We are told that one of the stages in the grieving process is acceptance. When I heard that, my first thought was “how can anyone think that we could accept the death of our child? I will never reach that stage”….
This time four years ago, I was expecting my long-awaited first-born – a baby boy that had grown nicely and was very lively and active. I couldn’t wait to see him!
It was a beautiful Thursday, one week and a day after the due date, when I went to my scheduled check-up at the prenatal clinic. I walked down to the prenatal clinic with a light step; it was a sunny day, I was feeling great and I would find out when I’d be seeing our son for the first time as we were supposed to talk about when they would induce my labor.
The check-up was brisk and I was advised to contact Kätilöopisto on Monday if the labor hasn’t started by then. Almost as an afterthought, the nurse checked my baby’s heartbeat. She couldn’t find one. Not to worry, she said, and went to get a more experienced nurse to help her. This one kept checking. Both of them looked very solemn. I felt tears coming into my eyes. The nurses stayed calm and told me to go to Kätilöopisto because “they have more sensitive equipment there”. Me and my partner drove to Kätilöopisto together. I begged my son to give me his familiar kick, I pleaded him to give me a sign that he was, indeed, still alive. Those moments walking up to the ward and waiting for the midwife to come and meet us were surreal. She couldn’t find the heartbeat, either, so she got a doctor to check it. With the doctor’s words started the nightmare, the lifelong journey as the parents of an angel boy.
We were treated beautifully at Kätilöopisto; we could see our son as often as we wished and our family and friends could come and see us and our son. What’s more, we didn’t have to stay in the ward with other moms and their newborn babies. They would have their babies in their rooms and happy smiles on their faces. I would go down to the basement, to the little chapel, to see my lifeless little son. He was so beautiful, looked so peaceful, had the peachy cheeks of any little baby. Just one thing was wrong, so very wrong; he was not breathing. I would never see his eyes, see him smile or comfort him when he is crying, watch him grow. How was it possible that my motherhood had taken a turn like this?
My survival mechanism in the first few weeks was breathing in and breathing out. I still think that’s how you survive, not because you are strong but because you have no choice. And I cried and I talked! That was how I went through the first weeks of my life after my world had stopped. Fortunately I had wonderful people around me who let me talk and cry to my heart’s content. The Käpy-community and the peer support have been irreplaceable. Three months into our “new life” we got the results of the autopsy; the placenta had just stopped doing its vital job! The doctor said the placenta is supposed to work for nine months and sometimes that’s all it does. Nice! Could this have been detected and the loss prevented? Should I have understood this? Should I have done something differently? These are the questions, I guess, we all have asked ourselves. All these questions, all in vain! No answers – and even if there were answers, nothing would bring back our son.
What will bring happiness to life after you bury your own child? Time will tell. But I know what brings and will bring joy; some of the same things as before, some new things – and the mere fact that you can still feel joy. I still feel the pain, the excruciating pain – but it doesn’t hit unexpectedly, and those moments are followed by better, even good, ones. But you know what, I’ve come to cherish those painful moments! That is, after all, the shape of my motherhood. So, speaking of acceptance; it seems that I’ve learned to accept that this is now part of me and my life. It’s the irony of life that the most beautiful thing in my life is also the saddest, most heart-breaking thing.
Story written by Jutta.
Published in KÄPY-lehti 1/2018.