Logically, I know you are only 22 months old and can’t possibly comprehend what’s happening to Mummy at the moment. Rationally, I know you can’t be held accountable for the way you’re behaving towards me. But I also know enough about your sharp little mind to know that your behaviour is a direct result of what I’m going through and how unsettled it’s making you – regardless of whether you understand it yourself or are doing it on purpose (which, deep down, I know you can’t be… but that doesn’t make it any easier).
So this letter may sound angry and upset, because that is how I’m feeling, but I want you to know that that anger and upset isn’t directed at you. I just need a place to say that the things you’re doing at the moment – refusing to come near me, crying and screaming when I try to cuddle or read to you, clinging to the nearest adult who isn’t me until they take you away – are breaking my heart. I didn’t think that was possible, as I thought my heart was already broken after what happened last week. But clearly there is still some heart left to break, and this phase you’re going through is well and truly finishing the job! The thought that our special bond (after all, I’ve pretty much always been your favourite person) might be affected by this, no matter how temporarily, just adds insult to injury.
The truth is, I have just lost a baby. I thought he or she was going to grow into your little brother or sister, but now I will never even know if they were a he or a she, which I’m struggling to come to terms with. I’d already started picturing you as a big sister, and I think you’d have loved it – although I also think you would’ve found it hard not having my full attention anymore, and I’m sure that would’ve caused difficult behaviours not dissimilar to the ones you’re displaying now. Anyway, we will never know now. If and when we do bring a healthy sibling into the world for you in the future, it will be under an entirely different set of circumstances. You will be older and different; it will be a different baby; Daddy and I will be older and different too. We’ll never know how you would’ve coped becoming a big sister to this particular baby, at the age of two years and five months, with a Mummy aged 32 and a Daddy aged 37 – because that was a one-off opportunity and it has now gone forever.
It has gone, along with my left Fallopian tube, and along with what should’ve been my second baby. I was six weeks pregnant this time last week. Now I am no longer pregnant. Instead I am scarred, physically and emotionally, and missing a piece of my reproductive system. I only found out I was pregnant 16 days ago. Daddy and I felt so lucky, as it had happened very very quickly. But seven days ago, I started bleeding. Five days ago, I had a scan at a private clinic, which showed my womb was empty and a mass near my left ovary. Four days ago, I spent 13 hours in an NHS hospital, having more tests and scans to confirm that although I was indeed pregnant, it was a pregnancy that could never survive and needed to be removed for my own safety. That day culminated in surgery under general anaesthetic, during which the doctors removed ‘the mass’ – my baby – and the tube it had mistakenly started growing in. There were other options available to me, but they were all terrible. Surgery was actually the best of a bad bunch, believe it or not; to me, it was the option that offered the least stress and uncertainty, the fewest risks and the most direct route back to normality.
Four days later, I am recovering in bed. Physically I feel much less weak and am in much less pain than I was, but my stitches (which are small but in three places, thanks to keyhole surgery) are tender and I still feel a little bruised on the inside. I have told almost everyone I know what has happened – friends, family, colleagues – because somehow it feels easier to face up to it than to hide away. That’s why I’m writing this letter too. I don’t want to rush my recovery, and I’m under no illusion about the fact that the full force of the emotional impact this is going to have hasn’t hit me yet. But I do want to heal as quickly as possible without rushing it. I want to get back to mothering you, which I have barely done at all in the last few days. Regaining that normality and sense of purpose will make me feel a bit better, even if I’m still feeling very sad about losing your little brother or sister for weeks or months to come.
So bear with me. Mummy will be back soon, when she’s slept and cried some more. In the meantime please don’t give Daddy, Granny and Grandad too hard a time. And finally, I pray that this phase you’re in of rejecting me is short-lived, because it is so very painful on top of everything else.
I love you.
Thank you to Helen for sharing her letter with us. If you would like to share your experience of ectopic pregnancy, please visit our guide for more information.
If you would like to share your own letter or creativity inspired by your experience, you can find more information on our Words of Wellbeing page.
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