poppy was there and fighting for her life and I couldn’t do anything to help her. All I could do was sit there and watch. I couldn’t hold her in my arms and tell her Daddy would make her better. To make matters worse I was alone, Emily was still in recovery and she never saw her until midnight when she was transferred to Leeds.

When Poppy was transferred to Leeds I took the walk with her, telling my daughter that I would follow her there. That I was coming to be with her. The walk back up to Emily was so strange. The hospital was now a ghost town and I just wanted to get back to my little girl and be there with her. It felt like walking in a dream, this didn’t feel real but it was.
I went to Leeds to be with Poppy and Emily had to wait to be transferred. It was so isolating being there on my own. It felt so strange. It was like being in a dream or trance. I just hated that we couldn’t be here as a family. It is also a scary place a neonatal unit. It’s warm, no windows and machines beeping all the time. I would worry it was Poppy’s machine when it wasn’t. When it was hers my heart would stop until I was told it was ok or it was just that her medicine was low. By the end of it I was immune to it all. For 3 days this was home. This was my life.

It was heartbreakingly hard not to be able to do anything to help Poppy. All I could do was sit and talk to her. Tell her Mummy was coming and do be brave and fight as hard as she could. It was gut-wrenching to see her laying there. Knowing I couldn’t fix this. Emily finally arrived and we could sit with Poppy together. The next day we received the heartbreaking news that the injury to Poppy’s brain was so bad that he quality of life would be next to none. I felt my heart shatter. It broke and it has never recovered. You just feel sick. All I could do was hug Emily. We then made the painful decision to have 24 hours together and to make memories before we let Poppy pass away.

Poppy was taken off cooling and was dressed in the only clothes we’d ever see her in. God did she look beautiful. Though the bear hat swamped her she still looked damn good in it. We could now hold our daughter. It was a wonderful yet bittersweet moment. Amazing in one breath but earth shattering in another. We sat and held her in turns. I sang a few Disney songs to Poppy, very badly I might add. We’d cry but if we did Poppy showed her disapproval. She’d scowl at us. No matter who it was she’d scowl. She didn’t want us to be sad. I take a lot of comfort in that. She knew I think and didn’t want us to be upset.

That last night together was so tough. We didn’t want it to end. What was so nice was that the family room, donated by 4Louis was given to us. The nurses got it all set up for us, it was so unexpected but amazing. Emily and I got to be together. We could hold each other and cry together.

On 31st October after family had said their goodbyes we had our last moment together. Mummy, Daddy and Poppy. We held her and told her how much we loved her. How brave she was and how proud we were of her. Then it was time. I held her in the family room. The breathing tube was taken out and we waited for Poppy to pass in her own time. It was so beautiful to see her without a tube in. While hearing her little gasps were heartbreaking they were the only noises we’d hear her make. We cherished them. Surround by family we cried. Tears flowed like rivers. Then a strange calm seemed to come over the room and Emily took Poppy in her arms. Shortly after that Poppy passed away. Our world broken into a million pieces.
I felt numb that night and for days after. Having to tell everybody Poppy had died was so hard. It isn’t what you expect you have to do. We should be posting 100s of pictures on Facebook of her. Not having to tell the world she has died. There is just an emptiness that enters your life after you lose a child. A big black hole that just won’t go away. The pull it has on your daily life does in time become less but it still has an effect on you.
It hurts everyday that Poppy isn’t here and I wish this pain on nobody. But sadly the world is a cruel place and I hope that this piece and all other Dad’s pieces on Hannah’s blog can help another Dad going through this pain.
Every year we are going to do something for charity for Poppy’s Legacy. We did bake sales, we’ve donated clothes and I’ve run in races. All to raise money in Poppy’s name to help other families and hopefully eventually stop this happening to anybody else.
Poppy you are always in my thoughts, forever in my heart.

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