when we lost our daughter
This is not for the faint of heart. Nor for those who turn a blind eye or can’t handle the raw reality behind a loss parent. For those who believe its not a big deal or for those who just don’t care. Move along.
For those of you who sometimes wonder, what happened with your daughter? what was it like? Whats that process like? What are they thinking… How did this go?
Well, here you go. Questions… thoughts, wondering. Here it is.
This has taken me a long time to put thoughts to paper. To articulate. And even today, through tears… I want to share our real life, raw experience of a Termination for Medical Reasons parents. Because thats our term. TFMR. Get familiar if you’d like.
Just imagine, for a minute or two…
Imagine, you find out you’re pregnant… full of fear, apprehension but tingling excitement.
Oh boy, here we go again!
Did you make the right choice? Is your family meant to be four instead of three?
How will life change? Will it really?
Can you be a good parent to two, rather than one?
Do you have enough time, love and energy…
You’ll find it.
Imagine, through your first trimester you develop negative thoughts…
Thoughts you didn't have with your first child
You made the wrong choice.
You hate being pregnant.
You are losing control over the one thing you need and want control over.
Yourself. Your body. Your emotions.
Once again, its no longer yours and you have overwhelming dread and regret.
But you can’t possibly voice this. You can’t be honest. You’ll be ridiculed and judged.
Many will say
You should be happy
You don’t need to worry about you, just worry about the baby
Dont be selfish
Now is not the time to worry about that stuff
They dont and can’t understand… and really, you shouldn’t have to explain.
You internalize. It festers, it grows, it overtakes you.
You try to switch your thinking to what you think others will say or try to make you feel.
Your own internal daemons fighting back and forth with how you really feel, vs how you “should” feel.
Second trimester comes.
You start to feel kicks.
You find out you’re having a baby girl.
Your heart breaks open.
You realize … you’re having a daughter. A mini you.
A little mini pineapple running around.
The world just changed with the bite of a pink cupcake and your son saying PINK icing!
The days go on, your heart starts to change.
You realize you need to be better and stronger for your soon to be little girl.
You start to connect differently.
You attend a midwife appointment that doesn’t go as planned.
COVID times restrict the timing of bloodwork and ultrasounds.
Things are delayed.
You start to panic not knowing answers to simple questions because quite frankly,
The midwives, hospital staff and lab technicians are tired and irritated with people, like me.
Then, things start to feel wrong.
Your body recognizes something isn’t right.
The phone rings and its the doctor letting you know
Your baby ‘likely’ has a rare genetic disorder, and we need you to do further testing.
Immediately, your heart sinks.
You did this.
You manifested in your head that this wasn’t right for so long at the beginning
That it became wrong.
Your negative thoughts created this outcome.
But you didnt mean it.
You didnt know.
You’re sorry. So, so sorry.
You go to the hospital… they shove a needle so long into your stomach.
You see your baby waving on the ultrasound.
Hear her heart beat.
You see your husband cry.
Its the first time hes heard her … or seen her.
COVID hasn’t allowed him to be a part of anything, till now.
His heart breaks as he squeezes your hand because deep down
He knows this is the only time he’ll get with her.
His little girl.
You’re 19 weeks at this point.
You’ve felt kicks, connected. Know patterns.
You’ve bought the cutest little bathing suit to match this summer.
Little bloomers and way too big bows.
You’ve got sunflower swaddles and a name sign on order.
The wait was painful… but not nearly as painful as what was coming.
A week later, you got a phone call.
As suspected, your little girl has a rare genetic disorder.
And likely, a heart defect as well.
The nurse says…
You’re quite far a long to get this news.
She says, “you have some difficult decisions to make”
Your hearts, shattered. Knowing what this meant.
Knowing what you are being asked to do.
How does a parent do this?
How can we make this decision?
Can someone else make it for us?
Is this wrong?
Are there more tests?
This can’t be right?
Whats wrong with me?
Whats wrong with him?
Whats wrong with us?
Why did this happen?
This can’t be happening…..
But it is. Its real.
You spend your nights googling and researching.
Trying to find a way out.
A loop hole.
Should we just try and see?
Is that selfish?
Is it wrong ?
There was never a right answer.
There was never an easy answer.
You make the decision, no parent ever should have to.
The doctors agree with you.
Explain the logic to your decision.
Reassure you this is the best decision for you and your baby girl.
They tell you, they’re sorry you have to wait two more weeks until they can do this.
That you have to continue to create a life for two more weeks.
That you have to feel her kicks for two more weeks.
That you have to keep wondering, waiting, and living this nightmare…
For two more weeks.
And, the only day they can schedule you… to say goodbye to your daughter,
Is the day before your sons 2nd birthday.
You spend two weeks agonizing over what is happening.
That you’re still creating a life you had to choose to end.
That you literally, had to make the decision … to have your child die.
Mentally and emotionally you disconnect from those around you.
family, friends, yourself….
You keep trying to convince yourself its not your fault,
That you did not in fact manifest this situation
That you did and do love your little girl
That you’re sorry
You tell your family.
You hear and watch their heartbreak.
You watch as they realize they too, have to say goodbye to their granddaughter or niece.
Your son rubs your belly and says “mama, baby” …
You have tears in your eyes as you say, yes baby. There is.
Knowing that soon there won’t be.
How do you explain that?
Will he understand?
Will he understand now? One day?
