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A letter to myself - about my triplet pregnancy

Dear self,

First and foremost, I want you to know that you're ok. I know you doubt yourself as you sit there on the edge of the bed after your first ultrasound at 5 weeks, wondering how on earth you're going to manage three little babies when you've never raised one before. You're both excited and terrified for the future ahead. Let me tell you now that the road ahead will be much tougher than you could ever imagine possible, but through it all, you survive. You are ok.

Your pregnancy will not be the normal experience that you had hoped for. You will spend almost all of the weeks ahead being monitored in one way or another, but despite the morning sickness and sheer exhaustion you feel, your pregnancy will progress eventless and with time you gain the confidence in yourself and your abilities for the years that will follow. You get to know your three unborn little boys very well, each with their own personalities, each unique in their kicking patterns... until you don't. You will feel relieved and reassured by taking a trip to the hospital to check on them. They're fine... until they're not. Two days later you will go for your routine weekly scan and will hear the ground-crumbling words that no parent should ever have to hear. After 30 weeks of life, a fetomaternal haemorrhage has stolen your dreams, future, and baby. You are thrust into a game of Russian roulette with no option not to play - deliver all your babies early at risk, or leave them inside to grow at risk. The hospital will become your home for the next month until all three of your babies are delivered at 34 weeks. Two babies will cry and be whisked off to NICU, but the room will be silent when your second son is born. Time will stand still, whilst you're mesmerised by his beauty, his tiny fingernails, his button nose.

You will experience heartache like you never knew existed. Loud, hurricane volume heartache that will take your breath away. Bone deep heartache that forces you to your knees - sometimes even literally.  Your light will dim. Your faith will rattle. Your teeth will clench. You will learn that sadness, anger, fear, guilt, regret, yearning and despair are proficient sleuths that you can't evade; alete athletes that you can't outrun. The only way through is facing them head on, allowing them to come and go as they dictate, and becoming less fearful of their presence over time. And it is with this time that love, belief, faith, strength and joy will also start to visit. Don't lose hope. As much as you will wish the sun won't rise in the morning, it does.

The world will tell you to be grateful for the two sons you have and will dimish the feelings of the son you have lost. Silver linings will be cast at you from all directions. You will largely feel alone... until one day you don't. You will come across a charity that supports people, just like you; the founders wearing similar grief across their chests like a war medal; a beacon of hope. There you will find your family of friends. They will become your lost compass. They can't give you a map, but they will point you North again.You will learn to navigate. You will integrate your lost son into your life and his name will come from your lips as effortlessly as you breathe. He will remain an integral part of your family and your boys will blow kisses to heaven at night.

Slowly, you will start to realise that a piece of your heart will always be missing but it's possible for it to continue beating; it's broken but still functional. You will learn to smile without feeling guilty; learn to miss him without becoming completely undone; learn to celebrate the gift of him as well as mourn the loss of him; learn that healing doesn't equate to forgetting and you will allow yourself to begin that process; learn that grief and joy can and do co-exist. You will learn to be thankful that he existed for a short time than to never have known him at all. Instead of moving on FROM him, you move on WITH him, taking the best parts of him with you, carrying two babies in your arms and one in your heart. And whilst there's no reaching the other side of grief, you will learn that you are a brave soldier, so very proud of your three children, walking wounded, but ok.

So whilst you sit there on the edge of the bed, having just learnt of the three babies growing inside of you, fearful of what the future entails; please know, sweet girl, that you are much, much stronger than you could ever imagine. Those three little boys bring you such an immense amount of happiness and are each so fiercely loved for the rest of your life. So brace yourself for the rollercoaster ahead. Take each day as it comes, sometimes each hour or minute. But know, in the end, you are ok.

Love Catherine.

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