‘Geoff… GEOFF?!’ His eyes were wide open, staring at the sky struggling to breathe. He went limp.’: Pregnant woman loses husband from freak seizure on vacation, ‘they wouldn’t let me see him’

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“We met in 2008, and within 5 minutes I knew he was the one. He was tall, charming, handsome, soft, witty… what more could you want in a guy?

I was just 30 when he died. A baby myself, some might say. Well, I have never grown up so quick, so soon.

I was 19 weeks pregnant, and I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that pregnancy is the only thing that kept me here. We were married a wonderful seven months after a whirlwind relationship. Life was amazing, happy, exciting. Then my reality hit.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

Widowed, nowhere to live, no life insurance and moving back from London to live with my parents, pregnant with our little Bubba. I have never felt a wave of darkness wash over me as quick as I did that day.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

We had been on a lovely family holiday to Portugal in July 2011, everything was perfect. A week with parents, then a week to enjoy to ourselves. The day our parents were due to leave, we went out on an organized boat trip, and Geoff decided to go in for a swim. 5 minutes in, he started to have some sort of seizure in the water. I shouted at him, ‘Geoff…. GEOFF?!,’ but no response. I shouted again, this time more urgent, more desperate for an answer. His eyes and mouth were wide open, as he stared at the sky struggling to breathe. Then he went limp. It all happened in less than 40 seconds. As they took him to shore, leaving us on the main boat, I had no idea what life was about to throw at me. I shouted at the captain to bring us back to Albufeira. The answer I got was chilling: ‘You need to think of the other people who paid for this trip, I cannot just turn the boat around.’ It was 2 hours and 20 minutes before they came back to get my mother, father-in- law and I to take us back to shore. We sat there for all that time, hoping, praying that he was going to be ok. We were comforted by fellow passengers, all wishing the same thing.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

I don’t remember a huge amount from the moment I got the news: ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could, he didn’t make it.’ ‘We worked on him for a long time.’ I laughed nervously. Then I passed out. When I came to, I was hooked up to a drip and I asked the paramedic to let me see him. He wouldn’t. He then asked me, ‘how would you feel if you lost your husband and your baby in the same day?’ I was then taken to hospital to be scanned, still without seeing Geoff or being able to sit with him to process what had just happened. It took us another 2 days to find out where they had taken him, and when we finally did, we went straight there. We stood outside the big iron door of the morgue in Portimao. I stared at it, hoping the person in the other side was in fact some stranger, and not my gorgeous, gentle giant of a hubby. I asked his best friend to hold my hand and if it was him, squeeze it. As we walked in, I kept my eyes closed, full of hope. And then it came, that gentle squeeze. I opened my eyes and there he was. My husband of 7 months. The father of my growing little bean in my tummy. My soul mate. My Geoff. He looked absolutely perfect. I held his hand and cried and tried to take it all in. I noticed an eyelash on his cheek, and to this day it lives in my wallet.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

We got him home to Ireland on the Thursday and buried him 2 days later. It was a wonderful send off, just how he would have wanted it. From that moment I was surrounded by people/faces all the time, in a haze of grief, until in and around the time my water broke at 1 a.m. on the December 11, 2011.

My beautiful baby girl:

There it was. The moment I had been waiting for, to hold our beautiful baby, the one we had made together, the reason I was still here. I had no idea how I was going to do this, but with my mum and sister by my side, she made her appearance. Our beautiful, perfect baby girl.

Mark Griffin Photo

I felt a new wave of relief, but also devastation. She was out, (albeit 2 weeks early) she survived 19 weeks of me crying, unable to eat, unable to breathe, panic attacks. She was perfect. But he wasn’t here. Nothing could have prepared me for that bit. The pain in my heart that he would never get to meet her. The labor was difficult and full of complications. I had to stay in hospital for 5 days, then 2 days after I got home I had to be readmitted. I then had 12 weeks of sitting on a ring cushion, and more surgery followed in March the following year to repair the damage done. I felt so angry that this was happening to me.

She is almost 8 years old now. And the light in my world. She knows just what to say, when to say it (sometimes a little too much!) She makes me smile and laugh in ways I never thought I’d be able to again. She talks openly about the man she never met, her Daddy. It’s her ‘normal.’

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

It’s been a roller coaster ride since July 2011, but a journey I am proud of. I forced myself to live. I met a wonderful man at a mutual friend’s wedding in 2013, and to be honest, he deserves a Nobel peace prize for putting up with me at this stage. There was something about him that I couldn’t get enough of. He made me feel a spark again, made me feel alive! It took him a little while to realize I was interested, but after a sneaky kiss outside the restaurant we had been eating in, we haven’t looked back. He knew all about what had happened, and about Lily, so I guess that made it somewhat easier. He is an incredible man. He’s been by my side, through all of my emotions, my tears, my frustrations. He is simply amazing.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

Lily absolutely adores him too. He moved from London to Ireland in 2016. We are making awesome new memories, but I will always treasure my old ones. The relationship came with a world of new emotions but we have dealt with all of them together.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston
Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

We added to our little family with the arrival of Dylan in 2018, and we got married in August this year. It was the most emotional wedding I have ever been to, surrounded by our closest friends and family, but the most incredible day.

Picturehouse Photography
Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

I look back over the last 8 years with so much emotion. From going from not wanting to live, not being able to see a future, to having a beautiful home, another gorgeous tiny human, and a husband. I feel incredibly lucky, in spite of all of the trauma and heartache.

Michael Nolan Photography
Michael Nolan Photography
Courtesy of Sinead Hingston

There is light at the end of my once very dark, very scary tunnel.

After swearing I’d never ever meet anyone again, here I am, in love. Having said that I would never have more children, here I am, beaming with pride at my two tiny humans. After having said I couldn’t do this without him, here I am, doing it.

There is always hope. Time is a wonderful thing we all take for granted in everything we do. I have my ups and downs. I’d be lying if I said that I had never thought about how much better off everyone would be if I wasn’t around, but those thoughts pass. There were days where I really just want to curl up under a duvet and not leave the house, but I made myself, because I knew that feeling would pass, I knew things would get better, I’m living proof.

Michael Nolan Photography

When you hit the bottom, the ONLY way is up again.

So when you are feeling like this is it, like you can’t do this anymore, just wait… Just take your time. Take a deep breath and surround yourself with the people/things that make you feel better, that make you feel happy. Talk to people, they will want to help but they need to know you feel that way (we are scarily amazing at hiding how bad we can feel).

Do that for as long as it takes, because time will help you rebuild, it will help you feel better. That I promise you.

If anything can come of any of this, it’s that I can share my story and help someone else to see that the dark cloud will lift, and you will live again, not just exist.

Courtesy of Sinead Hingston
Michael Nolan Photography
Michael Nolan Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sinead Hingston. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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