That he did have a little sister, but she had to die.
That mommy and daddy had to make that decision?
The days have come. As you head off to the hospital 3 hours away from home.
Knowing that you are leaving home pregnant, but when you come home you won’t be.
And you’re not returning with your baby.
You get there for your grief counselling.
The woman is nice, welcoming, soft.
She goes through things, explaining fully.
You’re hearing what she’s saying, but everything seems blurry.
Nothing seems real.
As she asks you…
Will you have your daughter buried? Or will you have her cremated?
No one can prepare you for this. No one.
You dont know what to say….. She’s a baby. You shouldn’t have answer that question.
Would you like her footprints?
You just stare, and tears stream down your face.
No. You dont.
You want her. You want her feet. You want to touch them.
To feel them. To smell them. To see them and hold them.
You dont want just her prints.
But yes, please. Give them to us. It's all we will ever get.
She explains to you what’s going to happen.
Imagining these things won’t be easy. It will be impossible… but, just close your eyes and try.
You and your husband are walking down the hallways of the hospital, of course in the
Labour and delivery area, seeing pregnant women with big round bellies
Little babies just born
Parents beaming, leaving with their new little ones.
You smile, with puffy eyes and tears strolling, as they walk by.
Theres no point in trying to contain your emotion.
You go into your next appointment…
The lovely female doctor explains what they’ll do today,
To prepare you for tomorrow.
One of the worst days you’ll ever experience in your life.
They try. They try hard to make you feel comfortable and
At ease… nothing works.
You lay on the table, with your husband holding your hand so tightly.
You both have tears quietly rolling down your face.
They start by sticking these hard sticks up your vagina.
They’re meant to cause dilation.
They’re painful going in, but you also feel sort of numb, mentally…
You know that this is the beginning of the end.
Whatever thought you had of stopping it, is gone now.
You try to absorb what’s happening, but it seems impossible.
You’re told to go to the hotel, and to expect some cramping and bleeding.
Normal. At 6 months pregnant.
No it's not.
You should be planning maternity photos.
Picking out outfits.
Finishing a pineapple and flamingo bedroom.
Not getting sticks shoved up me to help them take your baby.
You’re told to come back a few hours later, to get more inserted.
Seeing as you are, so far along that is, you need more.
They let you know that when you come back you’ll have a second procedure.
The procedure includes having an extremely long needle inserted into your abdomen.
Into the amniotic fluid.
Will stop your daughters heartbeat.
You know what the process is.
You’ve read about it.
You’ve been told about it.
But again, the words hit you like a tidal wave.
Again your mind goes crazy.
This can’t be real.
How can I run?
Can I run?
How can I remove these sticks now?
Can I skip coming back?
Can they double triple quadruple check to make sure this is what they have to do?
We chose this.
How could we have chosen this.
We’re so sorry.
So, so sorry.
You go back to the hospital…
You go into the room. They stick more hard sticks in your vagina.
it's excruciatingly painful. But you don't care anymore.
They get the needle.
You l look at your husband and just cry. Uncontrollably.
He too, just sobs and grips your hands.
The nurses, four of them. Look at you.
Your body laying there exposed.
Your tears, you shaking with fear.
They insert the needles and say, we’re so sorry.
They clear the room.
You clean yourself up.
You wipe your tears.
You leave the hospital and go to your hotel.
You rub your belly and just keep saying Im sorry, because what else do you have to say?
You lay there in the bed watching mindless TV, feeling sick…
You finally fall asleep, knowing what tomorrow brings.
You wake up at 6am, and make your way back to the hospital.
Your ‘surgery’ is at 10:00am.
You didn't know you’d be in labour and delivery again.
They give you some medication to spur on labour.
You didn't know that part either.
An hour later, your labour starts.
You hear new babies cry their first cry.
You hear moms bawling with joy.
As you scream and clutch your husbands hand as you know yours is inside you.
But not alive.
That she’s about to be born.
You sit there through the contractions, looking for a nurse … begging for someone to knock you the fuck out.
Please just end this.
Put an end to this.
You wish for the first time that you were deaf and blind.
They finally take you…
The surgery room is full of about 8 doctors.
All kind, sweet, soft and supportive.
The female doctor apologizes again.
Tells you everything is going to be okay.
Puts a mask on you.
Tells you to count.
You count to 5 and you’re off ….
You wake up again,
In labour and delivery.
You hear babies crying.
You hear families celebrating.
You wish, just for a second… that that was you too.
You just bawl, silently, alone.
Tears just continue flowing, and there is no stopping them.
You know. Your baby is gone.
They took her.
And all you have to go home with
Is her tiny footprints,
On a tiny card.
You didn't get to see her, even for a second.
You didn't get to hold her.
You get home.
Your family greets you, hearts broken, knowing what you have just gone through.
They have no words, just tears.
You love them for it.
Your son is there, eyes bright, innocent, no idea, just happy to see you.
You hug him.
SO, so tight. You never want to let go of the baby you get to hug.
A family member…
It’s not that big a deal
You can just try again
Oh have another one
Good thing you got it ‘early’
People make that choice all the time, its ok
Sound like she wouldn’t have been right anyway, better off
It's just a miscarriage
People lose babies every day…
Just. Try. Again.
Imagine the feelings, the emotions, the memories, the flashbacks, the pain, the misery and the guilt you’d get when someone makes those comments, suggestions or tells you those things.
If you can…