Trigger Warning: The following content contains the author’s personal account of pregnancy loss. Reader discretion is advised.
The first 5 months of my pregnancy went by like a dream. The baby was healthy and growing well. The water level inside my sac was perfect. But, alas, little did I know that it wasn’t meant to last. Looking back, the tragedy started on 21st June 2022. I went to work and unexpectedly, started having cramps after returning home. I told my parents and in-laws about it and they lent me their support, assuring me that they’ll accompany me to the doctor. After dinner, the cramps gradually started getting worse, making me panic even more. I picked up my phone and explained to the doctor how I was feeling.
Mums Always Know Something Is Wrong—They Can Feel It In Their Bones
We went over to the hospital immediately and on being examined, the doctor said that my water is leaking from the sack. I didn’t understand what that meant. I had done some reading to assuage my curiosity about this new chapter unfolding in my life. In the process, I got to know that there is no water break that happens at this stage of pregnancy nor are there any water gushes to know that something is unusual.
The reasons behind the sac rupture are still not known in many cases. However, the doctor explained that it might be that my baby had ruptured the sac all by itself while playing as it was a very active foetus. And, in the process, his nails must have ruptured the sac from where the water started slowly leaking out.
So, that night my doctor made me lie down on a bed where my head was at a lower level than the rest of my body. He informed me that the water level in the sac will determine the future of my baby. After a scan, he informed me that there was no water left in the sac. At this point, I could clearly feel the movement of my baby; it was so much more pronounced. My doctor said we needed to wait and watch, hoping that the foetus would develop the water to surround itself and protect himself/herself from infection. This was rare, but really our only choice, the doctor said.
So, the team of doctors started exploring water infusion as a probable choice of treatment to get to the root of my baby’s present condition and solve it from the core. My family also got in touch with some other doctors to seek other expert opinions.
At this juncture, my doctor needed me to take another medical test to evaluate the presence of an infection in my body because of the fluid. I was prescribed blood tests at the hospital and, unfortunately, was diagnosed with an infection caused due to the leaking of the fluid.
My team of doctors decided to rule out water transfusion as a prospective treatment because, firstly, there are not many places in India where this is undertaken and, secondly, the chances of the procedure being a success are slender. Undertaking the test is generally recommended only when the medical experts involved are sure that there is no other perforation in the sac. In case there is, the water being fed into the sac through the course of the treatment will immediately get drained out through other perforation(s).
By this time, the infection in my body had started spreading and my team of doctors broke the news that it wouldn’t be prudent or safe for me to go ahead with the pregnancy. Because if I do decide to stay with it, the infection is likely to spread to other parts of my body like the uterus, which will be life-threatening for me. So, it was time to take the tough call about life and death – should I choose myself over my baby and opt for a second lease on life or should I give the life growing inside me more precedence over my own? I couldn’t take the call. I wanted to save my baby, and my parents wanted to save theirs. What could be worse? The doctors recommended they save me because I can conceive again in the future.
…And I Lost Him
I believe my baby decided his own fate. The very next day, on 22nd June, I started experiencing cramps again at around 11 pm. Later I was told that the nagging pain and discomfort that I was calling cramps was actually labour pain, starting right from the night of 21st June. I could feel my baby pushing its way out. There was no water at this juncture because none of it was left in the sac anymore. I started dilating!
Emotions overpower me every time I’m faced with the thought that my baby decided to give up on his life so that I can live on. That fateful night, he came out of me all by himself. I noticed it was a boy and he was so little at just about half of my arm’s length. The sight of him brought a smile to my face, although he wasn’t breathing. I learned that a baby is able to breathe on its own outside the womb only when it is more than 28 weeks, which is 7 months. Even if a baby is born prematurely at 7 months, he/she can be kept in an incubator as life support and to augment its natural breathing. Mine hadn’t reached that stage yet we were at 21 weeks. Therefore, even an incubator wouldn’t give him the hope of life.
When I Shared My Miscarriage Story, Many Women Known To Me Shared Theirs, Too
When I decided to break the news about the loss of my baby to my friends and family, I got to know that miscarriages are so commonplace—something I had no idea about. And yet it continues to be such a hushed-up subject. Because it is never talked about as much as it should be. It is beyond my understanding to grasp the reason behind this topic still being considered taboo. It is only when you take the initiative to talk about your personal loss do others feel comfortable with opening up to you about similar experiences. That came as a shock to me.
