The ones we lost

There are some things we don’t talk about. Some words we just hush up or just whisper, making sure we’re not overheard. When the topic comes up, we look away, make some excuse, act like we didn’t hear or just change the topic.

An abortion.

A miscarriage.

A termination of pregnancy.

A stillborn child. (I like the other term some people use here – angel child.)

October 15, apparently, is Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance Day. I say apparently because I came to know of it just now. It’s a day for remembering our loss (es), a day to talk about it to show that those going through it are not alone. I wish I’d known this sooner. Why? Because I want to talk about it. Because this here, this blog, is probably the only place I can talk about it. No one at home wants to listen – it’s painful, so we bury it deep along with other unmentionables. We don’t forget, but we don’t remember either.

I lost 3 pregnancies before having my son. The first, at 9 weeks, was a spontaneous miscarriage. 2007. I was pregnant. They even found a heartbeat. But then 2 weeks later there wasn’t one. I got a tablet to expel the pregnancy, a super painful night of cramps and what not..and then it was over. The next morning I cried over the phone to my mom. I was back at work 3 days later.

I lost my second pregnancy at 23 weeks. 2009. It was supposed to have been a regular second trimester scan. But as the radiologist was doing it, I could sense something was off. He wouldn’t make eye contact and when I insisted he tell me what was wrong, he said there were some abnormalities and my doctor would explain it to me and most likely suggest an MToP. Medical termination of pregnancy. He wouldn’t tell me anything further. It was around 8 PM and I remember holding back my tears from the scan centre till the car. I was trying to be strong. I called my Dad from the car because my Mom was alone at home (Dad was traveling) and I didn’t know if she could handle it. I said hello and started sobbing uncontrollably, unable to utter even a single coherent word. My husband took the phone and explained it to Dad. He said they’ll take the next flight out. We went home, sat on our bed and cried. The next day, in the bathroom, I held my stomach and cried again, asking that unborn child to forgive me for what I was going to do and begging God to not let my child feel any pain. We were in the hospital the next day and 36 hours of labor-room-screaming later, it was all done. Not even a scar. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I came home feeling empty and guilty. I screamed at my Dad and husband that we threw our baby in a dustbin and came home. It was a girl.

13 weeks was how long I could hold on to my third pregnancy. 2010. The year my brother got married. I was around a month into the pregnancy at the time of his wedding. But the trauma of the previous one was still on the horizon. So I stayed back with my parents till the first trimester was over. 12th week scan. Rinse and repeat. I was a labor-room pro by now. The wide open hospital gowns didn’t make me feel naked. I couldn’t care less. A few hours of cramps, a D&C under general anesthesia and I was done. Back to work 2 weeks later. A girl. Again.

2012 was a good year. I had my own little miracle – my son. And I’ve bid adieu to this whole pregnancy thing. My body has done enough.

I’m crying as I write this now. It was 5 years ago, the last one. Yes, I have a child now. It should have healed by now, no? No. It never does. Not even time can heal this loss. Know why? Because you have nothing to hold on to and remember. No memories. No photos. Not even a name. Nothing. But that feeling in your gut every time you think of it, like you’re falling down from a height, like all your insides are suspended in mid air and then suddenly there’s a lurch and they all come crashing down – that feeling never goes away. Not in 5 years, not in 50. The first step in the process of healing – grieving – is absent. We don’t get an opportunity to grieve for a child we lost.

Let’s not be like that. Let’s talk. I’ll show you you’re not alone. You show me I’m not. Maybe just this one day. So we can remember the ones we lost. And grieve a little. They’re our children. So what if they weren’t born?

My unborn children showed me how strong I am, how strong I can be if I had to. They put all of my other troubles into perspective. They taught me to cherish what I have, to never take anything for granted. That the miracle of birth is exactly that – a miracle. There are a 100 things that can go wrong, in those 9 months. Sometimes they do. And when they do, we undergo a transformation and come out slightly (if not entirely) different. We won’t always have scars on our bodies, but in our hearts, we do. Once a mother, always a mother. Even if there’s no child.

We don’t have to forget, you know. And we can talk about it if we feel like. I’m listening. And I know you are too.

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17 thoughts on “The ones we lost

  1. As cliched as this sounds, I feel you! I haven’t lost anyone, but I’ve aborted one. No, I didn’t feel a thing except panic then, and hope not to regret it ever. But reading your post made me cry. Because even when there are a dozen people who don’t want children, there are tonnes who want one. Total respect for you, sistah. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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  2. This brought tears in my eyes priya. Thanks for writing up. There are drafts in my mail which I hesitate to post it. Dont know why. I can truely feel this pain. God bless vivian and lots of hugs to you dear. Dont know what else to say.

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  3. You are not alone, Priya. Early last year I lost a child too at about 7 weeks. Nothing prepares you for the loss. Even now as I look at my 10 week old son, I think of what may have been. Yes, I’m eternally grateful for the baby I have now but I do have pangs of longing for the child I never had. A lot of women in my family have lost babies before they have had ones that lived on, and somehow no one really talks about it. There are hints or references now and then but it’s all swept under a carpet, probably to think about in their solitude. I’m glad you spoke about your loss. We are made so much stronger by the losses we have had. Yet, the babies we couldn’t hold leave behind a void all on their own. *hug*

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      • Hey! πŸ™‚ I was wondering who..
        I know what you mean..after I wrote this three of my cousins pinged me and told me their losses too. And I felt so sad that even though we were sisters we couldn’t be there for each other because we never talked about it. 😦

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  4. I have been there – less out of choice, more for the lack of options. Losing the unborn one in the toilet to take care of the born one struggling for life in the ICU – I know the pain and the fear of losing the most precious and even worse “trade offs” of having to choose – cant get more sinister. We all stay strong above our dark days and dark memories that threaten our sanity. But it’s ok to show the wounds and feel some self pity at times. Hugs, girl. You’ve done a lot. Let’s try to heal up the best we can.

    -S

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  5. I wish I had known about this day sooner, too. It would have helped me heal. I lost a little girl once too, one I’d been carrying inside me for 3 months. I thought I had healed, but, apparently, I haven’t. This post made my cry by the bucketloads.

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  6. I had no idea my sister went through all of this.. All I knew was what had happened and the obvious pain that came after.. But reading this post, I realise that was not all of it.. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this pika..
    I’m coming home this week and giving you a hug.. I love you pika..

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