15 Oct Addressing pregnancy loss and neonatal death
Pregnancy and the birth of a baby are undoubtedly one of the most exciting times of life. Moments full of plans, hope, concern, joy, etc. That is why no one is prepared to receive terrible news.
At Fertty International, we understand that the pain of losing a baby, whether during pregnancy or as a newborn, is undeniable, it’s internal grief that families suffer and that we cannot ignore.
Depending on the circumstances of the loss, going through the process again may be filled with fears and doubts that the same situation will happen again.
There are even situations in which the patients themselves have no desire to become emotionally involved with the new baby for fear of the situation repeating itself and spend their pregnancy blocked without being able to connect with their child.
At these times, the accompaniment of the immediate environment seems fundamental. Showing full support in states of discouragement requires special care.
There are situations in which, with the best of intentions, we cannot avoid comments that bring back memories of the loss, creating a more significant emotional toll. We must not forget that the memories or painful experience suffered is something that cannot be explained if it has not been lived in the first person.
In these cases, emotional support is essential, both during the process following the loss and when facing the search for pregnancy again.
During all this time, a whole rollercoaster of moods is produced. Many emotions must be managed and channelled in the best possible way, and this is not always possible without professional help.
How do you cope with pregnancy loss and neonatal death?
There is a saying related to grieving and loss: when someone loses her/his father or mother they call orphans when a husband or wife loses their partner they got widow/widower, but when a mother/father loses their children, there is no name for that, and it’s because the pain of losing that child is unbearable.
“And I can tell you because I’ve been there and that loss is something I will carry for the rest of my life.”, Monica Bivas says.
October is the month of pregnancy and infant loss, and no matter how far a woman is in her gestation when this pregnancy is lost, it can be a miscarriage of few weeks or a stillbirth baby. I had both of them, and I thought I could not continue living because that pain has no name.
My name is Monica Bivas, I am a Stillbirth mom, and IVF Warrior and also an IVF Fertility Coach and Mentor. On October 10, 2010, (I was going through my third IVF Cycle) I was 39 weeks when my baby girl Isabelle stopped to move in my womb and died from a blood clot in the umbilical cord. I had to go and deliver my dead daughter to the hospital. Everything went wrong, what it supposed to be a trip to the hospital in which I will come back home with a baby in my arms ready to feed with breast milk, and long sleepless nights became a nightmare I will never wish anyone in this life.
Yes, my body was ready to feed a baby, and my milk was not stopping to drip. My sleepless nights were that way not because the cry of my baby was waking me up, but because I was waking up crying from her absence. I could not bear the feeling and the reality of seeing that empty crib next to our bed. I was wishing that all that I was living those moments was a nightmare in which I would wake up soon and realize it was that: “a bad dream”.
Sadly, it was real, and somehow, I had to face it, and find a way to continue living without my baby-daughter. I had to find a way to love with that pain, missing all her birthdays, holidays, cries, coos, first roll, first walk, the first day of school, among others, every moment that did not belong to me but G-d.
I was in denial, I did not want to live, and that is the raw truth. Still, at the same time, I had my husband, my daughter Eliyah, my stepdaughter Daniella and my mom, reminding me that somehow I must realize that they need me back, that Isabelle wouldn’t want mom to be lost and in continues pain, that will affect them and make them sad too. So slowly I started to cope with what happened, there is no book on how to do it, some couples need therapy, some heal themselves supporting each other, some have their loved ones around until time heals, but that scar will always be there.
What I did to be where I am now? Well, it is a long process, not an easy one, it is painful, but when we are aware of this, we are starting to take those small steps to heal and recover, even if at that moment we don’t even notice we are doing it. It is normal to feel defeated, guilty, thinking we did something wrong. Again, it is a part of the process, and each of these feelings is a step to heal. We do not recognize our inner strength and patience and perseverance until we lose someone we love (I learn this from my beautiful friend Melo Garcia who went through the same pain).
Do not deny what you feel; you are allowed to feel what you feel, that is grieving, and when we suffer, we are on the way to recover, remember that. As I mentioned, the pain is there, and you will always have that scar in your soul and heart, but you will make it to rise each day, it doesn’t mean you will get over, but you will live with it, which makes the difference. My stillbirth and my miscarriage (which was my four cycles of IVF) at seven weeks helped me to redefine my goals and visions in life. That pain I went through is now the purpose I have to help others walking the path of infertility, grieving and loss. My daughter is my guide, my light of the purpose I walk today.
I leave you with a beautiful reminder from my friend Melo Garcia: “The moment I realized how long the rest of my life is going to feel without you, is the moment I knew I’d miss you and need you all the rest of my days, EVERYTHING I DO IS IN HONOR OF YOU”. And, from my side, I add: “BECAUSE YOU ARE THAT LIGHT AND ENERGY THAT KEEP ME GOING.”