November 17th is World Prematurity Day. A day when it is observed to raise awareness and concerns of premature babies. In daily life, millions of premature babies born are hoped to survive and be healthy as well like those who aren’t born preterm. While due to advancement in technology, one gets to see many children survive this tough phase there are several who cannot make it too.
For a mother, it isn’t easy to get over a grief when it comes to share regarding her baby or babies. But perhaps time would heals if she allows and also if she would take that step to share with the world.
It is quite some time since this has happened, yet Chitra Prasad chose to talk about it and she hopes it will perhaps connect with many women who might go through the traumatic phase of giving birth to a still born child or having a miscarriage.
She shares with Mums and stories, “After all these years, it seems like a page in my diary but a very important one: An unforgettable event written by life, an event that has had a deep impact on me and changed me forever. I am talking about the loss of my baby to stillbirth. My little one ..in “God’s hands”.
My husband and I had (we still do) a very happy marriage and a beautiful 3 year old daughter. We felt the need for another baby to complete our little family. Soon after I conceived my second child, I quit my job as a software professional in order to devote more time to my daughter as well as take care of my “little one”.
This was a conscious choice I made as I valued family life more than my career.
I felt I could not do justice to both simultaneously. My second pregnancy was as healthy as my first and I had a great time. Our friends threw a grand baby shower party which raised our expectations, happiness and hope even more.
Our lives during those nine months was a breeze, so perfect, calm and peaceful, we experienced bliss. Little did we know this was just ‘the calm before the storm’. God had other plans for us.
On the day of my scheduled delivery date, I went into labour. We rushed to the hospital, with full preparation: baby bag, our phones, camera, camcorder et al. We were checked in into our room by cheerful nurses and I was hooked onto monitors.
The baby heartbeat sensor was placed on my tummy and the monitor display was turned on. The nurse who was happily chatting with us till then had a sudden change of expression on her face. She said she needed to bring in the doctor and left in a hurry.
My husband had been holding my hand all along. Our thoughts were “Very soon, we would be parents to yet another baby! Our wait would soon end and our family would be complete”. Oh! Those moments were so exciting!
My doctor arrived. He began moving the sensor over my tummy, all the while looking at the monitor. The nurse assisted him by guiding me to move to the left and right every now and then. After a few minutes, the doctor paused, looked at me, gently squeezed my palm and said those words, which still echo in my ears, “I am sorry, there is no heartbeat….”
In a split second, our world came crashing down. I could not believe what I had just heard. A series of thoughts rushed through my mind…the loss of movement on the monitor screen was may be because the sensor was faulty, may be the baby was sleeping, may be the doctor made a mistake, may be… I soon fell unconscious.
When I regained consciousness, I felt the oxygen mask on my nose and mouth. I was in a state of shock, not ready to believe what I had just heard. My mind still kept telling me, “the doctor and nurses will apologize for their mistake; I will now hear them tell me that the baby is fine and that our dream of completing our little family had been left untouched”. But no, that was not to be.
I could see my husband’s face, sad and wet with tears but trying hard to console me saying everything will be fine, we shall go home soon and our daughter will be waiting for us. “Sure”, I thought, “but what about the baby she will be so eagerly waiting for?”
I delivered a 9lb baby boy, who was so perfect in every way, and looked just like his elder sister. But my son neither cried nor moved.
He was still and they called him ‘stillborn’. I was holding the lifeless body of my son wrapped into a little bundle. I held him close to me, in my arms, for the first time and the last. My little bundle of joy was forever gone from my life.
Later, my doctor came into my room to check on me. He said he and his team could not figure out what the reason was and termed it an ‘unexplained stillbirth’. I wept uncontrollably. Even in this moment of deep grief, there was some unknown force that gave me the courage to have done this but I am glad I did. I offered to donate the organs of my baby. The doctor greatly appreciated my gesture but said it was a little too late to harvest.
As the baby was lifeless for more than 24 hours (in-utero), the organs were unfit for donation. Soon after we returned from the hospital, I hugged my daughter and cried. My parents were of great help during those trying moments. I slipped into depression as I could not bear the loss. My grief oscillated between anger and rejection.
My mind became insensitive to feelings and I functioned like a robot for a while. It became almost impossible to live with the thought “I am not pregnant anymore but I do not have my baby with me either”. What would I tell my little girl whenever she asked “Why didn’t my brother come home?”
People around me felt I had taken this too deeply. I used to hear some very insensitive remarks/questions like “Don’t worry, you can always have another one”, “End your grief at the earliest”, “Are you feeling sad you lost a boy?”, “Where is the need to cry for something that never even existed?”
But in what way could I tell those people, “NO, you all are wrong”? It does not matter to me whether I lost a boy or a girl. Grief has no expiry date, only time could heal my wounds. My baby did exist: for full 9 months; in my body, in my mind and in my heart. I might not have cradled him in my arms, but I cradled him in my womb. Yes, I might have another child but in what words could I explain to them how my dreams had been shattered, my hope, lost and a part of me had died forever? I always questioned, “Why did God do this to me?”
As a woman, I still don’t have enough words to describe how I lived those days of my life in grief but as a mother who has experienced loss I can now understand the psyche of another grieving mother, better.
‘Time heals all wounds’. As a family, we slowly learned to cope. My husband took on bigger responsibilities at work to keep his mind occupied. Hiding his grief from me, he very patiently comforted and counselled me often. I did not want to go back to work. I started taking music lessons and introduced my daughter to music. We picked up our lives and moved on. Years rolled by. Life somewhat returned to normalcy.
It is said, “God makes you wait to give you the best”. In my case, He definitely did. We were blessed with another beautiful baby girl who has given us great joy and brought back peace into our lives.
Whenever I see my two wonderful girls, so loving and caring, I know God has replied. I have stopped questioning Him. There is a Sanskrit saying “Putra shokam nirantaram”, which means “grief due to the loss of one’s child stays forever”. Sure, this grief will always stay with me; only difference is I have learnt to handle it and learnt so much from it. There is a special place in my heart that ‘my little one’ occupies..forever.
Here is how I would summarize: If you have faced the loss of a child, please do not lose hope. Though it is very hard, trust in the saying
“Everything happens for a reason”. Take your time to bounce back no matter what others say. There may be a lot of unwanted, insensitive advice coming your way from known and unknown sources. Take in only what comforts you. Disregard the rest. Do not bear grudges against anyone. Trust that people are only trying to help you in ways they know best. You have two choices; to become bitter or better. I chose the latter.
As the saying goes, “Life’s best lessons are always learnt under tough situations”. This incident has taught me so much about life and so much more about myself. Having been through the experience, I have now emerged stronger, yet gentler, a little skeptical at every new step but a lot more hopeful and bold to face the curve balls that life throws at us every now and then. I sincerely thank my wonderful family for being extremely supportive during those trying times.
I now believe that my child rests peacefully in God’s hands.
I have healed.”
We thank Chitra for sharing this story with us and wish her and her family the very best in life. We also thank her for having the intention to share to pass on a positive message