I was 16 weeks pregnant when my husband Mark and I were told our baby’s brain would never fully develop.
I remember being told our unborn little boy might not live until the next scan. That even if he did, he was unlikely to survive the birth.
It was the darkest of times for our family.
Against all odds our little boy Jamie entered the world in November 2011, with a loud, defiant cry that sparked the tiniest bit of hope within us.
Here I am, he seemed to be saying. I made it.
But although we desperately wanted to believe that everything would be okay, from that moment on, we feared for his life every day.
It’s unbearable thinking your child could die at any time. That’s how it was for us until LauraLynn came into our lives. With the kind support of people like you, other families like ours can learn to make the most of short and precious lives.
Jamie was born blind and deaf. He spent the first three weeks of his life in the hospital neo-natal unit in Cork, until the day we were told he needed urgent surgery in Dublin.
Before we left, we just had time to get the family in, to say goodbye. It was the first time his brothers, Jack and Lucas, got to meet him. They were only seven and two years old.
The next thing I remember is the surgeon gently telling us to say goodbye to Jamie. That he might not survive the surgery.
I held my precious boy and told him how much I loved him. Then I kissed him goodbye. I’ve never been so frightened.
We didn’t know then how much Jamie was prepared to fight to live. How much sunshine he had yet to bring into our lives.
He survived the surgery. Then we were told we could take him home. It was Christmas.
We had our little Christmas miracle, but we were still scared. Away from the safety of the hospital, what if we couldn’t care for him? Jamie needed 24-hour care.
We lived from moment to moment, grieving, until LauraLynn, with the support of people like you, showed us that those precious moments were not for grieving but for making precious memories.
Despite how sick he was, Jamie never showed pain. He never gave out.
He simply shone.
He would just smile all the time. That smile brought us so much strength.
Jamie was 10 months old when we were referred to LauraLynn.
It lifted my heart, just to have that support and understanding of our situation.
A lovely lady named Ann came to our house. She took so many notes about Jamie: his likes, dislikes, his medication, his routine.
And when we went to stay at LauraLynn for the first time, I found out why.
Everything we did with Jamie at home had been copied. His bedroom was a replica of his room at home, it had the same toys he loved. His routine, everything, was kept the same, to make him feel at home.
LauraLynn even made sure his room had his favourite scent.
Jamie loved the smell of eucalyptus. He constantly suffered from pneumonia and the eucalyptus would give his chest some relief.
And there at LauraLynn, they had put an aroma machine in his room, diffusing the soothing fragrance of eucalyptus.
That attention to detail brought tears to my eyes. There was just so much love in that room.
Jamie, our little miracle, defied all expectations and was with us for ten years. And every one of those precious years included a stay at LauraLynn. We did Halloween camps. We met the Irish rugby team. The staff would take over Jamie’s care, so we could take the other two boys off somewhere.
When you’re caring for a child with a life-limiting condition, you don’t always think to stop and have fun. But LauraLynn showed us how to celebrate each moment.
How to make memories to last a lifetime.
The photos from the camps, the memory box of things Jamie made, we wouldn’t have any of those were it not for LauraLynn.
Every Christmas for ten years, we stayed at LauraLynn. Because Christmas is the time of year you want to be with your family and for us, LauraLynn is family.
We never knew which Christmas would be Jamie’s last and lived in fear.
To simply be a family, together at Christmas.
In November 2021, Jamie turned ten. He passed away just ten days later.
In a way, I couldn’t believe what was happening, because he’d bounced back so many times.
One of the first calls I made was to LauraLynn. They were his family. To this day, two years later, we’re still in touch. They ring to offer moral support, counselling for the boys. They sent a precious memory box we treasure.
There’s a butterfly in the garden at LauraLynn, in memory of Jamie, and at his grave, we’ve placed a solar butterfly light to remember LauraLynn.
The handprints Jamie made at LauraLynn are engraved on his headstone.
I’m sharing Jamie’s story with you because during the darkest of times. Your kind support of LauraLynn will allow us to make precious memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you and Merry Christmas,
Helena & Mark