On Losing a Baby and Remembering Her on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

Heartbreaking photo of woman losing her child.
Image credit: Pixabay

One of the local holidays here in the Philipines is Undas ( commonly known by the people as Araw ng mga Patay) and it falls right after Halloween, November 1 and 2. It's the time when we remember our loved ones who have passed on- grandparents, aunts, uncles, our parents, brothers or sisters and even friends who we lost so quickly. We visit their graves at the cemetery, lighting candles, offering
flowers and food as a way of letting them know that they are not forgotten and will continue to live on in our hearts. I also have one loved one that I prepare for during this day- a daughter that passed away too soon. Children are supposed to outlive their parents and parents should never have to bury a child. It's one of the most devastating experiences any parent could face.

Losing Her
I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. On that day, I didn't know what I had done wrong. It started like any other day. I followed the instructions given by my Obstetrician. I took my supplements and vitamins. I had just gone for my prenatal check-up and was given the thumbs-up by my doctor. I slept as much as I could. I even did some exercise as recommended by my physician. I was happy like any other day I was pregnant. But at almost 7 months through my pregnancy, that day...something went terribly wrong.

It started with a fever. It crept up ever so sudden. I sent my physician a text message informing her of my predicament. She instructed me to take some paracetamol and to rest. I did just that. It was early evening, so I decided to just sleep early and hope when I wake that my fever would be gone. My baby was kicking as I prepared myself for bed..if I had only known that she was telling me that something was wrong, I probably would have just went straight to the hospital. Maybe if I had gone earlier then maybe I could have saved her. So many maybe's, if's and but's. I wish I had the power to turn back time, I would have done everything differently just to save her.

I slept and woke early in the morning to relieve myself-my fever was gone and I felt better. But to my dismay, in the bathroom, I saw it: a small smear of blood. And as if on cue, it started-very faint contractions. I rushed to tell my partner and we hurriedly got dressed so we can head to the hospital. We left the house in such a rush, it was as if our house was on fire. En route to the hospital, I took the time to contact my Obstetrician. When she did not reply to my messages nor did she answer my calls, I knew again that something was wrong. And my answer came when we arrived at the emergency room, my Obstetrician was out of town to attend a conference and I was to be referred to another doctor. Just my luck. I'm in premature labor and my doctor is not available. I know it happens but I never thought it would happen to me. Another lesson learned, never say never.

In the beginning, the contractions were faint and were hardly detected by the electronic fetal heart monitoring machine. But, as time went by, the contractions became stronger and longer and more frequent. I tried to draw strength from within, knowing with a dreadful and pining heart that I wouldn't be able to stop the labor. As I quietly endured the pain hoping that it would just cease on its own, I uttered a small prayer that I could keep my baby inside me for a little longer so she would be able to mature and have a chance to live.
Image credit: Pixabay

7 hours into labor, I finally was able to meet the doctor who was referred to me by my Obstetrician. She wasn't pleasant at first. When she saw the distress in my eyes, she apologized for the attitude and politely asked if her attitude be excused. She told me she was having a really rough day ( I wanted to tell her so was I). She also had another delivery and told me that after she was done, she'd rush back and see to me. She instructed me not to push and take the contractions as they came and to breath. She made a quick assessment, instructed the staff to prepare me for delivery, and off she went. I was in severe pain. My tummy felt as if it was being squeezed by an invisible hand.The contractions were close and were longer. With each contraction, with each searing jolt of pain resonating throughout my body  I took each one as if it were my penance because I felt I was to blame. Tears would start to well up in my eyes after each contraction but I swallowed the despair, trying to muster as much courage I could.

