No mother ever thinks of losing her child, with the exception of the first delicate three months of pregnancy. Once my first trimester was over, I was more than happy to announce – to those who asked – that I was indeed pregnant, and not just sporting some extra weight around my belly. Life was great. I married the love of my life, we had just moved into our own place and we were expecting our first-born son.
“1 in 4”, “October 15th“, “miscarriages”, “stillbirths”, “infant loss” – these are statistics and terms that I had never heard of or thought much about, and truths that I tried to keep out of my head a year ago but am now so acutely aware of. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or neonatal death; October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day in some countries; and the loss of my baby less than 24 hours after he was born became very real to me.
I had a wonderful time throughout my pregnancy, save for the normal discomforts that growing a little person brings, and gave birth to my son via C-section as he was just about to enter his 38th week, as was advised by my doctor. He came out a little on the small side, but with a healthy set of lungs, perfect toes, fingers and the cutest chubby cheeks. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and leg, which was cause for the doctor’s concern as well as his slightly early arrival.
My husband and I were overjoyed nonetheless, to finally meet the new addition to our family. Little did we know that the very next day he would no longer be in our arms, due to causes that none of us could have foreseen.
It is one of the hardest things in the world, to be so happy one minute, telling your baby that everything was going to be okay, and having your whole life change as the journey of parenthood begins – to holding your child when there’s no life left in his body, and laying him to rest when he should have been brought home from the hospital. I went from researching about baby care and child development to looking for others who have gone through similar experiences, or searching for articles that might help to make sense of it all.
Life after loss is different, to say the least. I am now afraid of being a scary reminder to other moms-to-be, and also one that reminds parents to hold on tighter to their children at times when being a parent gets tough. I understand how pregnancy and infant loss is somewhat of a taboo in our society, but in this day and age when its occurrence is more rare than before (thanks to medical advancements) it still needs to be voiced out.
Many parents face this loss and grief but almost all of them feel alone in their new chapter of life. There is a whole new normal to adjust to, a room full of baby things that needs to be put away, family that needs taking care of, jobs to go back to and life that needs to go on, on top of having to deal with well-meaning people who occasionally say hurtful things without knowing the weight of their words.
Every day is a brave new adjustment, and there is no time frame for a person to grieve for their child. If you know of a family member or friend who has experienced the loss of their child through miscarriage, stillbirth or otherwise, let them know that they are remembered and loved today, on a date that might not have meant much before.
And if you have experienced the loss of your child, know that you are not alone in your struggle. Always tell it like it is and don’t be afraid of what other people might think. Your child is remembered, and so very loved.
Sarah Haniza (not real name) is working and living in KL.
Illustration by Lyn Ong.