Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Ten Fingers, Ten Toes and a Cute little Button Nose

on September 28, 2015

28 September, 6 months.  James decided to dig deep into his wardrobe and have a clean out.  A feat generally unheard of from a teenage boy!  I didn’t realise he was even doing it until he emerged carrying a box.  Apologising to me he handed me the box telling me he thought that in it were some birthday cards.  James’ bedroom used to be Pippa’s before I moved her into a room close to mine.  Close so I could hear her every breath every night.  And then, later,  I moved her even closer – right into my room.  James was correct.  In the box was a collection of birthday cards of Pippa’s.  I knew this without lifting the lid.  But lift the lid I did anyway.  To my amazement sitting on the very top of some of her birthday cards from when she was a toddler were two ultrasound pictures.  They were from twelve years ago to the day.  The hairs stood up on the back of my neck, my heart stopped and I burst into tears.

Ten fingers and ten toes.  As parents we all check and count with the same intensity of looking at a four leaf clover – making sure we’re counting correctly.  We listen for the first cry – a sign of good, healthy lungs.  We marvel at our newborn’s instinct to attach to the breast and suckle.  They scrunch up their little bodies so used to being curled up in the womb and then time stands still when they first lock eyes with their mother.  Perfect moments of bliss.  Pippa was all that.  Perfect in every way a tiny little newborn should be.  Perfect in the way that all mothers want and hope that their newborns are.  She was born at 39 weeks measuring 48cms and weighing 8 pounds 1 ounce.  ‘Short and fat’ I remembered my brother calling her!  She had an Apgar score of 9 at 1minute and 10 at 5minutes.  She breastfed immediately.  She slept perfectly.  She rarely (in fact I could almost say never) cried.  Pippa was utterly perfect.  A blessing to James, Patrick and me.  Utterly adored.  A treasure we only had for eleven years.

Ten fingers, ten toes, a cute little button nose and a time bomb ticking inside her brain.  I found myself wondering what if I had have known then? What if, at her 20 week ultrasound I knew what twelve years time was going to bring me?  Of course I would have not done a thing.  How could I not have a life full of Pippa for eleven years?  How could Pippa not have a life of eleven years?  Would have our lives been different if I had known what was going to happen?  They most certainly would have.  I know how I was for the 2 years I did know what was going to happen.  A living hell every time I shut my eyes.  I shudder at the thought of having to do that for 11 years.  I’m grateful that twelve years ago I didn’t know what lay ahead.  I would not have wanted that crystal ball.

I then found myself wondering about the next 12 years.  What would the crystal ball show if Pippa hadn’t had a time bomb in her head?  Would she grow up OK?  Unscathed?  The 6 o’clock news doesn’t give us much comfort for what lies ahead – fears for teenagers and young adults; and the fears for our daughters are possibly worse than those for our sons.  I found myself asking what if I just accepted the time bomb and alleviated those fears?  No was the very quick answer.   I would take any fear that I could possibly ever have for the future if it meant that Pippa was still here.  We can hold our children tightly and fear for their safety, their wellbeing and their future.  But I can’t hold Pippa anymore.  To be able to hold her, feel her, hear her, see her smile…far outweighs any fears that the newspapers and televisions can put in front of me.

Instead I have new fears.  Fears for me, James and Patrick in a life and a future without Pippa.  Fears for our wellbeing.  Fears for the scars that Pippa’s brothers will forever carry.  A tragic burden they should never have to endure.  Heartache.

Count as we might, superstitions or not, it turns out that ten fingers and ten toes cannot guarantee us anything.  Not life.  Not happiness.  Not health.

5 responses to “Ten Fingers, Ten Toes and a Cute little Button Nose

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for that amazing post. Goosebumps for sure. You are right… there are no guarantees in life – perhaps with the exception of love. When it all comes down to it it all that counts and I know you, the boys and Pip shared, and continue to share a deep and amazing love – I think that is guaranteed. Lots of love, C

  2. Very moving Virginia…it was like reading my thoughts and feelings exactly.
    I have recently been following your blog as your family’s story is remarkably similar to ours.
    We lost our precious daughter Jaydah to a brain tumour February 2015 after a long 4 year battle.
    I have been inspired by you to start my own blog about Jaydah and our family’s continued journey in the hope it will be therapeutic in some way.

    Thoughts with you and family


  3. Jacquie says:

    Yes so many emotions in your amazing writing!! How gorgeous to have the box of such amazing memories yet so so difficult!!! I just know that your gorgeous girl of ten toes and 10 fingers is just so loved and what an amazing girl she was full of so much personality of so many talents. Crystal balls hey!!! I don’t think they are in abundance for lots of reasons. One step at a time….you are so amazing Virginia how you can put this on paper. Very talented mum of Pippa you are!!! Xx

  4. Anna Wilson💘 says:

    I miss Pippa so much, and I agree that she was perfect. She will remain in my heart forever as I could never forget my happy, fun, lively, inspirational and positive best friend. Love to you and the boys, xx Anna

  5. Emma Mclaren💙 says:

    I know how hard it must’ve been for you to know what was going to happen to her, that you weren’t going to be able to hold her anymore, you must hate thinking what might happen in the future because you don’t know what might lie there, I know what it is like to dread what happens in the future but you know that she will always be looking after you from heaven
    Lots of love for you and the boys try and stay strong, but I know that it will be hard to.
    From Paul, Angela, Ethan, Noah and Emma xx

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