A Grieving Mother
It is hard to know where I should begin to express to others the story of what happened to us. Particularly when it is linked to an ending which was far from the ending that we had dreamed of, and to be honest, expected. A life and a death—all nestled in my protective womb. This is something no one can truly understand until they face it themselves.
I just hope that those of us who have had to climb the sheer cliff face of this particular choice can find some peace and rest at the top of it. Not that it is something that ends or can be conquered—your child will always be with you in your hearts, and your empty arms will forever ache. For me, it is his scent that lingers. The memory of holding our dear baby boy and breathing in his scent, so similar to our other two children’s scent, but not the same. The event of his birth and finally meeting him was not filled with joy but rather with pain.
At our 20 week scan we found out that our little boy had Posterior Urethral Valves (PUV.) This causes a blockage of the bladder that in turn causes a spectrum of other problems. We were not told much at the time. It was a Friday morning and we had taken both of our other children with us to the scan, having plans to go to a museum afterwards. It was supposed to have been a fun family day out.
In the darkened room we saw our baby’s feet on the ultrasound screen and I said to my kids, “Look – those are the feet that will soon be chasing after you.”
The doctor asked if either my husband or I had kidney disease in our family (we do not). From her tone, we knew that there was something wrong with our baby. She didn’t really know how wrong, and kept saying “sorry” to me “for ruining my day.” I knew at the time that this had a wider implications than just the day being ruined – it was going to impact our lives.
Over the next week, we had additional scans and there were discussions of operations in utero, and also discussions of ending our wanted pregnancy. Then one night I awoke and knew that our child was saying goodbye. I had oligohydramnios, meaning there was not enough amniotic fluid to protect him, nurture him and allow him to develop. That night I realized what had to be done and said my goodbyes to this baby. I could not put a child through what was happening within me. Because there was no fluid around him, his lungs could not develop and his brain was being crushed by my uterus.
We found web sites for parents whose children had PUV. Some went through to full term to hold their baby boy for a few hours. I am sorry; no matter how much I longed to be able to say that I held my son alive, I could not continue to put him through the pain I knew he was in. I think that we all need to understand that we should not judge others for the choices that they have made.
Our baby boy was born on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the hospital where I was born, where my husband was born and our two other children were also born. We were blessed to have an amazing doctor and a caring, compassionate midwife.
Life is moving on. I still find certain things hard and I probably always will. I dreaded going places where people would see me without the happy swell of pregnancy I’d had just a few weeks earlier. To know instead that my womb is empty, all traces of pregnancy gone. Not to mention the signs that others do not see: the postpartum bleeding, the milk in my breasts, together with my aching arms that feel so empty.
I realize the beauty of a certain sculpture now, one that before all this I had not understood. It is a couple in a tight embrace with their hearts showing. Their hearts are joined, but the woman’s heart is being fed upon by a bird. I get it now. understand now that feels.
To those of you that read this: please take care. Please know that others understand. Please be there for others when they need you.
May all of our precious children now be at peace.