Tragedy of newborn baby killed by a loving a kiss from daddy
Clutching the pregnancy stick in one hand, I closed my eyes and prayed. Please, please let it be positive, I begged.
We’d been trying for a baby for four months now but this time, my body felt different, I was sure of it.
‘Don’t be too upset, Carl, my partner had told me before I’d nipped off to the loo. ‘There’s always next month.’
But I knew I’d be crushed. I was desperate for a child.
After what seemed like an age I finally let myself look at the tiny window. And…
‘Carl!’ I cried. ‘Carl! You’re going to be a daddy!’
We were over the moon. Together for four years, we wanted nothing more than to have a family. As the months passed and my body grew rounder, my excitement grew too.
At my 20 -week scan we found out we were having a boy. We were delighted.
We decided on a name – Kaiden Lawrence – and began turning the spare room into the nursery. It was ready weeks before I was due to give birth.
‘All we have to do now is wait for the little guy to arrive,’ Carl said proudly, his face splattered with white paint.
At 35 weeks, my waters broke all over the kitchen floor.
‘It’s too early!’ I panicked as Carl rang for an ambulance.
Admitted to hospital, I prepared myself for giving birth. But three days later when there was still no sign of my baby, they decided to induce me.
‘Not long now, little man,’ I panted as another contraction tore through my body.
‘You can do it, love,’ Carl encouraged.
Baby Kaiden was born naturally, weighing 5lb 5oz. He was beautiful. With his shock of black hair he looked just like his daddy.
Because he was early he was taken to the special care baby unit to be checked over, but just a few hours later he was placed in my arms.
‘He’s absolutely perfect.’ The nurse smiled.
She didn’t need to tell me. I’d never felt love like it.
Two days later we brought him home. We couldn’t wait to show him off to our family and friends.
He was the perfect baby. The only time he ever cried was when I gave him a bath.
‘Don’t cry sweetheart,’ I soothed, hating to hear him upset. ‘It’ll all be over in a minute.’
I loved being a mum. It felt like the most natural thing in the world.
As the days passed, we slipped easily into a routine. Yes, I was tired – exhausted even – like any new mum.
But I had never been so happy. I only had to look at Kaiden and I’d melt.
‘He’ll have you wrapped around his little finger in no time.’ Carl joked.
He could talk. He couldn’t leave Kaiden alone. He was always giving him cuddles, showering him with loving kisses.
But then, at two weeks old, Kaiden stopped taking his feeds. He grew pale and warm. As I got up to call the doctor, he suddenly started to turn blue.
‘Call an ambulance!’ I screamed to Carl. ‘He’s not breathing!’
As we raced through the streets to Alder Hey Hospital, tears ran down my cheeks.
‘Hold on, darling. Please hold on.’ I begged him.
He was rushed into the resuscitation room and doctors swarmed around him.
The next time I saw him he was in intensive care, his tiny body covered in tubes. He looked terrible.
‘Oh Carl!’ I sobbed as he wrapped his arms around me.
They carried out test after test but still no one could tell us what was wrong.
‘I just don’t understand it,’ I mumbled. ‘He had been fine and then…’
We weren’t the only ones who couldn’t understand how this had happened.
On our fourth day in hospital we were questioned by police who took Kaiden’s moses basket taken off for checks.
It was awful. ‘I would never, ever hurt my son,’ I told them vehemently.
‘We’re just doing our job ma’am,’ they told us.
I knew that. But still, it made me feel like a criminal.
We spent the next week by Kaiden’s cot in intensive care as doctors battled to find out why he was so sick.
I watched each rise of fall of his chest like a hawk and as the days passed, I thought I could see an improvement in his condition.
He’s a very sick little boy,’ the doctors reminded me.
Was I just kidding myself? Maybe, but I had to keep positive.
It took two weeks for them to discover what was wrong with my son. And even then, I couldn’t believe it…
‘Herpes!?’ I replied. But he was a baby. How could he have herpes?
I asked question after question.
The consultant explained the virus was transmitted via coldsores. I looked a Carl. He instinctively touched his lip. He’d had a coldsore a few weeks ago…
We listened gobsmacked as the consultant explained that while innocently showering Kaiden with love, Carl had most likely passed on the killer virus to him.
‘I had no idea…’ he blurted.
‘Sadly, not many people do.’ The consultant said.
While the herpes virus is usually harmless to adults, it can be fatal for newborn babies.
