An ultrasound of a baby in its mom's stomach

‘Had I known a mere 13 weeks was all I had with this child, I would have said ‘good night and good morning’ more often.’

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“The silent pain.

It’s invisible. How can something that remains to be seen be so painfully real?

It demands to be felt and is a terribly isolating journey all at once.

‘I am sorry but I can’t find a heartbeat’ said the sonographer empathically. Her words felt terribly empty at that point, I had trouble processing it because on the screen right in front of me was a fully formed 13 week child. Not any other child, that was my child. I was in awe of seeing my child again after 5 weeks of not seeing the child since his (he is our little boy) first scan at 8 weeks with a resounding heartbeat.

Yet I knew her words spelt the end. The mister and I intertwined our hands tightly and we cried so hard. The sonographer gave us some time while she grabbed the gynecologist.

‘Just like that’ was all I could muster in between my tears. Those tears of pain and an aching heart. I could imagine people telling me that ‘it’s okay because it’s the 5th and you’ve got 4 other kids’. But I deeply realized that day it didn’t matter how many kids one had, I lost my child, my flesh and blood, I was carrying my child who had lost his heartbeat while inside me. I felt my world crash once again. The sonographer returned and hugged me so tightly, it was what I really needed the most then. I begged her to print the last photo of my child, as I struggled to comprehend how my child can stop being alive in a matter of seconds, my child who was fully formed, all but 7cm yet already spotting features similar to his siblings. His heart had stopped beating just two days prior to the scan. ‘What was I doing when my child’s heartbeat stopped?’

I struggled to digest the news even as I walked out of the room painfully. The sonographer told us that we should go to the front counter to get our payment refunded as it was a viability scan and no longer an Oscar scan. Again, those words got nowhere. As I stepped out of the room, clutching my bump which by then, was carrying my 13 week old child who had died inside me, I felt a part of myself died as well. I won’t lie, it was painful, terribly painful as I walked out of the center filled with happy and healthy pregnant ladies. My eyes couldn’t stop tearing and I could only look down as I proceeded out.

The next few moments were a blur, a sort of unexplainable pain. Every step was painful, I could not look up but down, wetting my shoes with my tears. Yet, crying was the only solace I had.

Sitting outside the doctor’s office watching dizzily happy expecting ladies strolling out of the office with their sonograph pictures was hard. ‘How do I even proceed from there on?’ It was a weird place to be in. Akin to being in an in-between place, feeling the weight of my 13 week child in me yet knowing he was no more.

There were no absolute signs, no bleeding, no cramps whatsoever.

‘Why me’ I asked.

A missed miscarriage was what it was. Where my body still assumes the nature of being pregnant but the baby had ceased life inside. No fetal heart activity was what was written on the report.

The doctor said that she wasn’t expecting this, as she had previously said that I was young so all would be well.

I learnt that day, that being young does not give you the immunity from everything. Because as I had learnt that day, the worst can and will happen. Without any knowing for age whatsoever.

As both sonographer and the doctor had repeatedly emphasized that it was no fault of mine, and it was nature’s way of dealing with an unhealthy pregnancy.

I had trouble understanding that. While the logical part of me understood that, the bigger part of me did not and would not. Because my child was fully formed, with all the markers of abnormalities looking normal, and I could not reconcile with the fact  his heartbeat had stopped only 2 days before the scan.

More than that, my job as his mother was to protect him at all costs. It felt as if my body had betrayed me and him.

I was next presented with options ahead of me. To allow a natural miscarriage which could take weeks on end to happen and even then, it might not be a complete one since the baby was quite big by then. Or alternatively, we could do a medical procedure called evacuation of the uterus where all products of conception are cleared while being under general anaesthesia.

I didn’t like my options at all. I wanted my baby back, but there was no option for that.

I tried to keep my rational self because I knew that was needed and painfully, I made the decision to do the operation. To continue carrying my baby without life until my body finally recognizes it was too hard, I thought.

I was given some time to get things and logistics at home sorted out before heading to the hospital in the evening for the procedure. Tears wouldn’t stop rolling, as I cried so hard in the car ride home.

Many thoughts were on my mind.

But they were mostly regrets.

I apologized profusely to my baby, stroking the bump felt painfully weird.

Admittedly, this child wasn’t part of our plans just yet. We always thought we were done with our youngest little girl. But, we knew a boy would close up the dynamics properly, and it would have been nice for the only boy in our household to have a sparring partner. Yet, it didn’t feel like the right time. Those jubilant feelings of seeing the double lines on the pee stick that most people get? None of that when I saw the two lines. The mister and myself began to talk over the weeks, that if we were to go ahead with having this child now, it would have meant some sacrifices here and there. Having this child kind of threw our plans for the near future off-route. Yet when I first heard the child’s heartbeat, I fell in love with the child. And the mister had reminded me of the hostility that people might have. Because you know, it’s the 5th child, not the first, second or third.

I felt myself slipping into pre-natal depression slowly, sneakily but surely. I could tell no one about this condition and the mister, while presenting nothing but facts to me, was actually pushing me further in a sort of despair. He knew none of it. He knew not that I was crying myself to sleep every night. I was feeling very torn. And alone.

