As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week, Sarah Newman has kindly shared her story with us. We'd like to say a massive thank you to Sarah and her family, because we really appreciate you sharing your personal experiences to help raise vital awareness during #BLAW21.
I was 19 weeks pregnant with my second child when they found the tumour on my cervix in 2018. A strange worry deep down told me from the beginning that something wasn’t right.
Following my diagnosis, we spoke to as many experts as possible to get a full picture and understand all our options. They gave us a complete overview of the benefits and risks of each potential road we could take – continuing with the pregnancy with just chemo or terminating to access the radiotherapy I needed to cure my cancer. All the evidence was laid on the table.
We kept being told there was no right or wrong way; which we quickly learnt was because there was no way of guaranteeing an outcome, whichever way we went. It was the risks we had to look at. We spent days going back and forth, changing our mind every hour, trying to find a way we could carry on with the pregnancy and save my life.
But at the back of our minds, we knew there was no choice here. To carry on would mean risking my life and my baby’s, given he would need to be delivered extremely premature following exposure to chemotherapy. Not only that, putting my life at risk meant my husband and son’s futures were at risk too, not to mention my parents, sister, family, and friends.
I could go on for pages explaining the thought process we went through, but it came down to the risks – they were just too high. When we heard back from a specialist we’d asked for a second opinion, she confirmed our biggest fears. The pregnancy was too early, the tumour too large and the evidence so limited. Quite rightly, the treatment they were recommending during pregnancy was described as ‘experimental’. We decided I couldn’t experiment with my life and our future.
It was the hardest, most heart-breaking decision we have ever been faced with and something I never ever wanted to do. We had made a plan, decided we wanted to expand our little family, we were committed to having another child. We had connected with him, felt him move, seen him on scan pictures. He was already part of us.
Three years on and I thought things would get easier. My counsellor described grief like a tennis ball in a jam-jar, leaving no room for anything else. As time goes by, the vessel gets bigger, the grief stays the same. Other things fill the space around it, but at times the grief rises to the top and reminds us of the pain we still feel.
But what we believed then and continue to live by today is that this baby was sent to give me a message. Without him we may never have known about the cancer. Because of him we found it and we found it early enough to treat and cure it. Because of him my life will be saved. Not many people achieve anything nearly as great as that in their lives. We are eternally grateful for what he has done. He will never ever be forgotten and will always be a huge part of our lives. He is my guardian angel.
To my son, Jacob Gabriel,
I wanted to write you a letter so you can take it up to the sky tonight.
I want you to know so much. That my love for you is deeper than you could ever imagine.
I hope you know how proud I am to call you my son. How proud I am to have made you, carried you and given birth to you. What you have done for me is more than what any single person achieves in a lifetime. That makes me so proud to be your mummy.
You will forever be the glue that binds our family together. The reason that Freddie will continue to have his mummy by his side, watching and helping him grow up. Why your Daddy has his wife to love him, support and grow old with. And why I will continue to be a daughter, sister, and friend to those we love so dearly.
Words will never begin to express how deeply I love and adore you. I wanted you to stay so badly. I hate that I couldn’t save you. I miss you every second of every day.
But now we must find the strength to feel you in our hearts. To feel you all around us. Because you will never be forgotten Jacob. You will always be my baby boy.
I speak to you every day, I hope you hear me. There’s so much I want to share with you; Freddie and Daddy too. They miss you dearly. Please keep sending us signs, we’ll be watching out for them.
I want you to know that from the day you left us I promised myself I would live every day for us both. Because every day is a gift from you that I will cherish.
You will forever be my guardian angel Jacob Gabriel. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Keep watching down on us baby boy.
I love you more than words can ever say.
Your Mummy. x