Guest post by Lotta Heikkilä (Finland)
I was sure for a long time that I never wanted to have children. When I met my partner he got to hear it even before we were dating. Years went on and slowly I started thinking maybe. We (or I) decided that a baby may come, if s/he will or then not. After 9 months I did the first pregnancy test of my life. I did it really early in the morning, because I was flying to Berlin on that morning and I wanted to know if I can drink or not. My period was a couple of days late and it was never late. The test was positive, and my mind was blurred. Is it good news?! I went to wake up my partner who didn’t even know that I bought the test the previous day. His exact words were “oh no, oh yeah”. So no drinks for me in Berlin.
The pregnancy was quite easy. I didn’t have any morning sickness or any bad pain. I could do sports normally for a long time and walk until the end. In May, we had the 20 week scan and heard that the baby is a girl. I was so happy, because I had wished for the baby to be a girl.
I was due in September. I’m not a big fan of heat, and even though we live in Northern Europe, in Finland, the summer was so hot. I felt like I was boiling. My hands and feet were burning. But mostly I was feeling pretty good. I was sometimes questioning if the baby will ruin my life and will I be able to do the things I love to do. But at the same time I was getting her clothes, stroller, bed, diapers, and blankets, and I knitted her some hats and other clothes.
The due date came and went and I didn’t feel like the baby would come any day soon, but I wasn’t worried. Both me and my sister were born 8 days after our due dates and both of my sister’s children were also born long after their due dates. I was also having so much fun by myself.
On Saturday, 30th September 2018, I met with my old friends. One of them has 3 children, one had her first born that summer and one was due in 4 months. We were having so much fun. It was the last happy day of my life for a long time, but I didn’t know it then. I told my friends that next week the baby will be born, because in Finland they induce the birth at the latest at week 42+0, and in many cases at 41+5.
The next morning I woke up early thinking that I don’t know when I had last felt the baby move. I drank some juice, but still no movement. I wasn’t so worried and told my partner about my thoughts a couple of hours later when he woke up. We decided to have breakfast and then I would call the hospital. The midwife who answered the phone wasn’t too worried either, but said that we should come for a check up.
At the hospital, first a midwife tried to find the heartbeat with a doppler. She didn’t find it. I already knew what had happened, but my partner didn’t. They called a doctor who arrived with an ultrasound machine and she confirmed what I already knew: “I’m sorry, but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.” I don’t know how I kept myself so calm. I remember how I put my arm on my eyes and said in a calm voice, without tears, that this can’t be true. I called my parents and told them that I have very very bad news, that our baby died. I texted so many friends that we aren’t getting a baby, because she died inside me. The first tears came in another room where they did lots of tests on me.
I was induced the next day and our daughter Louna was born the next morning, the 2nd of October. It is maybe a weird thing to say, but even though she was dead, giving birth went really well. We had the most amazing midwives and since I got so many drugs, I wasn’t in pain. She was so beautiful with her dark hair, cute lips and chubby cheeks. She was perfect. We held and kissed her and my parents came and held her as well. Somehow I felt that we needed to hurry; like the grief would go away when we gave her away. And then we gave her away. My sister and her husband came in the evening to say hello and goodbye to her. And that was it.
I still had to stay two more days at the hospital. The weird thing is that the hospital didn’t organize any real therapy, but luckily the midwives always had time for me and my tears. I was crying, thinking that maybe her death was my fault. Maybe I didn’t love her enough. I was just happy that I had so much time for myself. Maybe I ate something that I shouldn’t have. When I was maybe 12 weeks pregnant, I was ice skating and fell down, and maybe something happened there.
Later we found out that there were problems with the placenta. It was working but not quite long enough. How many times I’ve been thinking that ‘what if the birth was induced earlier?’ Such a big ‘what if’. But I could not have done anything differently.
The milk came even though I got the pill. I was bleeding for five weeks. A friend of mine asked me to come to do some serious sport and she couldn’t really understand when I said I couldn’t, because I’m still recovering from a full term pregnancy and birth. I walked everyday and I walked a lot. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. The trees lost their beautiful yellow leaves, and yellow is the colour which represents our daughter to me. And the rain came, but I didn’t mind. Rain and grey was better for my mood.
Nearby lived a lovely woman who was also due in September but their son was born unfortunately already in May and died after one day. We walked together so much. Sometimes we cried, sometimes we laughed. She was my savior. We texted several times every day. With her we brought our babies’ first Christmas presents to charity. Our babies’ ashes are in the same cemetery, so we visited our babes together. She bought them similar candleholders. In our thoughts, our children are running around naked and they are just happy. Our daughter is telling their son how to behave.
Losing a child really sucks. Death is always sad, but losing someone whose life didn’t even begin is hard. The winter was tough. My partner was grieving in his own way, in a less more dramatic way than I was. He was asking me several times, what’s wrong with me and I yelled back that can’t he understand that my (not even ‘our’, but ‘my’) baby died. I did that also in many public places, but I didn’t care that people heard that. But our relationship was luckily strong enough to handle my grief. I went back to university to continue with my studies. It was actually a relief to have a break from my own thoughts. But there were also really difficult things at the university, like pregnant women and one time even a baby on our lecture. I actually went to tell the mother to take her baby away and she did. Later I apologized for my behaviour but I couldn’t be in the same room with a baby. I couldn’t even walk behind a stroller; I had to always run by them.
Only few months later I did a pregnancy test, which was positive. I was at the same time happy and scared. The rainbow pregnancy is really the most difficult thing in my life which I’ve done on purpose. The death of our daughter is of course the hardest thing, but I didn’t do it on purpose.
Our daughter got a living baby brother a year and 10 days after her birth. His purpose isn’t to replace her, but he is a heart healer. I will always be sad that we lost Louna and I will make sure that the little brother will “know” her. We have her pictures at our home. We have planted an apple tree in our vacation home by the lake for her. I tell my new mum friends about her. She has a huge influence on my life and I guess a small influence on many of my friends’ lives.
For a long time I was sad that first I lost some friends due to the death of our daughter and then some due to the birth of the baby brother. But later I understood, that I think that I gained many new friends due to both of my babies. I may have lost some friends for good, but it is alright. I will never say that there is a purpose for the death of my baby girl Louna, but I want her to be proud of her mum. I am a mother of two, one I will raise hopefully for rest of my life and the other only raises me; she is always in my heart.