Yesterday was always going to be hard. As I said, I had dreaded the thought of sitting in a court room listening to Lexi’s death being discussed. I in fact had to stand as a witness and discuss in detail what happened. However, we were gifted I believe a slight reprieve from the unrelenting sadness of the situation we found ourselves in. The coroner conducting the inquest was kind, considerate of our grief and incredibly fair I felt in the way he carried out the inquest. He fully acknowledged the traumatic devastation we had faced in the last few hours of Lexi’s life. In his summation at the end of the hearing he took the time to offer his heart felt condolence and said he hoped as a family we would now be able to focus on the happy time we had with Lexi. That is all that I can hope for too.
An inquests purpose is to determine the following;
• Who the deceased was
• When and where they died
• The medical cause of their death
• How they came by their death
It is a fact-finding process. It does not deal with issues of blame or responsibility for the death, or with issues of criminal or civil liability.
I’m struggling to know what the right thing is to write here. There’s a million things I could say but I think this song perfectly portrays what I feel. Yesterday didn’t address our concerns over Lexi’s death but we hold in our heart the belief that the truth always prevails.
The inquest concluded yesterday that Lexi’s death was to be recorded as one of natural causes. There are 9 causes that can be used by a coroner. As was commented on yesterday, these causes are handy really only for recording national statistics. A death by natural causes, as recorded by coroners and on death certificates and associated documents, is the end result of an illness or an internal malfunction of the body not directly caused by external forces, typically due to old age1.
From listening to the evidence and experts yesterday at the inquest I feel we can firmly say that Lexi died of sepsis. Not on any official form but in our hearts, and from what has been presented to us we can at least have an answer when people ask us why she died. We can’t prove that Lexi had sepsis because by the time blood was taken to be tested she had already been given antibiotics. The pathologist explained that the antibiotics had in essence cleaned her cells and so the tests wouldn’t have found sepsis even if it was present.
The three causes of death that were to be considered were sepsis, a heart condition or something that would fall under the umbrella of a cot death. A heart condition was ruled out by the post mortem. Lexi was as it was so clear to see, born perfectly. Each organ had formed and worked as it should have. In the early weeks after Lexi’s death, before we received her post-mortem, I would lay awake considering every moment of my pregnancy. Had I inadvertently not grown part of my baby properly. But I had. She was perfect. There was no genetic condition that caused her to become ill.
I felt a lot of relief too when the coroner ruled out the possibility of a cot death. A lot of terms are placed under that umbrella and the only people who seemed to have believed it was that was the local hospitals trust who had recorded in their serious investigation reports findings that she died of sudden unexpected neonatal collapse. It was very evident that this wasn’t the case and I was pleased that the coroner quite rightly pointed that out.
Listening to the evidence given yesterday it was clear to me that really the only cause that fitted was sepsis. But the local hospital trusts barrister took it upon himself to remind the coroner that he must only record a factual cause. I don’t think the coroner needed to be reminded of his job, but it is sad that they must follow these pre-formatted responses for the benefit of national statistics.
The truth is though for Andrew and I and all our family, yesterday changed nothing. We are still very much missing our little girl and it seems so sad that we have had to fight to get the facts of her sudden illness and death heard. Our saving grace in this hideous process has been the support and love we have had from family and friends. Also the support we received from the doctor and family liaisons at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who helped us through understanding of coroners inquest. We are forever grateful.
So as Paul says;
Let it be.
It is one more thing I can’t change. When we receive the death certificate I will find some place to hide it away. Forever, I imagine, too painful to look at. And now if someone asks me how my beautiful baby died, I will feel confident in answering them. That sepsis took our sweet girl. A life that could have been lived so fully, taken so cruelly early.