Arthur was born on the 13th December 2011 at 12.28 pm. I heard him cry, I remember a team working on him to the left hand side of the bed. Arthur was taken away, they let me look at him quickly, I didn't want to look, I didn't want to attach, I knew Luke was dead and I was just waiting to hear that Arthur would die too.

Arthurs daddy went to see him in neonatal. I remember arriving back to the hospital room asking for my little man, I was told he was alive but not doing very well, but he was alive. Arthur's doctor came to speak to us to tell us that very few babies survive at such an early gestation, and that they were working on him but his chances were slim.

I was taken to see Arthur at around 10pm on the evening of the 13th December, I was numb. We were meeting the priest to get him baptized, as I truly thought he would die. I remember feeling so lost, I had been told to prepare myself before seeing him as he was so small and all the machines attached to him would be very upsetting. My first sight of him I just broke down, I couldn't stop crying. They baptized him using a cotton bud; I felt at least we had this opportunity as poor Luke had nothing. We sat with Arthur for a while and I was told to go and get some rest and they would call us if anything happened. We spent the next few nights in the hospital holding our breaths anytime we heard the phone ring in the nurses’ station or we heard footsteps outside our door. Always we thought it was someone coming to tell us Arthur had died.

The roller coaster, which would last Arthur's lifetime, was difficult. We were told that the first 24 hours were crucial, and then we were told it was 72 hours and then it was the first week. After that we were told that he could have a brain bleed and that the 3 day and 7 day brain scans would give us answers. Arthur survived the first 24 hours and then the 72 hours and made it to the first week. Arthur had his brain scan and we were told everything looked good there had only been a small bleed and that our little man was still critical but he was doing well.

We never knew how much Arthur weighed, it was always estimated, around 580 grams. In the first week he lost weight and his lowest estimated weight was 540 grams. Arthur was fed through tubes and around day six the nurses started feeding him the smallest amount of my breast milk.

I remember the feeling of pure emptiness when my milk came and I was pumping into little containers and then freezing it. I didn't have a baby to hold to nurture, I had empty arms but it was something that could connect me to my critically ill son, I could feed him and give him nourishment. Arthur was monitored closely once they started giving him breast milk; they had to feel his stomach to ensure it remained soft and that he was tolerating the food. Arthur did well, they had to change the dosage of milk but he was tolerating it, my child was feeding.

Arthur was a feisty little man, who frowned when he wasn't happy, the same frown lines as his dad. Arthur didn't like loud noises, other babies crying or being handled too much. When he was annoyed he would kick and punch the air and wriggle and then de-stat. The nurses would have to work hard to settle him, but when he was calm he slept peacefully, with a blanket over his incubator.

A routine quickly started once I was released from hospital. I would phone the hospital in the middle of the night when I was pumping milk, and Arthur’s daddy would phone early morning. I would be at the hospital at around 10am and stay there until 9pm. We would sit and read Arthur story books, talk to the nurses about his little antics, stare at him for hours on end, take photos of his different outfits. The nurses changed his little hat every other day; he had a white one (I gave to Luke to be cremated in), a yellow one, a red and white one and a blue and white one. We joked that he was wearing the Kerry, Cork and Limerick colors!!

The second night after Arthur was born, I had just had a DC to get the remainder of my placenta, I lay recovering when Arthur's nurse came and placed Arthur's first white hat on my chest. It was a beautiful gesture that I will carry with me forever. I held tightly to that hat for days until I gave it to Luke, I wanted him to have something from his brother.

Arthur had many milestones in his little lifetime, I remember arriving to the NICU one morning and his nurse was so excited, as he pooed. This was huge as it meant his digestive system was working, we were celebrating a poo!!!! Another day I was given the task to do his carers,  this involved, cleaning his bottom and I can tell you that I cleaned the smallest poo, that you could ever imagine, I cleaned his nose and his mouth and put some oil on his skin. Arthur was such a good boy; there was even talk that he may survive but that he had a long road ahead of him.

When Arthur had his one week old birthday, on arriving back from lunch, the nurses had a surprise for us. The nurses allowed us to hold Arthur out of the incubator, as they changed over to another one. It was amazing, to hold him to allow his little hand to grasp our fingers; to see him up close, to be with our son.

One night I was allowed to have a sleep over in the family room, which was such a treat as I could get up and visit my little man in the middle of the night and talk to him.

Another day they took him off the ventilator and tried him on C-pap, he did really well and it was the first time we could really see his face. Arthur stayed on C-pap for a few days but the little mouth piece cut his nose and they were afraid of an infection so he had to go back on the ventilator. On the C-pap he could lie on his belly, and he looked like a normal baby just really small.

After time we became used to the unit and the noises that came from the machines. We started to look ahead and plan for a future with our son; he had fought the odds and was still here with us, he was booked for an eye test for when he reached 32 weeks. I began to believe in our miracle baby.

Santa came to the Unit and Arthur had his first Christmas, he got lots of presents. However Arthur was very unsettled on Christmas day, and had us all on edge. Over the following days he settled and unsettled and settled again. There was some blood in his poo and they said it may be an infection. We were waiting for the results, but he seemed ok, they started him on antibiotics as a precaution. Arthur settled and on the night of the 27th I left him sleeping. I phoned at around 4.30 am on the morning of the 28th, he was having a good night. Later at 9am his daddy phoned, the doctors were with him he was OK. At 10am the hospital called asking me to come in; I was there in 20 minutes. The hospital called again as I was parking my car. I knew something was wrong. Arthur died in my arms at 12.45pm two hours after that call. Arthur was 2 weeks and 1 day old.

When I arrived in the NICU, there were doctors and nurses with him, I was allowed in to see him, and then asked to wait outside, then in again. They tried everything until eventually the doctor recommended to let him go. I didn't want to stop, but I could see my little man’s body was stressed, his color was poor, he was very sick. Arthur died of pseudomonas bacteria, which lead to overwhelming sepsis. He had no chance; he was just too small and immature. I held him as he died, it was like a dream. It all happened so quickly, his daddy didn't make it to the hospital on time. By the time his daddy arrived Arthur was cold. I remember feeling his forehead soon after his death and it was warm and as the minutes and hours passed, he grew cold and his face changed, he was no longer the little man frowning at the loud noises. Our hearts were broken.

The nurses helped us change Arthur and we did his hand and foot prints. I had an urge to flee, I wanted out of this hospital with my baby, I wanted to go home. I hadn't been home in 3 weeks since I had first gone into hospital with the twins. It was a 2 hour drive and I couldn't be that far away from my little man, now all I wanted was to take him home. The hospital discharged Arthur and we left by a side door. I collected my stuff from my SIL and we ran. That drive was horrendous, I wanted to be away from the world with my son, and I couldn't believe any of this had happened.

I stayed with Arthur for two days at home, just the three of us. I didn't want to share him. I couldn't see anyone. We prepared for our second cremation in two weeks. We said goodbye and huddled around his coffin. I had someone read a poem, it’s all a blur.
Our two little men are no longer with us but the memories of their short lifetime, I know, will last our entire lifetime. Until we meet again, we love much much more than words can say xx

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