Updated: Sep 16, 2020
TRIGGER CONTENT - At most times I place responsibility on a reader /follower of my content to use their own discretion at what they want to consume/ or read , and therefore you will hardly see the words 'trigger warning' in any of my content. Needless to say, I take into account that 'death' as a word on its own will trigger many people at the first instance, and so I intend to talk about the ectopic pregnancy and loss of my baby in way that won't be associated with death, instead I want to bring this to life, because a year on I've learnt that there was more to this tragic day...
“The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran.
They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road.
It is the cemetery.
There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted.
In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential".
This is one of the most poignant, and actually one of the most meaningful quotes I learnt from the late Dr Myles Munroe, who sadly died in a plane crash in November 2014.
I wont be surprised if many of you reading this right now may be wondering,
'What does this have to do with your ectopic pregnancy ?'
I'm hoping by the time you finish reading this it will all make sense...
A year ago today I sat on a hospital bed in a state of shock, whilst everything else around me moved at an immeasurable high speed of chaos. My jewellery down to my nail polish had to be removed, my surgical socks were briskly forced over my aching lower legs, and in a juxtaposition of this hectic and chaotic atmosphere, there sat the most gently spoken registrar on my hospital bed, who talked me through what would happen soon after I would be rushed down to theatre for an operation that would save my life at the expense of terminating the pregnancy and losing the baby who wasn't thriving in my womb.
If you asked me what was said in this conversation I could only tell you a few words I remember:
1) Risk of death, and
2) most importantly;
'Once you have the baby , are you aware of your options and what you have decided to do with the Baby's remains?
Given the fact that this unfortunate situation and impending loss was completely out of my control, at first instance I was surprised that I was even given a choice about what to do with the remains of the baby. Although, we had all of half a minute to sign the registrar's consent forms as the clock ticked away and so did my life, we were very decisive and so much to me and my husband's displeasure, we chose to bury our baby. Our other option was a communal cremation, however we were adamant that a burial organised by ourselves was the most preferable option.
Fast forward in December 2019, after finally being able to collect our baby's remains from the hospital we buried our baby in a communal grave.
A few weeks after this , the grief knocked at my door. triggers through sound, smells and even lighthearted TV shows took my hand and ushered me back to that very day. For the first few months however, my failed attempts to ignore these triggers were signs of PTSD. The nightmares, the intrusive thoughts, the fear, the anxiety , the hopelessness became crippling and being in lockdown where I couldn't hide but had to reacquaint with my thoughts forced me to seek help and therapy.
I noticed that in most of my therapy sessions I regularly questioned the validity of my grief, and whether I had any right to mourn the loss of a baby that barely made it to the second trimester.
As I unpacked those feelings with my therapist, she said something that resonated deeply:
'GRIEF DOESN'T CHANGE YOU, IT REVEALS YOU"
I then realised why I myself was gaslighting my grief... It all stemmed from my personal fears.
In the context of baby loss, if you can relate by experience, you would be familiar with (cue another blog post on, 'What NOT to say'..):
'At least you know you can get pregnant
'At least you have a son
'At least you didn't lose the baby full term'
wait for it ...
'AT LEAST THE PREGNANCY LOSS HAPPENED EARLY'.
This insensitive statement comes in many forms, for an example If I picked up the courage to take about our baby being buried the next question would be,
'How far gone were you' ?
This kind of question gave me a complex, as if there was a qualifying criteria that constituted as a 'proper' loss, it almost felt the same as telling someone your grandparent died, and someone returning their condolences by asking how old they were.
I can never understand why there seems to be an obsession or even a competition on who has suffered greater, or even empty statements as aforementioned that are intended to comfort a bereaved person , but actually do more harm than good.
Through therapy I discovered that in the layers and layers of my fear some of these statements and attitudes towards what I had experienced subsequently brought a fear of my personal grief being seen as 'inadequate/unnecessary/dramatic/unjustified (INSERT HERE_______).
On the contrary, therapy reignited my curiosity to understand the significance and impact of death and grieving a loss.
I now understood that my pain was far deeper than the scars that took me back to the 15th September 2019.
I grieved a life that would add to our family, and add to the noise levels of innocent play in my household.
I grieved the milestone moments and photos that I would capture to later show my teenager who needed to be reminded on what I went through to have them.
I grieved all the appointments and memorable events : the dating scans, the baby shower, the first birthday, the christening ...
I grieved the celebrating the achievements of this child.
- I often wonder what would they have added to this world if they were allowed to stay here with us for much longer?
On the contrary If you would perceive this the way I do, our baby wasn't meant to be on earth for whatever reason, but if I further resonate with the words of Dr Myles Munroe, as highlighted earlier in this post. Our baby fulfilled their potential, because through losing them I confronted my fears through therapy, I've pursued more passion projects and learnt so much more about what I need to do to self-advocate for my wellbeing, and general health. More importantly, I'm continuing to learn about the death which isn't the end, but a transition to a new beginning...