Ever feel like all your dreams are coming true? Well, in August 2011, Nicola Rigby and I were expecting our first baby and she said yes when I asked her to marry me.
I felt like the luckiest man alive. Our daughter Lily arrived in February 2012 and Nicky loved being a mum. The sleepless nights exhausted her though, and she looked pale and drawn.
After tests, the doctor gave her iron tablets. They didn’t help but Nicky didn’t want me fussing. She put it down to being a new mum, just got on with things, including planning our wedding. We narrowed it down to Greece or Cyprus and chose the song for our first dance, Take That's ‘Rule the World’.
Nicky looked at dresses too. She only wanted to buy one once she’d lost the baby weight. I remember thinking it wouldn’t take long as the pounds seemed to be vanishing before my eyes. Then Nicky caught a bug.
Insisting I go to the cinema with friends as planned, she went to bed feeling sick. I took Lily to my mum’s place, so she could have a really good rest. By the time I got home, it was gone midnight.
'Nicky wasn't breathing'
Poking my head round our bedroom door, I thought I heard a sleepy 'Hi'. Then moments later, groaning. Switching on the light, I saw that Nicky was surrounded by black vomit. She wasn’t breathing either.
Frantic, I tried CPR, but paramedics pronounced Nicky dead. It wouldn’t sink in. She was just 26. We were supposed to be getting married. But her body was taken away to hospital.
Baby Lily has to grow up without a mum
Arriving at Mum's, I looked at Lily, just five months, sleeping peacefully in her cot. I felt heartbroken. Angry too. Nicky had wanted to be a mum so much. Now she wouldn't see our little girl grow up.
I couldn’t face going home. So Mum collected mine and Lily’s clothes, said we could move in with her. We played ‘Rule The World’ at Nicky’s funeral. After, the grief was unbearable. I thought I wasn’t enough for Lily.
I didn’t feel able to feed, dress or even hold my little girl. My mum had to do everything. And I felt so confused. How could Nicky die from a tummy bug? It turned out she didn’t. An inquest heard she’d had undetected diabetes. We hadn’t recognised the symptoms - tiredness, going to the loo more often, rapid weight loss.
Insulin would've saved her life
The coroner explained diabetes had made Nicky so sick her oesophagus rotted. That’s why her vomit was black. Worst of all, my lovely fiancée could’ve been saved by taking insulin. Such a terrible waste.
Not long after, Lily started wheezing. Her breathing got so bad she was taken to hospital, hooked up to a ventilator. I was terrified I would lose her too. Thankfully, Lily stabilised. Doctors told me she was asthmatic and had been in terrible danger. But now, she was fighting back.
A week on, I was allowed to take her home. I realised I needed to look after my girl myself. Cuddling her and caring for her made me feel close to her, and Nicky, again. Lily is two now.
New mums be aware of diabetes
We’ve moved into our own flat and have photos of Nicky everywhere. I want all new mums to be aware of diabetes. And to get tested for it if they’re worried. Don’t just battle on through exhaustion, like my lovely, brave Nicky tried to do.
For more information after diabetes, go to www.diabetes.org.uk or call the Diabetes UK Careline 0345 123 2399.