Vivienne McDonald passed-away in November 2017 from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of just 32. She left behind her miracle 18-month old son, Jacob, and devoted husband, Kenny.
“We found out that Viv was three months pregnant soon after we were told she had just a year to live. It was an enormous shock – but also a miracle. Previously, we were told she would never have children.”
Vivienne had also been living with a myriad of other serious illnesses including dermatomyositis, a muscle-weakening condition, fibromyalgia, arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. She had also suffered nine miscarriages.
“All she ever wanted was a child. She was adamant she wanted to go through with the pregnancy despite the threat to her health. We never discussed her prognosis – but I knew she knew that she didn’t have long.”
Vivienne spent her pregnancy in a wheelchair and on oxygen therapy. Jacob was delivered at 32 weeks by caesarean section. It was touch and go whether both of them would survive.
“When he was born, against the odds, she just lived for him. She made sure that she got to spend one birthday, one Christmas, see him take his very first steps and heard him call her mum. This was really special – and beyond what the doctors anticipated – though we both knew she wouldn’t live to see him grow up.”
For Kenny, understandably, losing Vivienne has been devastating and there have been some really dark times.
“At first I had no one to talk to and was overwhelmed with grief. Eventually, I made myself join the mother and toddler group. I was the only Dad! And the friends Viv made at her pulmonary fibrosis support group took me under their wing. They love hearing about Jacob.”
Kenny also visits a therapist to deal with his loss.
“It really helps me. You need to share your feelings. And often it’s easier with someone who isn’t close to you.”
Kenny said that the way his wife tackled her illness was “inspiring” and she was the most “kind and generous person” who always thought of others. He found notes after she had died addressed to Jacob for him to open at key milestones such as his 18th birthday. She had also prepared two memory boxes so that Jacob could remember his mum.
“Vivienne was so excited about meeting Jacob and she has left a wonderful legacy for him as he grows.”
While life is tough for Kenny he is starting to look to the future.
“Each day I look at my beautiful boy, now four, and I think how lucky I am to have him. It isn’t the same, but at least she’s still with me in some way. Jacob is my guardian angel. He gives me hope.”