But it came to a point, where I told myself that we would embrace this little blessing of ours, come what may.

This poor child must have suffered along with me as I cried tears of despair.

Had I known that my time with this child would have been so short, I would have said ‘I love you’ more often. Had I known that a mere 13 weeks was all I had with this child, I would have said ‘good night and good morning’ more often. But I didn’t. And it was too late.

Regret was what it was. But there was no way I could atone for it all because my child had died.

The night where I waited for the procedure was the loneliest I have ever felt, I asked the mister to return home; he had work the next day, and I thought, being alone would allow me to process and digest this properly.

I couldn’t stop crying, my pillow was wet from all the tears. I did not want to be separated from my child. I desperately did not want that. The nurse started to induce me shortly after. She forewarned me that painful contraction cramps would come in surges and I could request for pain management should I require it.

True enough, the surges of contraction began to hit, I curled myself in a fetal position and continued crying under the sheets. With every surge of contraction pain, I knew that my body was closer to discharging my baby out. I refused to opt for pain management as I felt the need to go through this process in its raw form. My heart ached even more. Was there even an end to an aching heart? I thought.

The whole process felt meaningless. To face the impending separation from my flesh and blood, the feeling was indescribably painful. A few hours after, the nurse came and said it was time.

Those words stung so badly. As I stared at the hospital ceiling while being pushed to the operating theatre, I cried even harder. There was no way I could remain composed because I was facing the impending separation from my child.

‘I’m sorry my child, sorry for failing to protect you, sorry for all the painful moments that Mommy must have put you through, I love you, please say hello to porpor on my behalf when you see her, run free now my child, till we meet again, Mommy loves you very, very much, good night my child, sleep tight’ was my parting words with him.

I was knocked out soon after. And when I was awake, amidst my grogginess, in between my unstoppable trembling as a result of the general anaesthesia, I felt so terribly empty. My child was gone. My womb felt light yet my heart felt so heavily painful. I cried tears of despair once more at the recovery area.

The separation was real this time around, no amount of crying and regret would bring my child back to me.

Life seemed the same back home, yet I wasn’t the same ever since. I felt terribly broken and my yearning for the child that I had lost was immense. I looked at the kids playing and felt oddly weird. Here we are, being back at square one, but I knew deep down that, there was supposed to be one more child playing together with the kids.

Walking down the same path that I did daily, going through the nitty gritty daily grind of things was tough. Because I was clearly aware of the growing life in me for the 13 weeks I had with him. We did things together, as one. And now, though I am surrounded by my living children, who are thankfully happy and healthy, I felt alone all at once.

Bleeding akin to a normal period, body going through changes slowly transiting from a pregnant state to a non-pregnant state was part of the process, I was told. But nobody told me how painfully tough it was, mentally.

Just a few days back, while being pregnant, my belly button had popped out and a week after, my body finally realised that there was no baby and my belly button popped right back in, along with losing the 13 week bump. It was awfully realistic yet nothing could prepare you for it.

I began to lactate soon after, milk was coming in yet there was no baby to feed. As if that was one last jolt to remind me that my baby had died.

Often times, I yearn to have the older kids turn in earlier, just so, I can secretly huddle myself up under the sheets to let my hearts out and cry. Whenever I was in an enclosed space like the car, tears would inevitably and uncontrollably fall.

Social situations were extremely hard, on one hand, I was supposed to be normal and be okay because nobody knew; but on the other hand, I was struggling so badly because there was this constant nagging pain from missing my child.

One night, I found myself seated on the toilet floor, crying my heart out in the shower, feeling this deep sense of self reproach and regret. I think that helped somewhat. To numb the pain for a bit, for a while.

And through the days of nursing this deep rooted pain of mine, I realised that this journey of losing one’s child in-utero can be such an awfully lonely journey to be in. You grieve over the little bits of here and there, you cry your heart out to what could have been but would never be. This feeling of pain is tremendous yet so understated all at once.

It really does not matter how many children one has, having x-th number of children does not cushion the blow and pain of losing a child. A child is a child, and no parent should face this pain of being separated from their child. No matter the circumstances, no matter the number of children one has. It does not make it any less painful. And it never would be.

I sighted a rainbow on the day I found out that my child had died inside me, was it a sign, I asked. Nobody knows.

If walking down this painful and broken road is what is required, I would take it all in. But never again, do I feel the same.

For I know that, in heaven lies my two beautiful angels, my mom and my sweet child.

Most times, people do not talk about miscarriages as they would with announcing happier news, I.e pregnancy joy. I think mummies who have Miscarried or lost their child in one way or another, need that one outlet to talk about it. That it is ok to talk about it. The stigma behind miscarrying is very real, though not accompanied with the joy that people get with sharing happy news. I do know it would help mommies to know that being the 1 in 4 woman that miscarries, they are not alone walking this painful and off-the-road path.”

An ultrasound image of a baby in a pregnant mom's stomach

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Hong. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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