I couldn’t believe that our baby was clinging to life all because of a kiss…
‘It’s all my fault!’ Carl said, devastated.
But he wasn’t to blame. Nobody had told us that his cold sore posed such a risk to our son.
‘I’d never had put him in danger if I’d known,’ Carl swore.
Now all we could do was pray he pulled through.
But the antibiotics weren’t working and after three weeks Kaiden still couldn’t breathe for himself. He needed an operation to put a line in his chest to help administer more drugs.
‘His tiny body can’t cope with any more,’ I wept.
‘He’s a fighter, you’ll see,’ Carl promised me.
But he’d given all he could. That evening, doctors broke the awful news that he would never wake up. The coldsore infection had overwhelmed his little body and his organs were failing.
They wanted me to turn off the ventilator but I refused. I couldn’t bear to say goodbye. Maybe they’d got it wrong.
But when the seizures started, I knew it was time. I couldn’t bear to see him suffer like that. He’d been through so much pain already.
‘Will you tell them?’ I asked Carl. I wouldn’t bring myself to say the words.
As they switched off the machines, we both cuddled Kaiden, talked to him and told him how brave he was. We told him how much we loved him and I said how sorry we were that we couldn’t make him better.
Then I held him on my chest and sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to him like I had done every evening before I put him in his cot. Only this time, I knew it would be the last.
He was just eight weeks old when he slipped away.
I couldn’t bear the thought of being parted from my baby, not yet, so we were invited to move into Zoe’s Place – a special baby hospice.
Kaiden was the first baby to use a brand new special temperature controlled nursery room.
It meant rather than a cold dark funeral parlour, he could rest in a cot. Lights twinkled on the ceiling and lullabyes played gently night and day.
I slept in a room nearby and was able to visit him whatever time of day or night I wanted.
When I wasn’t with Kaiden my arms ached with the emptiness. I tried to busy myself by organising his funeral. It had to be perfect – just like him.
Those precious 12 days in the hospice meant the world to me and Carl. I would have stayed there with my son forever if I could, but all too soon it was time to say goodye for the last time.
The night before his funeral we brought him home in his moses basket.
I washed and dressed him in a cute little sleepsuit and hat. He looked gorgeous.
I carried his tiny coffin into the church myself.
Over 100 family and friends had come to say goodbye to our little boy. We played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Heaven Can Wait and In The Arms of The Angels and wept with the injustice of it all.
He was just a baby, his life should have been only just beginning…
We had flowers in the shape of a dummy, star, angel and pillows and wording spelling out ‘My baby boy.’
In place of flowers we asked mourners to donate to Zoe’s Place where Kaiden and I had stayed after he died.
Back home, still in shock, we packed away his clothes and toys and stared at his empty cot unable to believe he was gone.
Desperate for a distraction from our grief, together with friends, we started fundraising, made £2,000, this time for the Ronald McDonald House in Alder Hey where I’d stayed while
Kaiden was fighting for life in hospital. It was an impressive achievement but I wanted to do more.
Carl was still wracked with guilt. Had he known the risks of course he would never have kissed Kaiden.
Why hadn’t anyone told us? It was in none of my maternity books or the leaflets I’d been given by the midwife.
‘I had no idea,’ he said over and over.
Talking to friends and family I soon realised we weren’t alone. No one I spoke to was aware of the virus being fatal to young babies. It wasn’t good enough. The thing that hurt most was that
Kaiden’s death could so easily have been prevented.
So I decided to start a campaign to raise awareness of how the herpes simplex virus can be fatal to new born and young babies and to ask the hospitals to include the facts on leaflets provided to other expectant parents.
I wrote to the health secretary and started a petition and now, four months after Kaiden’s death, I have finally been able to create an official government E-Petition –
A change isn’t going to happen overnight, I know that. But if I can save another child’s life it will be worth it. That’s why I am telling my story in Take
A Break. No baby should be harmed by a loving kiss.
And no parent should ever have to feel responsible for their baby’s death. Kaiden would still be here today if we had known what a cold sore could do. Every day I ask myself the same question. ‘ why didn’t anybody warn us,?’
After losing Kaiden we started trying to for another baby straight away. People might have thought it was too soon but the need to hold a baby in my arms again was overwhelming.
I fell almost immediately. It was a bittersweet moment. We were delighted but we know each milestone will make us think of Kaiden and how he should be here experiencing them too.
He would have been the best big brother ever. If only he hadn’t been stolen by a kiss…