Polly, aged 1, had a rare mitochondrial condition and spent the last few months of her life at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. Here, her mum Cheryl, tells her story.
When you are expecting a baby you always have slight doubts that your child might have problems, but once you see it crying and it has ten fingers and toes, you’re relieved. Then the midwife confirms you have a healthy normal baby, your worries fade away and you just look forward to enjoying lots of great times ahead with your new born, as well as the sleepless nights. You would never in your wildest dreams expect to go on the most extraordinary journey that we went on with Polly, and lose your baby at such an early age.
Polly was such a beautiful smiley baby with amazing blue eyes that shone like the stars and a smile that made you feel happy no matter what was happening around you. She was very aware of her surroundings and enjoyed being nosey and always wanted to know what was going on around her. She loved sucking her thumb and used it often to comfort herself. Polly endured many tests and operations during her life and was the bravest littlest girl but through it all always had a smile!
Polly had been in hospital since she was 4 months old when we came to Bluebell Wood. It is a truly fantastic place. All my family could visit; in the hospital they felt in the way, but at Bluebell Wood we could spend proper time together as a family. I was a bit apprehensive about going to the hospice, but I was surprised by how relaxed it was. It’s a really happy place.
Abbey (Polly’s 3 year old sister) and Polly had an unbreakable bond that overpowered me. If Abbey hadn’t seen us for a week in hospital she would run past me and say “Hello Mummy, Bye Mummy, Where’s my Polly?” and climb up to the cot and stroke Polly’s hand. Polly would greet her with an astonishing smile no matter how she was feeling. The great thing about being at Bluebell Wood was that Abbey could be with us all the time. The last few months of Polly’s life we spent as a family together, rather than split up in hospital. That quality time meant the world to me.
Being at Bluebell Wood meant we could do things together that we couldn’t have done on our own. The hospice staff took us out on trips; even things that everyone else takes for granted, like going to the supermarket, were difficult with Polly, but with Bluebell Wood’s help we could go out together. Polly and Abbey were able to go to the Bluebell Wood Christmas Party and they saw Santa!
The hospice is also there for parents though. You don’t have to worry about your meals as they are all cooked for you- you can just focus on the care of your child. If, as a parent, you can’t sleep, there’s always someone to talk to if you just need a chat in the middle of the night.
When Polly died, the help from the hospice was a fantastic support. Their forget me not suite gives you baby steps into reality. You feel protected but able to start to begin to feel normal again. Plus, you receive support for two years after bereavement, so you are not left on your own to cope.
Bluebell Wood is an amazing place that enables families to be together. I just can’t thank staff enough for what the hospice did for us- they created so many priceless memories for my family.