Life after loss

Checking the health of your unborn child in an ultrasound scan is routine during pregnancy, but when you’re told your baby has life-threatening health issues, it’s completely heart breaking. REBECCA W shares her story with Family Times.

My husband and I were so excited to start 2011 by finding out we were expecting our first child. Unfortunately, during our scan at 19 weeks, we discovered our baby had some significant health issues which were likely to be life-threatening. This came as a huge shock, and it felt like our dreams for our family had been shattered. We are so thankful for everyone who supported us over that time, and that we had our Christian faith to carry us through as well. The doctors suggested we terminate as they did not believe she would make it to full term, but instead, we chose to give her a chance and to carry her for as long as we were granted that privilege. It was a very tough pregnancy, but our amazing little girl beat the odds and was born at 38 weeks crying and breathing by herself!

Hannah Grace was beautiful and we bonded with her immediately. However, her doctors told us it was unlikely Hannah would survive her first night, and to prepare to say goodbye. As she snuggled in our arms our world somehow felt like it was complete, and yet falling apart; all at the same time. Again, our little fighter beat the odds though, and we were blessed to have six amazing days to spend with her. We loved her passionately and treasured every single moment we had together.

There are no words to describe the heart-breaking devastation we felt as we held our daughter close while she took her last breaths. But we are thankful that for her whole life, Hannah knew nothing but unconditional love from her family. Even though there was intense emotional pain during that week, the joy and love Hannah brought us definitely overshadowed the pain. There was something so special about our daughter that touched everyone who got to meet her. It was a privilege to be able to carry Hannah to term and have her in our arms for six days; and seven years on, her legacy continues.

We have gone on to have three precious rainbow babies since losing Hannah. Our other children are now aged six, four, and almost two; and although they could never replace the child we lost, they have brought a lot of healing to our hearts. They know all about their older sister in heaven, and she is always included in our family. Hannah is loved and missed by her siblings even though they never got to meet her.

For my husband and I, we’ve had to learn how to parent our three living children while still grieving the child that we lost. Losing Hannah has given us a different perspective on day-to-day parenting challenges, and means we cherish time with our kids even more than we otherwise would have.  It’s tempting to be fearful, anxious, and over protective of them, but God is helping us to have peace as we give them independence. We have had to be intentional in our marriage too, and communicate openly with each other, to ensure that this grief journey draws us closer instead of tearing us apart.

This pain is not something we will ever ‘get over’, but we have learned to move forward one step at a time, and we are so thankful for all four of our precious children.