By Gabrielle. Pendant found via Forget Me Not on Etsy.
Oh, goodness. This story left me with such an ache in my heart. Although the writer requested anonymity, I still want to shower her with so much support and hope that it empowers her to truly believe that she is a mom. The bravest, most courageous, kindest mom I could imagine.
And so, wherever you are, K., know that we are with you. A group deep and diverse, from all walks of life, who want nothing more than to hold your hand and give you a squeeze. I hope you find peace.
I don’t often get the chance to tell my birth story. It doesn’t have a happy ending, and I’m too scared of burdening or terrifying others with the details. How I wish there were times I could share the story of my daughter’s short life, although most people wouldn’t even consider it a life at all, I suppose. I wish I could talk about the happy and hilarious parts of my pregnancy, the parts of my labour I am proud of, and the tender and heartbreaking moments shared between my husband and I and our skinny little baby who didn’t have a chance at making it.
I am a midwife, surrounded by other women’s birth stories. I know how important it is to be able to share and delight in – and sometimes grieve – over the tiny details of this life-changing event. None of my clients know I had a daughter this year. They may not have even guessed I was pregnant.
I got pregnant easily and was thrilled. I felt great and was relatively relaxed about the whole thing. After getting to the second trimester, my biggest concern was my husband’s large head and a theoretical C-section. But one Monday morning, just shy of 23 weeks, I woke up feeling a great deal of pressure and a nagging feeling that something was wrong. My husband was out of town, about 2500 km away, but scheduled to fly home that morning. I wrote it off as first time mom nerves since I wasn’t in any pain. I drove to work, but could feel the worry bubbling up into my throat, so I asked my colleague to examine me. She could see my bag of waters pressing through my cervix. Not good…not good.
We immediately went to the hospital. My husband’s plane landed and I had to tell him to come immediately. I shudder to think of what things would have been like without him there. I was sent for an ultrasound and the technician started weeping.
The baby was perfect, she said, but my cervix was open.
Over the course of the day, it became clear that she would be born soon. Too soon to survive, too soon to resuscitate. All I felt was pressure, but none of it was physically painful. For some of the labour, I could still feel her kicking.
Even now I wonder, was she scared?
We don’t know exactly when in the labour that she died. I pushed her out breech with a cord around her neck, and stillborn, weighing one pound and three ounces. She was long and skinny, but she looked like the two of us. I hadn’t even realized how attached I was, and I continue to be surprised at the ache I have for this little creature…and the tears shed and the howls emitted by both of us.
Now I am back at work. I still love my job, and I love catching other women’s babies. But I no longer know how to answer the question, “Do you have kids?”
In some ways, I have learned so much from her birth. I like to think I’m more patient and empathetic. More grateful for the good and the beautiful parts of life. And hoping for another birth story in the future. Maybe one I can share more freely.
I replied to the reader who submitted her story, and told her I would be honored to share her with you. And I just received her response: “The happy addendum is that I’m currently pregnant again (25 weeks) and everything is looking good so far!” Believe me when I tell you, K., that we will all be here waiting for your next birth story!