How to Mourn an Unborn Baby
A friendly heads-up before reading: This was difficult to write and could be difficult to read. Everyone mourns differently. Thank you for respecting our way to mourn.
(Even though I make use of the word ‘we’ several times, this post was written from my perspective, which may not reflect Isabelle’s unique perspective and experience.)
After four months of pregnancy, Isabelle and I found out that our little baby girl had Turner Syndrome. This genetic abnormality often causes severe heart and circulation issues, which result in cyst-like cavities containing fluid.
We found out the gender when we received this diagnosis: Turner Syndrome only affects girls.
After the diagnosis, we learned that we had to terminate the pregnancy. Given the dire condition of the baby, this was the only option in our case. The surgical procedure Isabelle undertook was called “dilation and evacuation” (D&E).
Isabelle and I were heartbroken. I am sharing our story because reading about others’ stories (almost exclusively on Facebook) has helped us. Although we are currently “at capacity” for hearing others’ stories of pregnancy challenges, these posts made a difference. My hope is that this post could help someone along the way who goes through a similar experience. Feel free to share this with anyone who might need to see it.
Isabelle and I received support from the people around us. Thank you for your kindness and compassion.
Mourning an Unborn Child
She was a real baby with real sensations. She was developing to become a real person with a soul. This was quite difficult to acknowledge and understand. Not doing so could have made the experience less painful. Personally, I am striving to be truthful and honour what really happened.
These are some of the questions I have asked myself over the last month. Some of them are meant to be answered (eventually), some of them aren’t.
· Does the baby have feelings?
· Is the baby suffering?
· What does the baby want?
· Is the baby still trying to make it?
· What answers could spirituality have to our questions? Why did this happen?
· Did the baby not choose this life with us?
· Why was the baby not healthy? What did we do/not do? What did it do/not do?
· How should we spend our last days with the baby before it passes?
· How can we tell the baby it’s ok to let go?
· Should we remember the baby or should we try to forget it?
Our Last Night with Our Baby
The last few nights before she passed, we played our favorite songs for our baby. These were my most personal and connected experiences with her. I decided to name our baby Mélodie to commemorate this musical moment.
Personally, this was a learning experience regarding grieving and the unique sadness that came from this. I asked myself:
· How can I get better at being sad, instead of my default response of ignoring or suppressing sadness? I got the sense that living my full range of emotions was one of the ways to honour and respect what happened.
· What times during the day do you mourn?
· How long are you allowed to mourn?
· When and how do you cry? For how long? Alone or with someone?
· How do you know when you cry too much? Too little?
· Can people tell if I am crying discreetly at a coffee shop?
· Why does crying take so much concentration?
Supporting a Couple Who Loses a Baby
I appreciate the support, empathy and kind words I have received thus far. Thank you to everyone who reached out to say something. You took a risk and you made a difference.
It has been difficult for my wife and I hear to listen to dozens of other people’s stories of miscarriages or other issues. While it is useful to know that others have been through similar challenges, it can be hard for a unique experience to be heard and honoured in this context.
Writing a Letter and Saying Goodbye
Isabelle and I wrote letters to our baby girl, and we used these as part of a small ceremony we held to say goodbye. This was our effort to get closure so we can move forward with our lives. Speaking with other couples who have lost a baby during pregnancy, we learned that this memory never completely goes away. And it shouldn’t either.
Thank you for reading our story. I hope that this post will be helpful to someone facing a similar challenge.