Good morning everyone I’m on the blog tour for Still Standing by Natalie Queiroz today and I have a fantastic extract to share with you today which is from one of the most personal and poignant parts in the book.
Still standing is available in ebook and paperback now. You can purchase your copy using the link below.
Natalie Queiroz was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed by her partner in the most vicious attack imaginable.
In the space of nine minutes, and in broad daylight, Natalie was stabbed twenty-four times with a carving knife. She suffered horrific wounds to her lungs, liver, stomach and uterus, whilst the knife missed her baby by a margin of two millimeters, before the arteries in her wrists were methodically severed by the hooded attacker she finally realised was her partner and the father of her unborn child.
After heroic intervention by passers-by and police, the attack was brought to an end, but her ordeal was not over. An air ambulance rescue was launched, and against all medical odds, Natalie and her baby survived – but not without life-changing physical and emotional damage.
Still Standing is the story of one life-shattering event – what came before that fateful day, what happened on it, and how one woman and her baby survived to rebuild and heal together after it. At once a shocking story of evil, manipulation and violence, and a truly moving reminder that a life can be pieced back together, no matter how bad the damage, this book will empower and inspire anyone who has ever faced true adversity to rise up and stand tall.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… rhythmic, pulsing, electronic noise. Slight move of my head… mouth open, tube down my throat… slowly being pulled out. Gagging. Head groggy, eyes slowly focusing.
What the **** is going on?
‘Natalie, hi, Natalie… Do you know where you are?’
A voice came from somewhere, I’m not even sure where.
‘Erm…’What?! What the hell is happening? The attack… The helicopter… The baby? Bobby?…
‘The QE… I think I’m in the QE…’ I slurred, my eyes not wanting to open properly.
‘That’s right, Natalie. You are in the QE. You were brought here yesterday after you were badly attacked in the street. Do you remember that?’
I nodded. Stabbed… I was stabbed, my head was telling me. They think it was Bobby – was it? Surely that wasn’t true?
’You have a little baby daughter, Natalie. She is alive, in Intensive Care at the Women’s Hospital – a true little fighter.’
I smiled and nodded to show I’d heard them.
The baby survived? How? I thought the knife would have killed her. Our baby, Bobby’s daughter, is here. Born alive… My little girl.
I think I must have drifted off again, stirring out of the blackness some time later. As my eyes opened and adjusted to the light, I saw many people near my bed, looking at me in concern. I couldn’t move my body. Tubes and wires seemed to be coming out of me or be attached to every part of my body. I felt numb, alone.
Bobby… he can’t have gone? He can’t have done this, surely? I needed him, I wanted him. Where was he?
That question was soon to be answered as the police visited my bed later that day. Soon, it became apparent who the man sat near the end of my bed was, too: I was having twenty-four-hour police guard for at least the next few days – standard procedure in a case like this. As DI Ian Ingram and his colleagues came in and
introduced themselves, a sense of empathy radiated from them.
‘Where’s Bobby?’ was my first question.
‘Natalie, we need to ask you what you can remember about yesterday. Do you remember who attacked you?’
‘I was attacked in Sutton… as I walked down Trinity Hill. I was stabbed… lots of times.’
Had it all really happened?
‘And I think I remember being told it was my partner Bobby, but I can’t fully remember…’
Every part of me was wishing they would tell me I was wrong but, deep down, I knew I had remembered it correctly, plus he wasn’t with me.
‘Yes, Natalie, you were attacked in the street yesterday by a man with a knife. That man was indeed your partner, Babur Raja – Bobby. He’s under arrest at Sutton Coldfield police station, currently being questioned.’
Tears streamed down my face as I lay back on the pillow, coursing past my earlobes and landing on the white linen behind my head. The officers looked at me with concern, knowing this was almost certainly beyond anyone’s ability to take in, especially after coming out of a coma following a violent attack.
‘Natalie, I’m really sorry but we need to take a statement from you about the attack. It’s really important that we do so sooner rather than later. Anything at all you can remember may be key in this. I know it’s difficult and if you don’t feel well, just tell us,’ an officer informed me.
Feel unwell? I’m in Critical Care, unable to move, attached to monitors, drains, oxygen, drips, catheters. I’ve been stabbed lots of times by the man I adore. Don’t think I feel that perky now, if I’m honest…
My head betrayed my thoughts and nodded. They had to do it, that much I understood, and so I numbly pushed on through this surreal world I had woken up into. I went through my account of the previous day in as much detail as I could recall whilst an officer scribbled it all down on official statement sheets.
How is this happening? This surely can’t be real? my head screamed.
The statement was to be used in court at a much later date. As we finished, or I drifted off to sleep (I’m not entirely sure which), I was presented with a pen and asked to sign what I had just gone through. I went to move my left arm, but it was heavy – encased in bandages and plaster.
Of course, he slit open my wrist on my left hand. Is the hand OK? I wondered.
I put my right hand up to my bandaged limb and stared at the exposed fingertips. That was the moment when I realised the damage to my hand was serious – I couldn’t feel it at all. I tried to wiggle the tips of my fingers. Nothing, it was dead. Completely dead.
Is my hand still intact? Am I going to lose it?
My head swam with questions. The gravitas of my whole situation was sinking in me, like the Titanic into the icy waters. I was drowning with it too, it was almost all too much to bear.
‘I want to speak to him.’
I turned to face the officers. They stared at me in sympathy, knowing I was struggling to understand exactly what had happened.
‘You won’t be able to have any contact with him at all, Natalie. Not until the investigation and trial is completely over,’ an officer replied kindly.
But he’s my partner, the father of my baby! I should be able to speak to him at least! Why on earth did he do this, just why?
Fresh tears streamed down my face. The police went off, saying they would return. They thanked me and the doctors. I then saw my family for the first time. Everyone was acting as if things weren’t that bad, but their faces told me everything I needed to know. I wasn’t totally ‘out of the woods’ and I pushed down the rising fear that I could still die. Then my thoughts turned to my baby: how was she? Was she out of the woods herself?
‘Have you seen her?’ I asked croakily, my eyes searching theirs to see if there was anything they were hiding from me.
‘Yeah, we’ve seen her. We’ve just been with her now whilst you were with the police,’ Mum replied, smiling, holding back the tears. ‘We even got to see her last night so she wasn’t alone.’
‘What’s she like?’ I wanted to know. Then it came bursting out: ‘Does she look like him?’
There was a noticeable pause around the bed.
‘She’s absolutely beautiful, Nat. Perfect little girl,’ said Mum, smiling again.
‘Who does she look like, Mum?’ I noticed she had swerved that part.
‘She does look a bit like him, I won’t lie to you. But she’s so tiny and her own person,’ she added.
More tears came like a wave over me. My daughter, the baby Bobby and I chose to have, the baby he so wanted – but he wasn’t here.
I couldn’t ask any more questions so I settled my head to one side and dropped off to sleep again. High volumes of morphine and a cocktail of other drugs flowed through my bloodstream, taking the edge off the physical and emotional pain.
Life was more than I could bear. I had woken up in a true nightmare, a hellhole.
How on earth could I pull through this? But I didn’t have any answers, I was numb.
About The Author:
Natalie Queiroz is the survivor of one of the most appallingly brutal attacks imaginable. After being stabbed two dozen times by her partner when she was eight months pregnant, she has rebuilt her life and inspired people the length and breadth of the country with her courage and refusal to be bowed by her trauma. Alongside a successful full-time career, she has since become a motivational speaker and, through various feats of endurance and daring, raised thousands of pounds for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity she owes her life to.