Thirteen years later my heart still aches for what could have been

I left the hospital and drove to the coast, crying until I had no tears left to cry.

Story by Rebecca,

I was 17 when I fell pregnant. Labour started at 22 weeks 3 days. I have never felt so helpless or afraid.

The drugs given to help made me really sick and the ward was busy so for the most part I was completely alone. I was physically and mentally exhausted, scared and I ended up in theatre for delivery. In just a few more days she would have been ‘viable’ and they would have tried to save her.

She was taken away so I could have a GA to sort retained placenta. I woke up feeling like it was all a bad dream.

I was alone, scared and overwhelmed. A very sweet young midwife sat with me until her shift ended that morning. After that I seemed to be forgotten about. What I would have given for someone to hold me at that point and tell me everything was going to be OK. Having held it together, I sat in the shower and cried like I had never cried before. I decided not to have a post mortem or a private funeral. I'm still pretty ashamed I didn't go to the service and haven't been to the memorial garden. Maybe one day I will find the courage.

I left the hospital and drove to the coast, crying until I had no tears left to cry. A couple of times since, that same consuming grief has hit me again- never with any reason or warning.

I remember the shock when my milk came in, and then seemed to take forever to dry up but other than that I remember very little of the weeks that followed.

I spent years in total denial and very detached- virtually unaffected except for awful nightmares and an underlying anxiety I couldn’t really explain. It still feels surreal most of the time, yet my heart aches for her, and there isn't a day that goes by I don't think about her and what could have been.

I'm a pretty private person and a bit of a control freak so I found it very hard to deal with the fear and anxiety when pregnant again, almost 10 years later. I felt totally out of control and lived in varying states of panic- at times I felt like I was drowning.

I struggled to even acknowledge I was pregnant because of the fear of losing her too. Instead of dealing with what was going on in my head or admit I was struggling I cut off friends, deleted myself from social media and avoided all conversations about being pregnant. Even in labour I didn’t really allow myself to believe everything would be OK.

As it goes, everything was more than okay, and I’ve been so blessed with the most amazing daughter.