Read on from Part 1. Joey Bull takes us on a remarkably honest and harrowing journey and looks at the possibilities and limitations of managing life. 

After a full term pregnancy, I gave birth to our second son, Edward.

Despite a tiring pregnancy for me, he moved a lot and had good reports from detailed scans and tests. My waters broke and after kissing Oscar goodbye I went to hospital as contractions picked up. “I’ll be back home tomorrow” I told myself and anyone else who’d listen.


My mother had warned me not to tell her anything until the good news of the baby being born, it had been too stressful for her whilst waiting for Oscar! I kept to her word. Only there was no good news, they couldn’t find his heart beat. He’d died.

It was a long and miserable labour and my body took the same course as last time only worse

The physical pain was such that I couldn’t even cry for the tension that my tears created. It may not have been the birth I’d planned, but the hypnotherapy I’d worked so hard on kept me calm and focussed whilst the doctors and midwife bustled around me.

It was soon obvious that they hadn’t read my notes ‘Is this your first baby madame?’ and ‘Are you on Holiday?”. “I need a caesarian,” I said politely. I repeated this throughout the night. Whatever vital information I had relayed from my previous history and labour was discarded, dismissed, unread and I was soon to pay the price for their negligence.

Once again I was hideously out of control, living this unstoppable nightmare. I lay like a slab of meat. I was no longer a priority now that my baby was dead.

Much too late I had a c-section

By which time my womb had ruptured and the placenta had burst out, Edward was trapped high in the womb. No amount of medication administered was ever going to change that. Fortunately, Edward didn’t suffer any of this.

They discovered a true knot in his umbilical cord that must have tightened when the waters broke and that was the last time I felt him move. It was a certain and unquestionable death, the knot that he must have danced his way into in early pregnancy lay loose close to his tummy button for all those months. Then with loss of bouyancy it tightened so extremely tight, cutting his supply. No amount of science could have changed his outcome.

As you can imagine our world turned upside down

This wasn’t a case of him being deformed or poorly and nature terminating him. This isn’t a story of a pregnant mum eating too much unpasteurised cheese, shellfish, catching German measles, smoking, drinking, over exercising or under exercising.

This isn’t an unfortunate miscarriage that in the end, is for the better (and having had a couple, it isn’t out of order to say that). This was a perfectly formed otherwise perfect baby. Sometimes a Mum just knows. Tests proved right later.

The questions came thundering down and I’ve repeatedly fallen short of answering. It is however a story of being out of control.

I left hospital empty handed, my body and mind a mess

Do such harsh experiences shatter or shape you? Do they leave you with fortitude or fragility? Do you feel benevolence or bitterness? Now my faith was in tatters too.

We named him, cuddled him, had a service, put him in his coffin, Oscar tucked a drawing inside and we came home with his ashes. His little room and wee clothes lay unused. Even Oscar stopped using Edward’s cot as a hiding place. ‘But mummy I can’t play with ashes can I?”

The pain hung around, as did people. Some so kind, offering love, lasagnas and prayer. Some ignored me and looked the other way, clearly not knowing what to do or say. Honestly, just do something, even if it’s clumsy or wrong. Nothing is worse than doing nothing.

Oscar had questions too, I answered all I could, sometimes until we both fell asleep. He wanted to know how it happened. So with two teddies and my dressing gown tie, I showed him.

Later that day I’d found he’d put the teddies on his bed and tied a neat knot in the tie. “If I’d been in your tummy mummy, I’d have undone that knot and saved Edward.”

Managing life? How much control do we really have?

If so, where is the line drawn between our efforts for happy outcomes and what falls upon us? And what governs the cross over? If we get what we focus on, as I well believed we did and, thought I had over fortunate periods in my life, how come I never saw my child as anything other than a happy and healthy one?

It threw so much in the air.

What makes us these fit and healthy beings, our discipline or destiny? Both?

taking the reins of life pt 2_2

Sometimes we’re given these odd balls to run with and turn into something good, challenges to meet, disaster re-fashioned to advantage. But often we miss their point and end up returning to our default settings. We lock experiences away in a box or repackage them as something more acceptable. Wading against the tide as I see it. I must have waded a lot like that.

Despite events I continue to believe every cloud does have a silver lining, it’s just that other clouds eclipse it from our vision.

When our mind is open and quiet and not a babbling brook of thought, the clouds part and we feel such a simple reassurance of something. It is just so easy to miss the pleasure while we’re busy with planning and forging our way through things. I say this with the simplest of stories in mind.

Oscar’s way of expressing himself by re-decorating our home

In the weeks after Edward died Oscar was been especially creative and fashioned all types of household items into his expressive means of re-decorating our home. I found about a litre of our expensive imported toothpaste smeared over the patio doors with 5 metres of kitchen role loosely linking the pink splodges. I often found farm animals drowning in the flower vases and tea bags on my sleeping dog.

In the garden there is room for more of this kind of ‘artistry’ and, everything which requires batteries and delicate handling, had been immersed in the paddling pool. I could easily get angry with this or, I could see these drownings as symbolic and sad.

Or I could see it for what it really was, Oscar simply trying to do what he could with limited means to make a difference and put a smile on my face. So who was I to shatter that with a lecture on naughtiness and how much things cost? That’d be keeping the reins on life too tight and I’d be missing the messages along the way.

Like Edward’s brief visit… for despite the void and anguish we felt, he was a dazzling sparkle too and I would never choose to erase him if I was to relive this life again.

In work and life generally we are more and more wrapped up with analysis, measurements, plans, scalabilities, targets and exact outcomes

It is the same in business, in sports, even amongst people who are serious about their training. But you know what? Sometimes you can do everything right and more, and yet everything can go wrong. You can read the books, attend the seminars, follow the formulas of the gurus, study and apply.

But there are times when all of that counts for nothing. Life is just going to take one almighty swipe at you and you simply have to present your chin and take it. And that’s OK, because it’s what you do next that really counts…

As a post script – Against many odds I have had another child, my lovely Ottilie who is a wonderful blessing, an amazing sister to Oscar, and there’s no doubt the spirit of Edward still lives on in us all.

To find out more about Joey Bull and her incredible story, read Part 1 here.

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