Scars on the mind

“My face conveyed the words I didn’t speak. [The consultant] may as well have been telling me how he preferred his coffee or where he liked to go on holiday because he had lost me after the word ‘fractured’. The tiny baby in front of me, my baby, baby Amalie, had not even reached her due date and already had a broken arm.”

Excerpt from my upcoming memoir Defying Death and Demons – A Family Journey Through Neonatal Care Chapter 27

Walking through the park yesterday, my eldest daughter asked me if I’d ever broken a bone. ‘No, I haven’t,’ I replied.

‘Has Dad?’

‘No, don’t think so.’

‘Have I?’

‘No sweetheart,’ I answered.

I knew what the next question would be. She asked if her little sister had ever broken a bone and I laughed and replied, ‘Course not.’ And then felt instantly sick.

Because of course she has. Her arm broke even before she reached her due date. Why? Because she was born extremely prematurely and had metabolic bone disease (a reduction in bone mineral content that’s very common in preemies and makes for very brittle bones) How? Because one of the nurses or doctors was unfortunately just a little bit too rough in handling her while she was in neonatal intensive care.

It wasn’t even the worst thing she suffered, by far. In fact, the consultant reassured us that the fracture would heal on its own and was nothing in the face of the chronic lung disease and fungal sepsis that our daughter was battling. But it was one of the things that affected me most during the whole 5 months of her neonatal stay.

“As you know, Amalie has metabolic bone disease, meaning that her bones are very brittle. It doesn’t take much for them to snap. Snap. He said snap. Snap. Snap. I physically recoiled and shuddered every time my brain repeated the word.”

Excerpt from my upcoming memoir Defying Death and Demons – A Family Journey Through Neonatal Care Chapter 27

Having to explain all this to my 7-year-old while we walked through the park yesterday brought all those feelings flooding back. Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with an issue, but when we’re caught off guard, we realise that the emotions associated with the memory are still all there under the surface and perhaps always will be.

And sometimes that’s just the way it is, and maybe that’s okay. In the words of Aisha Mirza:

‘It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.’

Find our more about our neonatal stay and join the journey at

Published by Amy Brett

My name is Amy and I live in London with my husband and our two little ones. Our second was born unexpectedly at 24 weeks on a family holiday. This blog is about those crazy things that life becomes filled with when you become a mum to a preemie. It's about what they mean to me, how I feel, what my short-term and long-term emotional responses are, and how I am changing as a result of all these new experiences. It's also about how many of those experiences are shared by other preemie parents, or parents whose children are sick.

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