A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I awoke from a fitful night’s sleep. For the past few days I had been suffering from what I thought was heartburn. It was worse at night, and I had been sleeping poorly since it started.

Normal heartburn medicine had no effect. At 24 weeks’ pregnant, I thought heartburn was a normal part of having a baby. I had never been pregnant before, nor had I had heartburn. I did not know any different.

I called in to work sick. I felt utterly rotten. I had a routine midwife appointment later that day, where I was going to beg for stronger, prescription heartburn medicine. All I needed was for the heartburn to subside, and for a decent night’s sleep, I thought. I would then be right as rain and would potter along as planned for the remaining 16 weeks until I got to meet my baby boy.

The majority of the day was spent feeling rather sorry for myself, huddled on the sofa under my favourite snuggly blanket. I stroked my bump, and chatted to my baby as I did every day. I watched the Winter Olympics – it was luge or bobsleigh that day. My memory is hazy on the details, but I remember enjoying watching people hurtle down mountain tunnels at incredible speed.

Even though I was feeling so rotten, they were actually my last moments relaxing as a pregnant woman. An excited (though nauseous) expectant mother.

Late afternoon, I got myself ready to go to the midwife. Martin came with me, as he did to all appointments. I grabbed my handbag, making sure my notes were in there. I needed a wee, but saved it for the sample I’d need to get once I arrived.

I thought I would be out of the house for about an hour. In no time at all, I would be back on the sofa under my blanket watching the Olympics. Even better, I would have medicine that would make the awful heartburn go away.

Me at 20 weeks

Me at 20 weeks

It didn’t work out that way. The wee sample suggested a serious problem, as did my ridiculously high blood pressure. I got sent straight to hospital. No passing ‘Go’, or collecting £200.

I was a lot longer than an hour away from home. Six weeks away from home, in fact.

Most of you will know the story, but for the benefit of those who don’t soon arrival at hospital I was diagnosed with the rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. The only cure is for the baby to be born. I was so sick the doctors thought my baby would have to be born that night. He wasn’t born that night thankfully, giving him an extra few precious days inside my tummy.

But even given those few extra days, Hugo was born too early. Far too early.

Blissfully, I was away with the fairies for the worst of the time as an inpatient, thanks to the cocktail of drugs I was on. Martin bore the brunt of the terror, as did my family and friends. I had no idea how seriously ill I was. My focus was on my baby. It only hit me much later, after Hugo had died.

A year ago today, my life changed completely and irrevocably. Our innocence ended. It turned out that bad things happen not only to ‘other people’. They can happen to us, too.

A year ago today, I learnt that life can change in an instant.

Life can change for the worse. I nearly died, Martin nearly had to face returning home alone.

Our precious son fought so hard. I cried all the time. I missed Hugo. I missed him being in my tummy, where he belonged and where he should have still been. I missed being pregnant. I hated being apart from him, even though we spent as much time as was possible with him. I missed the third trimester of my pregnancy, looking forward to his birth. I missed all the things I was looking forward to doing with my new baby, and his daddy.

We returned home without Hugo.

I missed Hugo even more. Not being able to visit him in his incubator. No cares, no singing, no reading, no cuddles. No hope.

I am nostalgic for my dreams for the future. Dreams untarnished by heartbreak, fear, terror.

Mostly, life has just changed. Not better, or worse as such. Different. Fewer expectations; less patience, yet more patience; more determination, yet a greater appreciation of my limits.

A year ago today, I woke up as any other pregnant woman. Unremarkable in the grand scheme of things. I thought I was pretty special of course; I loved being pregnant, pregnancy was so special to me. Knowing a brand-new life that I had helped make was growing inside me.

Happy and healthy, both my baby and me.

Such a simple concept, so greatly missed.



13 thoughts on “A Year Ago Today

  1. Tim says:

    Oh, Leigh. Hearing the story second time around is no less sad. If nothing else, it’s a salutary reminder to everyone not to take anything – or any day – for granted.


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