Every Thursday we share a story of one us. A mum who has faced loss, is healing and knows they are #StillAMum. This is the story of phenomenal mum Rita Wairegi.
- How did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant?
Child loss has happened to me twice. During both pregnancies, I felt excited. Very excited….When the first loss happened, I had two girls already (7yrs & 5yrs) and we were looking forward to having our third and hopefully last baby. Our daughters were overjoyed and could not wait for the baby. The second loss happened 5yrs later with my 4th pregnancy. During this pregnancy I was so scared because of the previous loss.
2. How was the pregnancy?
I suffered terrible morning sickness that lasted all day long. But this was typical with all my pregnancies.
3. Share your story briefly. At what point did you lose the baby?
Our first daughter was unplanned; we were still dating, and the second a very pleasant surprise but our third baby was planned. We were trying for a boy though it really did not matter in the end if we got a boy or girl. It was a difficult pregnancy but I had a lot of love around me. I attended ante natal clinics as scheduled from the start and all through, everything seemed excellent. The night before delivery, I had a very unsettling dream..I was in a delivery room painted all white and there was this lady dressed in white who kept saying “sorry, your baby is dead”. Across the room I could see another woman holding a baby she had just delivered. Her baby was alive. I woke up with a start and in tears and very very scared. It was a Sunday. At church during mass later that day , I realized I had not felt the baby move. I shared with my hubby and we headed to the hospital though he kept re-assuring me that it was just for a checkup or that perhaps baby was ready to “pop” :), that everything would be okay. At the hospital casualty, the doctor , I think she was a trainee, tried listening to baby’s heart beat and said that she thought she could hear it and I should relax my baby was well but to be sure, they did a scan and confirmed that there was no heart beat. I was at 40weeks and I was induced. During labor, I tried to focus on the physical pain just so that I wouldn’t think of this horribly terrible darkness that was crushing down on me. It was like I was in my reliving my dream (nightmare) all over again. After about 5 or 6 hours of intense labor, I delivered a beautiful stillborn baby girl. She weighed 2.8kgs. She had all 10 toes & 10 fingers. It was 2 days to Christmas and the dark cloud finally came down crushing. I have always wondered, what was that dream? Was I been warned?
The next time was 5yrs later…one afternoon when I was at 34 weeks, I woke up from a nap and as soon as I stood up, I felt wetness around my feet. It was a bloody watery mess around where I stood. I ran to the bathroom and realized something horrible must have been happening. I prayed to God that I wouldn’t lose this baby too. We called for help and I was rushed to hospital. I was very lucky because my doctor was within the vicinity of the hospital and was called immediately. After examination, the doctor rushed me to theatre..I delivered a beautiful baby girl via emergency CS. She was scored pretty well at 2.2 kgs and was put in an incubator and sent to the nursery. The doctor later told me I had suffered placenta abruption. (My placenta had suddenly started separating from the uterus prematurely and so baby was not getting enough oxygen) Doctors said we were very lucky because they had caught it in time and all should have been well. However, my little bundle of joy started to turn a little blue that night and was unable to breathe on her own. She was taken to ICU and put on a respirator. When my hubby came visiting early the following morning, he couldn’t find our baby in the nursery. We panicked but they explained what had happened. I went to visit her at the ICU later that day to find her hooked up to machines with pipes coming in & out of her. Specialists had been called in. Her lungs were not fully developed and some other complication of the heart. All we could do was pray she would pull through. She looked so beautiful..like an angel….A day or so later, baby wasn’t doing well. She seemed like she was in pain and had lost the little body fat she had been born with. I could see her little veins through her skin. My heart was breaking…I held her little hand through a small window in the incubator & cried for my baby, my angel ; and prayed that God would heal her.. My mom -bless her heart- called in our priest to come and perform baptism on our baby. The whole family was present. My hubby’s cousin also one of my best friends was Godmother. Our beautiful angel passed away the following day. She was 4 days old. I held her in my arms for the first time and sung her goodbye..
4. How did you feel immediately you were given the news?
The first time, it’s hard to put in words how I felt…I was distraught, I couldn’t believe it. I was in such intense emotional pain I went into shock..I was literally shattered..
The second time I understood what the term “broken heart “meant. I could literally feel the physical pain of my broken heart.
5. Do you feel the medical staff treated you well?
They could have given me a bit of privacy. I shared a labor ward with another woman who went on to deliver a healthy baby…I wanted to die as I heard her baby cry after birth.
My second time I was at a different hospital and the medical staff were awesome. They gave us the privacy we needed to come to terms with our loss. They offered support both physical and spiritual. It was a very different experience compared to the last time.
6. How has been the healing journey?
Difficult. Am not sure healing ever happens. We just come to terms with our losses. Learn to live with it. But the pain is never really gone. Couples also mourn very differently. My husband and I did not know how to reconcile our loss, and we hit a rough patch there for some time. No one ever prepares you for such heart ache. We just kind of find our way with time.
7. What are some nice things have people done to support you?
My mum arranged for baby to be baptized when it seemed things were looking bad. My parents in law made sure our babies were buried in accordance to our faith. I will forever be grateful. My mum came to my house every day for quite a while, just to make sure we were fine. She postponed her travel for months to join my step dad in the US so she could take care of me. My hubby’s cousin would come and make for us a meal every so often. My close friends & family members stopped by just to encourage and be there for us. We had a lot of love all around.
8. What are some hurtful things have people said/done to you?
People really don’t know what to say. What I remember as being most hurtful was when I was told that it was better they died then than we bring them home for them to die later. Hearing that it was God’s will was also hurtful at the time. That I was young I could try again was insensitive. I had lost these beautiful babies and all I wanted was to have them in my arms. Not to be told to tough it out and move on and that I was lucky I already had two others.
9. Did you face any rejection from family after losing your baby?
Thankfully, no. They were all very supportive. I am blessed with a wonderful family
1o. What would you like people to know about child loss? How should society respond?
Child loss is as real as losing any other loved one. You have come to know this little person for as long as you have had them inside you or even a little later after birth. There are all these dreams you have had for your baby that will never be realized. They have been shattered forever. You feel so out of control of everything that is happening and most times blame yourself because you imagine it is something you must have done. All that mums want at that time is for others to be there. People can just be there quietly. Not saying anything until mum is ready to talk about it.. and this time does come, when mum wants to re-live it all..wants to talk about her baby and what dreams she had for that baby..and sometimes it can get obsessive . People need to be patient and understanding. It is encouraging now that we have these forums where mums can share their experiences. For me this happened a long time ago (15 & 20 yrs ago) I had no one to share my feelings with except my hubby who was mourning in his own way as well.
11.Encourage a mum who’s feeling like giving up because of going through child loss.
Do not give up. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to grieve and don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. The pain of losing your baby may never go away. But you will come to terms with it someday. It will become your new normal. Also talk to a trusted one about your feelings. Sharing helps. For me praying also helped. Just asking God to take control. Celebrate your baby. That is the only way you can keep their memory alive. I lit virtual candles for my babies at the shareatlanta website after my second loss. Now when I google my babies names, they lead me to these site and I see their virtual candles burning even today. It gives me such comfort. To me it kind of says “ they were here, they mattered”.