There are also innumerable myths and misconceptions about miscarriages. It is popularly believed that it can happen only till the third month of pregnancy, which is so not true. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy. There are also incidents of stillborn babies where the mother has carried them right through to term, the whole 9 months. I wish that women around me had been more open and honest about their miscarriages—I wouldn’t have felt so alone.
Luckily, my husband was there for me in every possible way. And this is so important, you know. Only you and your partner will understand how you both are feeling. Everyone else can sympathise and empathise, but they can never imagine or experience the pain you’re going through unless they have been through a miscarriage themselves.
3 Pregnancy Memories I Still Carry With Me
Going back to the days before the pregnancy, my husband Abhishek and I had never planned for it. It came as a surprise and left as a surprise too. Reminiscing the day when I had an appointment for an ultrasound – the day I was to see the growing baby inside me for the first time on the sonography screen, Abhishek had accompanied me. The screen showed us a unique and hilarious visual. The foetus was in a lying position with one of its legs over the other – a picture-perfect scene of royalty at rest. Abhishek had exclaimed, “Yeh toh raja jaisa soya hua hai!”.
There’s another memory that I hold very dear to me. Before coming to it, let me tell you that I believed my baby was growing much faster than his age. It’s only at the end of your 6th month of pregnancy, especially when it’s your first pregnancy, that the baby shows signs of movement. But, in my case, I felt the first kick of the baby during my 4th month. I remember that he kicked me thrice. I had ignored it then because I used to read up a lot and, in the process, I had started assuming things. So, I stopped reading so extensively. It once happened that I’d called Abhishek for lunch and asked him to touch my belly. The baby decided to kick right at that moment and he felt it in his hands. He jumped with joy – a joy that knew no bounds. Out of sheer excitement to share the happiness with his mother, he called her over too. But the baby didn’t kick again. It is this memory – the experience that the baby decided to share only with his parents – that remains priceless.
The third memory that is very precious to me happened during the anomaly scan. At this stage, babies are expected to be in a certain position. But my baby wasn’t. He was upside down, rotating, and hiding his hands. Then, the doctor smiled and said, “You really have a notorious baby”. I looked at him and he turned the screen towards me. I saw that he was fully formed, his tongue was out, and he was licking and sucking his thumb. As I’ve mentioned before, he was too fast for his age. This was the most miraculous memory that I’ve ever seen in my life – the little life growing inside me. When I saw him next, it was the day of my delivery.
Preparing For An Unforeseen Mishap
I strongly believe that everyone who has gone through the harrowing experience of losing a child before it is born should come forward and talk about it. That will mentally prepare other women faced with a similar experience to confront and overcome the overwhelming emotions that they are bound to go through during their moments of turmoil.
Another thing I’d like to emphasise is the importance of discussing about the physical tribulations and mental trauma of losing a child to a stillborn or miscarriage so that these facts seep deep into the sub-conscience of couples in your family and friends circle. Not just the difficult experiences, but the good ones as well. You will probably question the need of thinking about such challenging situations and preparing yourself for them because there’s no surety that it’ll happen to you too. But think about it this way. You do invest in LIC Life Insurance Plans. Do you do so after being completely aware of what your future holds? You do so to financially secure yourself and your family against unforeseen mishaps, right? The same logic should be applied when it comes to protecting yourself from the physical and mental upheavals of pregnancy loss as well, should it arise in the future.
Let Your Partner & Yourself Heal Together After A Mishap
Remember when a pregnancy loss is your reality, a couple only has each other to fall back on. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be there with and for one another through this dark phase of your lives, helping each other heal the wounds. No one else would be able to perceive the deep-seated implications of the loss on your mind, soul, and body quite as much as you would as a couple. It will possibly feel like a lonely, hopeless journey through a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it, but you have your partner as your comfort.
My Note To Couples Who’ve Just Undergone A Miscarriage Or A Stillbirth
The only objective of sharing my experience is to spread awareness about miscarriages being far more common than what people might believe. I expect to reach out to those in need of solace during these tough times. Both Abhishek and I want to share more about our learnings and experiences with you gradually. We hope to discuss more about this difficult subject because there are some harsh realities in life that we need to be prepared for. To those enduring the aftermath of a miscarriage or stillbirth, I would like to reach out to them and tell them to hang on as a friendly piece of advice because there’s far more to life than what you now believe.
Watch Sharil Mary Alex talk about her experience of losing a child at the 5-month mark of pregnancy here:
Every year, 15th October is recognised as Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the unborn children and their mommies.
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