Photo credit: Etsystatic.com
It’s hard to believe that 8 years ago today I experienced a grief so deep that I thought I would never recover.
On July 1st 2009 I had an appointment to have my 20 week pregnancy scan. I hadn’t felt any flutters or twinges but I wasn’t too worried as this was my first pregnancy and I didn’t know what to expect. My morning sickness was severe. I couldn’t even hold down water. My husband had to fend for himself when it came to cooking as even the smell of meat had me gagging into my pillow. It was NOT pretty.
So as we made our way to the hospital, I remember getting out of the car and stopping dead in my tracks. Kyle (my husband) asked what the matter was and I told him I didn’t want to take a step further, that there was something wrong. He brushed it off and told me that everything was fine and not to worry. I’m an overthinker, a worrier but even so I couldn’t shift this feeling of uneasiness. In the waiting room I was extremely anxious. And then it was our turn. I lay down on the table, and the sonographer applied the gel and started going over my belly with the transducer trying to find our baby’s heartbeat….except there wasn’t one. I don’t remember crying straight away. I felt numb, and as myself and Kyle were waiting for the doctor to come in I remember saying to him ‘You realise I’m going to have to give birth to her’. He didn’t. I don’t think in that moment he was thinking about that aspect, at all. We were still processing.
The Doctor asked me if I’d like to give birth straight away or hold on to her a little while longer. To be honest, for myself, I couldn’t think of anything worse. Why would I want to hold on to my baby inside my womb? That seemed like a form of emotional torture, but I guess I can see how some women might need that extra bit of time. It just wasn’t for me.
I was booked in to the hospital on July 4th. A day most people remember for American Independence. I started to see it as heartache and bitterness.
I was induced and asked if I’d like any painkillers. I always wanted to go completely natural and handle the pain without medication, but I remember saying to the midwife ‘If I don’t get to take my baby home, then I’d like all the painkillers you can give me’. So they put me on morphine, because at this point it didn’t matter if it could harm my child…
And she was beautiful. This darling little baby that was so tiny she fit right into the palm of my husbands hand. Her tiny little eyelashes and turned up nose will forever be etched into my memory. I couldn’t cry, and I thought something was wrong with me, but I know now it had a lot to do with the morphine. I was in an ‘out of it’ state.
A couple of weeks later we got the results. She had Turner’s syndrome. A genetic disorder that affects 1 in 2000 baby girls. Only females are affected. Its a disorder in which the baby is born with only one X sex chromosome instead of the usual two. Most babies affected don’t usually survive birth. We named her Star. I think it’s very fitting.
For days, weeks, months I struggled to understand why this had happened. I questioned everything I had done to deserve this. I blamed myself, started thinking back of what I might have eaten, what precautions about pregnancy I hadn’t taken. And all it did was torment me even more. It took a very long time for me to deal with it. I’ve had 2 babies since then, and although I couldn’t really enjoy my pregnancies until after the 20 week periods, they are healthy and happy children. We talk about their ‘little’ sister all the time, and Hayden, my almost 7 year old is especially aware of her. She says to me quite often ‘Mummy, you’re so lucky that you have 3 children’. That in itself brings me peace. I know Star lives on in Hayden. And that helps tremendously. Knowing that she’ll always be apart of us and never ever forgotten. And you know what, I am lucky. Star has definitely helped shape me into the woman I am, and the mother that I want to be. Grief has a funny way of doing that.