After 10 hours of labor, I was crowning. I had undergone an ultrasound to check on my daughter. The weight of child was a big concern for the Obstetrician. My baby was at most 900g. She did point out that she had a strong heart. It was just a shame that she couldn't stay in a bit longer. A resident who stayed by my side the whole entire time assisted in my delivery. She held my hand and gave me some of her strength when I pushed. I finally gave birth via normal delivery to a tiny baby girl who weighed 815g. She was rushed into an incubator and was immediately transferred to the NICU ward while I remained in the delivery room for clean up. The doctor commented that thankfully it was a quick delivery. That the baby is alive but she was concerned about her ability to thrive because she was so small. I had gotten a glimpse of her before she was wheeled out of the delivery, and nodded. Yes, she was such a tiny bundle of joy. But I knew she was a fighter...she fought throughout 10 hours of labor, I prayed that she would continue to fight.

Ellie lived for 30 hours. I just had to believe that she had gone to a better place. I wanted her with me but I knew she was suffering. Although it was hard for me to say goodbye, I did. I silently bade her farewell and thanked her for at least giving me some time to at least see her and touch her. I wallowed in the pain for months, still trying to figure out what I did wrong. It hurt and I blamed myself.


Dealing with the Loss

Everyone is different. Everyone deals with loss in different ways. Although my partner was dealing with the loss himself, he was worried about me. He took me out on dates just to get my mind off things. I really appreciated the gesture. If he were someone else, then maybe it would have taken me longer to heal.
If you need to cry, cry. Let yourself be vulnerable. Allow yourself to grieve. In all honesty, putting up a mask to hide what your feeling doesn't help. Locking up all that pain makes it hurt even more. I cried so much that my eyes were bloodshot. I would cry when I would see a baby on the TV. I would cry as I walked by baby stores. I would just cry... until one day I stopped. My partner noticed and said it was progress. When he said that, I searched within myself- the pain was still there but I was on the way to acceptance.
At the beginning, I didn't want to talk to anyone about it. I felt it was a private matter and I would deal with it myself. I shut out my friends who were only there to help. I just didn't want to rain on their parade. When I had stopped crying, I called a close friend of mine. He was happy that I had called because he was worried. I started talking about what happened and it felt like a heavy load was lifted. Opening up and talking about it helps but do it when you want to and when you are ready. My friend was very understanding but scolded me that I shouldn't have shut them out. A friend is a friend...no matter what. I apologized and thanked him for the gesture. I realized that you should allow your friends to help you, to be there for you. That phone call lasted only 10 minutes but it was enough to make me feel happy.
At the end, as my wounds were healing with time, I had finally reached acceptance. As tragic the loss was, I had come to terms with it and accepted my daughter's death. The sadness is still here but, when I remember her, I remember how happy I was during my pregnancy. I cherish the memories...even if they were so short.

As November 1 and 2 come, I imagine how it would have been if she were alive. I became pregnant again 6 months after giving birth to her and delivered a healthy baby boy. If she had lived, I would think that my house would always be in chaos and that the 2 siblings would always be in each other's hairs. The laughter, the screaming, the constant mess. I wonder what if and I smile at the thought.

Image credit: Pixabay

In loving memory of Ellie...you, baby girl, will always remain in our hearts.


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Comments

  1. Tear-jerker. I could feel the anguish of the author. Such a sad story. Yes, moving on from something like that is very difficult to do.

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  2. I'm a guy and I could feel her pain. Heart-wrenching story. I commend her for opening up.

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  3. Yes, it's really hard to lose a child. Seems like your heart was ripped out of your chest.

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  4. Heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching story...but she had guts. Brave woman. Happy to know she's ok.

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  5. Love the end...she moved forward with love in her heart. Great story. Women and great inner strength.

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  6. Yes...at the end she stood up again after the odds were against her. Thanks for the positive comments.

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  7. Yes, it's the worse thing that any parent could face. That is to lose a child. Would never wish it on someone because I know how it would feel. There's a beautiful angel out there names Ellie. She's looking over you.

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  8. Aw...such a tragedy. Nice to know that the author has healed and has moved forward.

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  9. Thank you for sharing these precious moments with us. You are a lovely mother and I hope you heart heals from the pain and sorrow of losing a beloved child.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so sorry that you went through child loss. I have been there too and it’s so hard! Your Ellie is playing in Heaven with my son Chance. She will always watch over you and your family. Sending you a big virtual hug and love from someone who has been there.

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