October 18th has always been a weird date to me for the last 5 years. Ben and I were originally going to get married on this day, but because of his work schedule, the wedding was eventually changed to December. Since then, I remember October 18th with a strange tinge of significance.
This year, October 18th was given a new meaning when I found out I was pregnant in February.
What made finding out about this pregnancy extra special was finding out on the same date I had found out about being pregnant with Phoebie. I was exhilarated to know that the baby was going to be born in the same month as Phoebie.
Keying the dates into a pregnancy calculator, I found out that my EDD (estimated due date) was going to be, October 18.
The weeks that followed that feel Iike a bit of a blur. I went to my gynae early and during the first scan, he had found some bleeding on the uterus walls, so to help stabilize the pregnancy, I was required weekly hormone jabs, as well as daily pills.
Things were fine and dandy. Week after week, I would go in to the clinic, looking forward to seeing the baby’s heartbeat.
Come week 8 of the pregnancy, my gynae raised a little alarm. He said that the embryo’s growth didn’t seem to be as fast as it should be and that it could be a sign of abnormality. If it continued, it may mean that I would have to terminate pregnancy.
The week after that checkup was horrible. Ben and I, while we were filled with anxiety about the possibility of losing the baby, whom we had named Billie by then, were thinking of things we could do to keep the pregnancy going. We prayed, we asked for prayer from close friends, we were extra careful and I tried not to carry Phoebie as much as I could help it.
Going into the clinic for week 9 was an experience beyond words. When the clinic assistant saw my appointment card, she told me I didn’t have to do my usual urine test. I was honestly rather angry, thinking why she had already written me off like it was already over.
Ben and I were saying our own little prayers while waiting for our turn. Finally, when we saw the gynae and I was scanned, the reality was thrown to us. Billie’s heartbeat had stopped.
My gynae explained to us about evacuating the baby from my womb but both of us were just fighting back our tears.
The baby we had so badly wanted was gone.
Ben and I were given some time to discuss when we wanted to do the procedure and we both had differing thoughts. Ben wanted to wait, believing a miracle could happen but I was already devastated by the fact that there was no more heartbeat in Billie.
By the time we saw the gynae again, we agreed to do the procedure on the same day. I just had to tell my mum so she could look after Phoebie while I was in the hospital.
I was home by night time, no longer pregnant. The hours before, being in the day surgery ward, crying in the operation theatre, clinging on to my tummy, all this I wish I didn’t have any memory of. Billie was gone.
The days after Billie was gone, I wasn’t able to share much about how I felt, not even with my closest friends. I wasn’t able to go for my nephew’s first month party because I couldn’t bear facing what I could have had. I also didn’t want to mingle and answer questions about having a baby.
One week after we lost Billie, we went to the beach and I asked Ben for some time alone. Writing this in the sand was painful. I stood there, watching as waves threatened to wash my writing away, tears streaming down my face. The only reason I went back to the car was because my contact lens had fallen out.
I didn’t know how to talk about my loss. Close friends offered their ears and their shoulders but I just didn’t know what to say. Many nights were only bearable through tears.
I only managed to feel a sense of relief when one day, our Pastor shared in his Sunday message about babies who have been lost. Whether lost during pregnancy or at a young age, these babies are not lost. They are in heaven. Ben said that when our Pastor said that, he heard a little voice saying, “I’m okay, Papa, don’t worry about me.”
Sure, people could debate about the whole religious aspect of whether babies lost are in heaven or not but it isn’t important to us. We are Christians and we believe what our Pastor shared.
That Sunday morning, Ben and I were filled with tears. Sad still definitely, but we now had some answer and we knew the baby we never got to hold in our arms is in the best place possible. There was relief, there was a certain amount of comfort and there was finally some peace in our hearts.
I took a while to open up about my loss because a lot of other stuff happened. I had a health scare, being told that I may have fertility issues, and there were also some things going on at home. It wasn’t until I saw a church counsellor that I was finally able to share about how I truly felt. The devastation, the sense of loss, the idea that Phoebie may not have a sibling, the many many other thoughts on top of all this.
Today could have been the day we carried Billie in our arms. Today could have been the day Phoebie became a big sister.
You were a very much awaited baby, Billie. Very much loved even now.
Sure, we didn’t have you for long and some people may not understand the fuss about losing someone whom we had for only a couple of months, but you mean so much to us. I feel a lump in my throat just thinking about you.
Mama knows you are now happily growing up in heaven. Do you know that is also where your greatgrandfather is?
No other baby that Mama is going to have in future will ever replace you. You will always be the second child I bore, the second one to grow in my womb.
Sure, some people don’t understand why we even named you when we didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl. But Billie is a beautiful name and it is uni-gender, so it didn’t matter to us. And all our children deserve beautiful names. You do too, Billie.
Mama won’t get to see you in a long while but know that you are never forgotten. You are always in my heart, and you are always in Papa’s heart.
Be joyful always, darling. You are forever loved. Missing you dearly!!