A Mothers Sacrifice

A mother’s love is reckless and sacrificial. I wanted to be able to do something for her because I’m her mum. And I couldn’t. So, this is my story. It’s hard, it’s a hard story. When you’ve lived through something that is so profoundly devastating, you kind of see the world through different eyes. My name is Heidi. I’m 33 years old and lived near Bristol, with my partner, Keith, and my two gorgeous boys, Noah and Tate. I fell pregnant with my third child, which was awesome. What’s in mummy’s tummy? Say it. A chocolate mousse. It is chocolate mousse. Chocolate mousse is the baby? Yeah. But just days after my first baby scan, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Malignant cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. Most cancer treatments risk harming a developing fetus, so Heidi did what any mom would do. She chose a treatment that will not affect her baby. Chemo goes in here and blood tests can come out of here. Probably not as good a job as the nurses would do. But she is too weak to fight her cancer. Tough love. Doctors hope it will be enough to keep her illness at bay long enough for her to give birth. It really lightened everything up, it’s like the icing on the cake, sort of thing, that it was a girl. I wonder if girls play like this. Or shall they just sit there, like, serenely play with their dolls. I hope so. Yeah. I’m hoping she’ll be less exhausting than the boys. I doubt it. And less of a terror. I have to take a risk for my life to protect my baby, but at the same time, I’ve got two young children already. Everything that is scary and sad is all around the kids. Despite remaining positive, Heidi receives bad news that her cancer is spreading. She must start a stronger course of chemo. But before that, she has to risk an extremely premature birth. Heidi is now faced with an impossible decision. Babies born at 28 weeks, actually, as a group, you know, as a whole, actually do really quite well. If you ask mothers what the most important thing is, a mother will almost always say they would put their baby’s life above and beyond their own life. But as a mother of 2, Heidi has more than her unborn baby to think about. We have also got to factor Noah and Tate into the equation. And that’s the problem, because if it was just about the baby, then it would be exceptionally easy. But because we’ve also got the boys to think about, oh, it’s so hard, really difficult. Heeding her Doctor’s advice, Heidi delivers her baby prematurely. Welcome to the world, little baby. Ah, she’s so worth it. Yeah, we know. Baby Ally, she’s absolutely beautiful. She came out in really, really good condition. She was crying almost before she came out. She was smaller than I thought she was going to be. Her face was like that big and was really tiny and gentle and small. It almost felt like, “Oh, just put her back in. We’ll wait. We’ll give her another couple of months”, you know. The birth was a success, but baby Ally has to be kept in intensive care. I don’t want to leave her, but I couldn’t do this for her at home. It’s not going to benefit her if I sit here for the next three months lying on the floor. It’s just, she’s so delicate. It’s like, every time you touch her, I keep thinking it’s like diffusing a bomb, because she’s got seven million different wires going into all different places. It’s like, handling like the most delicate little person. Hello, bubba. Oh, I missed you. Did you miss me? I love you. Has your baby gone back in there? Has the baby gone back in there? No, she’s still in the hospital. Oh. The following day, baby Ally catches a rare and fatal infection, and 3 days later, she passes away in the arms of her parents. With Ally, you know, when she was born, it was the most intense feeling of love that I had when I had the boys, that rush of love and fierce protection towards your baby, and the relief that I felt because she was okay, and that she was for five days. She was fine. So, at that point, we completely made the right decision. She’s here. She’s safe. She’s well. Now I can get treatment and I’m going to be here for all three of my children. And that’s how I felt and then, suddenly it was all taken away. And I just wanted to try and do something for her. I wanted to be able to do something for her because I’m her mum and I couldn’t. And straight after that, I had to go in and have chemotherapy. This drug, Herceptin, is the exact reason why Ally was born early for me to have this exact fluid that’s going into my arm now. So, if I wanted to blame someone or something, I sit here sometimes and think, “this drug is the reason she died”, and sometimes I feel like that. Potentially the cancer spread, but for a moment, I can tell you, I didn’t even care, because I’d lost Ally. But the tragic loss of baby Ally only strengthened Heidi’s will to live. She made a bucket list of all the things to do with her boys. I want to be able to say, “We did it all and I was there for it”. We’re just going to start ticking off those things and see how we go on.

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