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  • This is my Little Man Matthew. He was born on a sunny May afternoon, 2 weeks late and after an 18 hour induced labour; but he was worth it. When he arrived, the first sound I heard from him was a weak cry and a pained look on my partner's mum's face; she was a midwife and allowed into theatre with us.

    So began an episode in my life that has taught me a great deal about my own inner strength, affirmed my beliefs, yet challenged my decison-making process. Matthew was a sick little baby and because he had been born by caesarian, his mother wasn't able to help very much with his care and I chose to look after him until she could help me.

    We were allowd to stay in a suite at the hospital, that had been put aside for parents whose children were in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). It meant that we had 24 hour access to him and when we grew stronger, he was allowed to stay in our room with us. The time we spent in that suite was the best of times and the worst of times. Matthew couldn't be breast-fed and neither could he take food from a bottle; he was fed via a tube that went through his nose and into his stomach.

    Each week, we would travel to Great Ormond Street Hospital to see specialists and each appointment brought another bit of bad news: he's blind, he's deaf, he has a hole in his heart, he will never grow at the same rate as other children, he'll probably be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life and he had reflux of any food he ingested. We took each knock as stoically as any new parents could, but it took it's toll.

    One Sunday, we were allowed to take Matthew to my partner's parents house, so that we could get out of the hospital. Her mum, being a midwife, was considered the best person for him to be with should any incident occur; prophetic words. He was being given his first bath outside of the hospital. He cried and even now, that sound brings tears to my eyes; then he stopped crying. We all looked towards him and realised that he he had stopped breathing. An ambulance was called whilst my partner's mum gave him mouth to mouth. We rushed back to the hospital, following the ambulance and spent agonising hours waiting for what was going to be more bad news.

    His condition had deteriorated and doctors were not sure if he would last the night. I am religious/spiritual, my partner was not. I wanted him baptised by a Catholic priest, she did not. After 2 hours of arguing, he was Christened by the hospital chaplain and I spent the night in the SCBU waiting; he didn't die, he just didn't get better.

    My partner refused to assist with his further care and I was left to make a decision: Should I let God/Mother Nature decide his future ? I decided that should he arrest, that he should not be resuscitated. Some may say that I had no right to make that decision and every year on his birthday, I question my right to do so.

    Matthew started to decline and I could no longer watch as he was poked, prodded and had more and more blood removed from his tiny body. I took him to our suite whilst my partner spent some time with her parents; she didn't want to be around. He died in my arms whilst I sang lullabys to him and I waited 30 minutes before I told the hospital staff; I didn't want them to cause him more pain.

    My Little Man had been given a blessed release, he was seven and half weeks old.
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