Memories that have been shushed for ages resurface when one least expect it.
When I was six years old, Mrs M, my adoptive mother, got pregnant. At the time, I was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland and had asked my parents if we could name my sister Alice. Thirty-six years ago, I didn’t know I was adopted and was so ready to become Alice’s big sister.
Mrs M has always suffered from high blood pressure. She had lost two babies. She was 35 and this was her last chance of having a baby. She hoped for a boy, but mother nature had granted her a girl.
My dad, Dr M, was monitoring her blood pressure and from the moment she hit the second trimester she was put on bed rest.
It was summer, so I was at home all the time. My nanny would make breakfast and turn on the TV for me. She would help me shower and occasionally play with me, as she was also cooking and taking care of Mrs M, who was extremely demanding and wanted my nanny’s attention 24/7.
I remember Mrs M’s bump, her purple and black dress, and her friends. They visited her every day at about 5pm to give her ox tail soup, which was supposed to be good for the baby.
One day, my Mrs M’s mum picked me up and took me to her place. I didn’t know what was going on, but two or three days later my dad picked me up. Mrs M was waiting in the car, she was still wearing the purple and black dress, but she looked different. There was no bump; she had lost Alice.
A few months before we had bought a set of tea cups that came in a small cardboard box with equestrian details. She was holding the box close to her chest, I didn’t know what was in there, but there was no room for questions.
When we got back home, my other grandparents, the ones on my dad’s side, were there. They took the box and hugged Mrs M. When I asked my parents what was in there, they told me it was my sister. She had died a couple of days before. I wanted to see her and asked for permission. My parents said yes, but I didn’t have the guts to ask my grandparents to open the box. They buried her in their backyard, along with other two stillborn.
Last year I got pregnant and was terrified about high blood pressure and preeclampsia. I called and visited my GP two or three times a week to make sure I was OK. When the GP asked why I was so anxious, I told her Mrs M’s story; it was then that she understood why I was panicking.
My little girl, however, didn’t make it. It was because of her death that I found out I was adopted.
Now that I’m pregnant again, Mrs M story still haunts me. I’m still terrified about high blood pressure, and although we don’t share the same genes, I can’t shake her story out of my head, but I really wish I could.