I am sitting here and I am trying to write the next blog post and I keep deleting everything I write. This will be a tough one and I am wondering how to describe this.
In hindsight a lot of this past experience is a blur for me. However, I clearly remember the pain of losing a child. Something I wished I would have never to go through. An experience I wish no one would have to go through.
When my son was three years old, we decided we would like to try for another baby and when I finally found out I was pregnant, I was over the moon. Because my last pregnancy was very difficult and full of hospital visits, I was hoping to have this time a nice and “normal” experience. This time I was so happy from the first moment on and could not wait to welcome this little person into our life.
From midwife appointment to midwife appointment we saw our baby growing and we saw its little heart beating and everyone around me seemed so convinced everything was fine. For some reason my gut was telling me already early on, that something was not quite right.
I was counting down the weeks to the twelve week mark and this was somehow the magic number I wanted to reach and I was hoping that by that time everything would be fine.
My baby never reached the twelve weeks mark. Her (I just felt it was a girl in the same way I felt it the other times for my son and my daughter) heart stopped beating and she passed away, when I was 11 weeks pregnant.
I was looking at the ultrasound screen and my baby was not moving. I was just lying there. And remember that feeling and I will never forget it. Why was my baby not moving? Within seconds my mind understood what was going on, but my heart needed several more weeks to catch up.
Only minutes later the midwife started telling me about my options and explained to me the next steps. I did not want to hear any of that and just wanted to go home. With both my children. This was so incredible insensitive of her and I am still disappointed about this to this date.
My family and friends were so supportive and understood me or at least they were trying to understand me. I realized only someone, who has been through this, will actually understand your feelings.
The next weeks were difficult, to say the least. I went back to work and I was trying to take care of my son, while still being pregnant with a baby without a heartbeat. I decided to have the baby naturally, in the same way as I planned it from the beginning and let her decide, when it was time.
On July 4, which was also the due date of my daughter exactly one year later, I gave birth to Lilli. I held her for a moment and then we buried her as a family.
I was telling myself that this is part of life and that one in seven pregnancies end in miscarriages and I was trying to be strong. So I went back to work three days later and I was not functioning at all. I did not understand what was going on. All my life I have overcome obstacles, but only grew in resilience and now for the first time in my life I could not cope.
I went home and stayed there for four weeks. The only things I managed to do was eat and sleep. I missed my child so much that it is hard or even impossible to put into words.
My family and friends helped me to get through this. Day by day it was a little bit better and after a couple of week I managed to get back to work. It took some time, but eventually I was “my old self” again. In hindsight I am also grateful, that no one at work put any pressure on me and receiving a condolence card from my post-doc supervisor and his family was the nicest thing. I truly appreciate to this date, the support during this time of my life.
Back at work I decided to share why I was on sick leave and tell my story. Then I realized that the topic miscarriage, especially in academia, is sadly still a taboo topic. Also I have been approached by so many colleagues, students and people at work, who went through something similar or the same without anyone knowing about it (such as miscarriage, stillborn baby, infertility, IVF treatment and so much more). Since then I never ask anyone anymore if they want to get pregnant, have another baby or anything like that. These questions can be very hurtful, when you go through a loss or you are trying to get pregnant for a long time.
A few months later I was pregnant again and my at the time four year old son told me that he knew it would be another baby girl and that her name will also be Lilli. No matter what name we suggested to him, he refused and in 2019 his sister “Lily” was born. We decided to name her after her sister and modified the name a bit. Not for a second did I regret this choice and we could not be more happy.
This whole experience taught me to be more grateful and I am so thankful everyday for my children, our health and little things in life.
by Anna Schueth