Sam's wish came true

When tragedy struck, my little boy knew just what we needed...

Published by: Tiffany Sherlock and Kim Willis
Published on: 27 October 2011

While I dusted, my four-year-old son Sam was bouncing his toy Tigger across the sofa. ‘Mummy, will I ever have a little brother or sister?' he asked.
I plonked down next to him, and scooped him on to my lap. ‘I hope so,' I smiled, ruffling his hair.
My husband Paul, 41, and me were already trying. We had Sam and my stepsons Daniel, 19, and Jordan, 16, from Paul's first marriage. But recently, we'd felt that yearning for one more baby.
And a month later, Sam got his wish. Paul and I decided we wanted Sam involved, so we tucked him up in bed and told him.
‘You're going to have a little brother or sister,' I smiled.
‘Really?' he gasped excitedly.
We brought Sam to my 12-week scan. He giggled as the sticky gel was poured on my belly. ‘This helps me see the baby,' I smiled.
Sam was wide-eyed as the little heartbeat pulsed on the screen. So was I. Then the sonographer frowned. ‘I'll be back,' she said, walking off. Paul and me swapped worried glances as she came back with another sonographer.
‘Your baby's intestines have grown in a sac outside its tummy,' she explained, sympathetically. ‘You'll need a more detailed scan before we can say why.'
‘If it's not too severe, it can be fixed with surgery, but this might indicate a serious genetic problem,' the sonographer warned.
As I gave in to the tears, Sam rushed to comfort me. He was a sensitive lad. ‘Mummy?' he said.
‘It's okay,' I said, forcing a smile. ‘The baby's got bellyache.'
For two days we prayed there'd been a mistake but, when we returned for the second scan, it revealed our baby's whole digestive system had formed outside his tummy. Doctors then did another test, taking fluid from the sac.
‘We think your baby may have a condition called Edwards syndrome,' the doctor said gently. ‘It's caused by an extra chromosome which creates multiple, major abnormalities. Most babies die in the womb or days after birth. Many parents opt for a medical termination.'
‘No!' I wept.
The thought of choosing to end this pregnancy was heartbreaking.
They did more tests and promised to call with the results.Stumbling home, Paul and me cried and talked for hours.
‘What choice is there?' he sobbed. ‘How can we put our own child through pain and suffering for nothing?'
Still, I prayed for a miracle. Yet days later, the hospital phoned. ‘I'm afraid your baby does have Edwards syndrome,' the doctor told me. I fell to my knees. Paul was quick to my side. Our precious baby, what were we going to do?
Thank God Sam was at his gran's house - I knew my mum June, 68, would look after him while we tried to decide.
But the choice was taken from us, as we lost the baby. Both our hearts broke in two. When we collected Sam, we cuddled him on the sofa. ‘Our baby's died,' I explained gently, fighting back tears. ‘So Granddad and Nana are looking after them in heaven.'
Paul's mum and dad, Joyce and Bob, had passed away, so he understood a little. ‘Is Grandma's dog Becky looking after the baby?' he whispered, little lip trembling. ‘She's in heaven, too.'
I burst into tears. ‘Don't cry, Mummy,' he said. I'd never known I could feel so empty inside - my belly and my heart.
Sam didn't ask about the baby again, but Paul and me were often in tears. Somehow I gathered my strength, and went back to work. On my first day back at my auditor's job, a colleague popped in carrying her newborn baby. She hadn't heard my news.
‘I'm sorry,' I choked, fleeing the office in tears.
That night, I cried in Paul's arms. Our grief was unbearable, yet Paul and me couldn't bear to try again yet.
One afternoon, as I drove Sam to school, he turned to me. ‘Mum, when are we having another baby?' he chirped.
‘I'm not sure,' I said. ‘I don't know if we'll have another one.'
‘Next time, I think we should have twins!' he said. I burst out laughing - so did Paul when I told him. It was Sam's funny little ways that kept us both going the next months.
On what would have been my due date, November 5 last year, we set off a firework in our baby's memory. ‘We love you,' I whispered up to the dark sky, suddenly illuminated with colour.
Soon, I felt a longing inside. ‘I want to try again,' I told Paul.
‘I do, too,' he smiled.
Three months later, we were staring at a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom. Half-thrilled, half-nervous, we were laughing and crying. ‘Let's not tell Sam yet,' Paul said. Thank goodness we didn't - because days later I started bleeding.
‘I'm miscarrying,' I sobbed, as the hospital rushed me in for an emergency scan. When the sonographer stared intently at the screen, my heart sank with dread. Not again.
‘There's a heartbeat. In fact... there's two!'
‘What?' Paul and me gasped in unison. ‘Twins?!' She nodded.
Not a miscarriage, but two babies to love? We'd gone from despair to delight in a split second.
‘This is what Sam wished for,' I marvelled, remembering his words.
And, incredibly, they were due on November 5 - just like our last baby. It all felt like fate.
We didn't tell Sam until after my 12-week scan showed all was well. ‘You're getting those twins,' I said.
‘Brilliant!' he squealed.
We took him to the 20-week scan and we found out they were both boys. ‘We can all play football,' Sam said.
The boys both had clubfeet, but it could be treated.
I took Sam shopping for two of everything. ‘Buy this Tigger toy,' Sam begged. ‘It's from me.'
‘Okay,' I smiled. He also helped me pick matching blue babygrows.
At 36 weeks, doctors decided I should have a caesarean. Paul was with me as Charlie came first, a bouncing 6lb 9oz, followed by 6lb 8oz Matthew two minutes later. They were identical, but Matthew's toes curled inwards and Charlie's left foot virtually faced backwards.
As we smothered them with kisses, Sam rushed in. ‘The twins have bought you this,' I smiled, as Paul handed him a Buzz Lightyear toy.
‘Wow!' Sam gasped.
In the next few months, Matthew had physio and Charlie had two ops to straighten their legs.
But they were happy little chaps, and Sam watched over them. ‘I'm here to protect them in case robbers try to take them away,' he said. No one was going to take these babies away.
The twins are now one and are mischievous little scamps! Sam adores them - although sometimes he grumbles at the chaos. Then we tease him: ‘You made the wish!'
Of course we'll never forget the baby we lost, but our little boy's magic wish gave us back our smiles!
Lorraine Lindo, 41, Mansfield, Notts