Naima Simone Phillips-Maund
Born March 29, 2006 – Died 12th April 2006, London, UK.
My wife & I met 24th April 2003 – her Birthday – we connected almost instantly and 25th December 2003 I ask Joan to marry me (fortunately she said yes!). On 23rd October 2004 we got married in Barbados, my wife’s home country. July 2005 Joan fell pregnant and we were over the moon, really excited about the prospect of a new addition to our family.
Difficulties started with the pregnancy when Joan had a placenta bleed at 16 weeks and in the later stages of the pregnancy Joan developed pre-eclampsia. At 39 weeks Joan went into hospital to be induced, but her cervix was unfavourable so the hospital told her to go home. A plan to monitor her blood pressure was put in place. The next day the community mid-wife visited Joan at home and checked her blood pressure which was 130/75 so Joan went back in to hospital for 24 hours to have her blood pressure monitored. It stabilised.
At 40 weeks Joan went back in to hospital to be induced, this time the hospital decided it was ok to proceed and the induction started AT 1:30pm 29th March. At approx 5pm Joan went to take a bath to help relax; whilst in the bath the mid-wife went to check Naima's heartbeat....she told us that something must be wrong with the machine....she left the room to get another monitor. She came back and tried to hear Naima's heartbeat again. It was then she realised that it wasn't the machine, Naima's heartbeat had decelerated. We had to go back to the labour room which was at the other end of the delivery ward...it took at least 5-10 minutes but felt like a lifetime.
Back in the room Joan was put back on the heart-rate monitor and it showed Naima's heartbeat at [approx] 60 bps, normally it was [approx] 115-120. How long had it decelerated for…. we don't know.... Naima's heart rate eventually seemed to recover but she suffered several decelerations over the next few hours. A doctor came at approx 9pm and he said everything was ok and there was no need to do anything. At 10pm another doctor reviewed the situation and almost instantly determined an emergency c-section was required, Joan was rushed into theatre.
At 10:38pm 29th March Naima Simone Phillips-Maund was born at 6lb 15oz. She let out a cry when she was born, that was the only time we heard her cry meaningfully. By about 11:30pm we were in the recovery room holding Naima thinking everything was ok, but now we look back we think she was lack lustre and already compromised. We stayed in the recovery room until 2:30am 30th March, as the postnatal ward was under-staffed, I was not allowed to stay in the post-natal ward so I left at 3am. I was so excited to have a beautiful baby girl, I couldn't sleep, I eventually went to bed at 4am.
At around 5:30am I received a phone call from the hospital informing me that Naima was having breathing difficulties and to come to the hospital asap...I didn’t understand what they meant so I drove to the hospital as quickly as I could, it is only 10 minutes away.
When I got to the hospital my wife had been moved to a room own and she was crying her eyes out, I had no idea what was going on...I tried to put the pieces together, at around 5am Naima had collapsed and stopped breathing, the paediatricians tried to resuscitate her and eventually put her on a ventilator to keep her alive. We found out later from the post-mortem she had suffered from perinatal asphyixia resulting in severe brain-damage.
The next two weeks we spent by Naima's bedside watching her 24x7 hoping she would recover, each day was a rollercoaster. She seemed to get better and then take a turn for the worst. Naima came off the ventilator for a few days, but she never opened her eyes. We hoped and prayed she would, we didn't know at this point, or couldn't accept, the severity of her brain damage. In our minds I think we knew she was going to die but our hearts couldn’t accept that and we were just waiting for someone, to tell us….waiting for someone to be honest and true and tell us our daughter wouldn’t survive or would have no quality of life if she did…. No one did of course.
At this point we didn’t know the cause of Naima’s collapse, some paediatricians mentioned it could be an extremely rare (1 in 6 million) neurological metabolic condition so throughout Naima’s short life many blood samples were taken to test for this is that. Unfortunately in some cases it would take 4-6 weeks for the results to be returned.
After 10 days in Hospital, Joan and I had the spend the night at home, I returned home early to take down Naima’s cot which was waiting for her to come home in our bedroom. To this day I remember the heart wrenching pain of undoing each screw, thinking Naima is never going to use this cot, this cot that Joan and I spent so much time selecting especially for our daughter. This was the first time that I could let out a scream of pain (I was on my own and knew I was going to be upsetting Joan). I couldn’t understand what had happened to Naima or why, so I screamed and yelled and break down in tears. Joan didn't see the pain I was in, whilst she knew I was hurting, she had her own pain to cope with and hadn't seen me fall apart. I did hide it from her, I felt I had to be strong to support Joan, whilst I cried and cried in her company the screams never came.
When Joan and I returned home, all of Naima’s things were in the spare room with the door shut, it was like we didn’t have a baby. She was shut away, as whilst she was still living, we knew in our hearts she wasn’t coming home and seeing the things meant for her, that she would never use, were just too painful.
After about 12 days Naima had a really bad night and had be put back on the ventilator, by now Naima had also contracted pneumonia and this made her really weak. We now had to make the decision to take Naima of the ventilator knowing that she woud not be able to breath on her own for long and that she would not survive. On Wed 12th April we held a blessing in the Neonatal ward with family and close friends and as the ventilator was removed Joan and I held Naima as she took her final breaths at 1:10pm.... wishing Naima to be at peace.
When Naima died, I took hold of my daughter and gave her a big hug as let out a wail as I cried and cried at the loss of our beautiful baby girl. The memory of hugging Naima at this time is very clear in my mind and always brings tears to my eyes. Something that is difficult to explain, I could feel the love between Naima and me, as I held her tightly. Never wanting to let go. Wanting to hold her forever in my arms….. when I think about this time now I think to the future when one day we will be together again and I can again hold my angel baby girl.
We spent the next few weeks waiting for Naima to be returned from the post mortem, arranging a memorial service (26th April), registered Naima’s birth (13th May), held her funeral (15th May) and scattered her ashes in her final resting place (18th May). All emotionally draining. As a Dad one of my proudest and worst moments of my life was carrying Naima’s little white coffin to the funeral alter... my knees were trebling, tears running down my cheeks, carrying MY daughter to be cremated.
For a Father/man at this time it is truly a difficult time to grieve, so much to do, support Joan, friends and family visiting leaving us no time on our own, etc. grieving was something that tended to be done when you could have a rare private moment.
A few weeks after Naima had died, Joan & I were home alone, we had just been speaking to our counsellor and I fell apart big time. I was curled up on the sofa like a child, bawling my eyes out, I couldn’t be strong anymore. Joan was shocked she had never seen me like that......but at that point she really understood how much pain I was in. We don't really know how we made it through those times but somehow we did, by talking and supporting each other.
Over time we have learnt how to cope with the grief, the dark days still come but we have our own ways of coping. Joan used to (and sometimes still does) spend time with Naima's memory box, to this day I find that too painful. I have Naima's name tag from the hospital on my key-ring which I carry with me everywhere but Joan found that too personal. These are the little things that are important to us as individuals to help us grieve and remember our loved ones. What I am trying to say is each individual has their own way of grieving but you must also find a way of coping with the grief as a couple. The pain is still there, it will never go away, we miss Naima with all our hearts but somehow we cope and get through each day.
Naima, our Angel Baby Girl, we love you and miss you everyday xxx