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  • Writer's pictureBeth Wankiewicz

The Baby Loss Hub - Neonatal death - Mathijs mum

We started trying for our family in 2013 and along the way we have suffered a partial molar pregnancy, two early term miscarriages between 2014-2015 and a full-term loss and liver transplant due to HELLP syndrome in 2016.

It’s a lot to take in. Sometimes I look back over this past 8 years and wonder how we’re still here, together and still hopeful that we’ll welcome a child into our home. We were so naïve when we first started trying, and totally unprepared for what hit us.

So how do you cope when everything seems against you?

For the first three losses, I read everything I could about what had happened. I joined a forum on partial molar pregnancies (unfortunately now inactive), I trawled through site after site learning about possible reasons for what had happened, and how to prevent it in the future. I spoke to friends about how I felt, listened to advice from others who’d lived through the same experiences. Once I had exhausted the research, I just put my head down and waited for the next positive pregnancy test.

Three losses in 18 months was hard to deal with emotionally, we decided to do some genetic testing. It’s important to look at all the reasons the losses could be happening, and this testing (all negative) reassured me that we could get to where we wanted, I was more relaxed after it.

My full term loss was a very traumatic loss. I was in a coma from the time I went for the emergency c-section until 6 days later when I awoke to hear the news that we had lost our son Mathijs and I had received the liver transplant. My son’s funeral was held 3 days after I woke up. Not only had I not been able to meet or hold him, I was also unable to say goodbye as I was too ill. When I first woke from the coma I couldn't lift my hand to my face, sit up, let alone walk. I had to use every ounce of force I had just to get physically better. I decided that I needed to concentrate on getting better so I could go home. I put my physical recovery first, pushing aside the grief to deal with later on.

The battle to survive was tough in the beginning and I know for a fact that the only reason I am where I am today is because of the force of my friends and family pushing me forwards. I would happily have stayed in that hospital bed, they spurred me forward at each and every obstacle. Once home the trauma was amplified, but again I was surrounded by friends who forced me out to walk, listened when I needed to talk, supported me.

My coping methods:

  • Making a memory box containing what little reminders we have for Mathijs (photos of his footprints, his hair, his knitted jumper).

  • Printing a photo book, with photos, texts read at the funeral, pictures of Winnie the Pooh, and my favourite poem (below).

  • Using the foot and hand ink prints taken at the hospital, to make a necklace for me, a keyring and a pendant for my husband.

  • Donating my wedding dress to a charity that creates bedding for babies gone to soon. A UK based charity that does this can be for here

Online forums in English and in French :

Basically any account that gave me information or made me feel less alone in my journey. I also joined a FB group for pregnancy loss (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group – unfortunately not really active any more as the ladies have all moved on and the creator of the group was seriously ill with covid), and connected with ladies who were suffering as much as I was. The understanding and level of support from this group carried me through some very painful months, and I am still connected to a few of them outside of the group.

Consulting a healer (Magnétiseur in French) a couple of years out from our loss. In just three sessions, she helped me find a level of peace I hadn’t known for a fair few years. My heart stopped racing, I could breathe more easily. The sessions were tough and bought up many hidden memories of the birth, but it liberated a lot of my grief and I found that life was easier after the sessions. I loved that I didn’t need to talk during the sessions, my body did the talking for me.

Five years on from losing Mathijs, I have come to realise that time doesn’t heal you as everyone says it does, it just makes things easier to cope with. You learn to live with a heart that has been shattered and that has been pieced back together so many times, and your life carries on “as normal”, but so very differently.The main thing to remember is that there is no ideal way to get through the grief, no fail-safe method of “getting better”. Break it down into achievable steps. In the beginning take each minute as it comes, then each hour, then each day and gradually it becomes more do-able. Don’t expect too much of yourself, and accept that certain events, certain dates are just going to be tough. Smile and laugh without feeling guilty, that’s what your child would want you to do.


Child Of Mine

Precious, tiny, sweet little one

You will always be to me

So perfect, pure, and innocent

Just as you were meant to be.

We dreamed of you and your life

And all that it would be

We waited and longed for you to come

And join our family.

We never had the chance to play,

To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.

We long to hold you, touch you now

And listen to you giggle.

But now you're gone...but yet you're here.

We'll sense you everywhere.

You are our sorrow and our joy.

There's love in every tear.

Just know our love goes deep and strong.

We won’t forget you ever,

The child we had, but never had,

And yet will have forever.

Author : Unknown

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