Mothers who lost their babies: On Grief, Acceptance and Moving On

Shams Rashad an engineer lost her baby Layla Hassan Choucri at 2.5 months of age, one day after coming home from NICU. This experience changed her completely. It affected her husband, as well as my older child, who understands what happened but just not fully.

Here is her story:

It is important to spread awareness on this subject and to break the silence. The subject is taboo and people tend to ignore it as an easy way out. Grieving mothers don’t get help through silence. Grieving mothers want their babies to be remembered and not just forgotten. And there are so many mothers who just follow the norm and do not go through the process of grief so they suffer much more than they should. Apart from grief, parents who have experienced infant loss go through depression of course. You could end up losing some people just because they are insensitive. You feel that you should be treated with special care.

I want close people to keep on remembering my baby, never think that it is weird to mention her name. And also, not to show any signs of “why do you want to remember?” because parents never forget their babies. I want Layla to be mentioned by my family and friends, just like my living kids.

Some things were said by family and friends and it hurt the most. Things like that I am still young and can have more kids, as if I will get a substitute for my angel. That I should stop mentioning the subject altogether, especially on social media. Also that it shows that mentioning my angel gives people the feeling that I am not grateful enough for my living kids. And of course that I should thank God that I have her twin surviving sister, as if they are saying that I am greedy and want two although I have one.

Based on our culture in Egypt, People tend to bury their grief or ignore other people’s grief. It hurts and it should change. But also, comparing with people in support groups abroad, I feel blessed that I have faith in God because this is the only reason I am able to go on with my life.

Laila Badawi, an Architect also lost her angel Mohamed during the 19th week of her pregnancy. Her water broke and the doctor’s advice was to induce labour.
Laila thinks that it is important to stop denying that these babies existed, and to acknowledge that they have a place in our hearts forever. Laila also sees that we need to spread awareness on how to help the parents express their grief in a healthy way.

Here is her story:
In many cases, the parents can suffer from depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. In general, such a loss changes priorities and even personalities. I don’t even remember myself before my loss. It is not easy to find the positive, especially during the experience. It gives you strength to overlook the stupid things in life; to appreciate the small details. Also, it can bring the couple so much closer. This experience literally broke my heart. The sadness is indescribable. Expect your heart to actually ache. You listen to all the condolences but those speak to your mind and don’t reach your heart. They are all theoretical and none of them can make the pain stop. I can’t speak for my family, they never really expressed how they felt about it.

Now that it’s been 3 years, I wish it could become a normal subject. A lot of times I feel like I want to bring it up, but everyone just dismiss it. “Let’s not remember that event,” I’ve been told many times. It’s totally taboo and I hate that. This baby has a name and no one is even interested to know what it was. In my case, which is preterm labour, very few people actually realize that my baby had a name and that it marks his tombstone.

I am currently pregnant with my rainbow baby now (baby that comes after loss) and it’s a completely different experience. You can’t take anything for granted. With previous pregnancies, I planned everything ahead; names, nursery, wardrobe, etc. This time, I just enjoy each day at a time and try to only plan the very necessary stuff, nothing more.

There were things said by family and friends that hurt me like “This baby could have been handicapped.”, “Your situation is better than others.” And “God will make it up for you with another baby.” I know they all mean well but, at the time, I was willing to care for him no matter how sick he was. I know that many people have more difficult situations, but that line made me feel like I didn’t have the right to be sad. And I am sure God would not have put me through this if it wasn’t for the best, but no other baby should – or can – replace my lost child. It’s just mean to think that our children are replaceable. And the most annoying term I hear is “precious baby”. All babies are precious and no one has been able to convince me otherwise.

In the Egyptian culture, Religion makes it both harder and easier. It makes it easier because faith in God is the most important thing that can get you through this. Faith keeps you sane and helps you see the big picture eventually. But it is harder because somehow society condemns you as unreligious or ungrateful if you bring it up or be sad about it, as if you are not accepting God’s will.

This experience has completely changed my character, changed the way I judge people. I no longer feel the need to go out of my way to fit society’s expectations.

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