Last October I became Annemiek Dogan pregnant with her second child. She and her husband were overjoyed. It turned out to be a girl again and she saw it all in front of herself; two sisters. Unfortunately things went wrong and Butterfly never was allowed to see the light of day. Annemiek describes her experience in this readerscolumn,
After the holidays we again received an echo: obstetrician found the baby‘s head insufficiently grown. Not necessarily worrying, but something to keep an eye on. Two weeks later we got a check again.
Her head turned out to be a good size now. Which was also special, because how could a head grow so fast? Or did the midwife not measure properly the last time? The moment the obstetrician wanted to close the ultrasound, she saw something on the back of our baby. This wasn’t good. We were forwarded for a medical ultrasound.
Unfortunately, this could only take place half a week later. What a tension. Google is a good friend, until you start looking for possible anomalies. It soon became clear to me that a natural birth and start of life would not be self-evident. And that would be the best scenario.
Oh, what was waiting for us? At the same time, I wanted to keep hope and not let the tension get into my body. Filled with excitement, we were in the waiting room of the hospital when we were called. I lay down on the chair, and the business doctor started the ultrasound. “Yes, I see it already. This isn‘t gonna be okay anymore. No chance of survival.”
in itself nice that it was so clear and we didn’t have to make a choice based on survival probability calculations. We both started crying. The ground fell from under our feet. The doctor suggested a new appointment to discuss the sequel. I wanted to know what I was up to and what was still waiting for me. Waiting another few days while I feel our baby moving in my belly, I didn‘t see sitting there.
Fortunately, we could immediately make an appointment to schedule the birth. The next Sunday would be the time. Two days before, I had to take a pill to start the birth. Gosh, that was weird. There were three tablets in the package. Which one was I supposed to take? I’m gonna take the wrong guy and start giving birth. I don‘t have any medical experience, and I’ve taken at most 2 paracetamol in my life. How did this work?
my husband decided to call the hospital. “My wife needs to take a tablet, and now we‘ve got three, which one’s the right one?” Yes, it has to be one, the nurse explains. We were connected and connected again. Eventually we were instructed to take a photo of the drug strip and send it to us. Right we got the redeeming answer: There is one pill in the strip, the other two are boxes filled with air to protect the pill. We‘re double laughing. Delicious discharge. I take the pill with confidence.
On Sunday morning we were expected in the hospital. I lived that day by minute and tried not to look any further. On the door of our room hinh a piece of paper with the text: “If you want to have your baby on our social media after childbirth, ask a nurse to take a picture.” At that point, I wonder what they’ll say if we want to. We both had to laugh about it.
The midwife and nurses have been very sweet to us, very caring. I was given all the necessary medication, and the contractions started quickly. I experienced the birth of our first daughter Jana as beautiful, among other things by breathing techniques. I applied them again. It was tough. Looking for a blowing baby is different than looking forward to a farewell.
Just when I really couldn‘t and decided to opt for an epidural, I was allowed to squeeze and Butterfly came into the world. As expected, she died immediately at birth. A birth and farewell together. Proud and sad. A smile and a tear. It’s all allowed together. A few days later, we had her cremated on Zorgvlied. We did this together, the two of us. With the pale pink basket we walked over the cemetery. I‘m very glad that we made this choice, it feels good to give her a worthy goodbye.
before we lost our baby, I helped people in mourning, and now I experienced loss myself. Hearing emotions and stories is different than feeling and experiencing yourself. Phrases like: “You’re still young, you can still have so many children” touched me. I experienced myself that people do not know what to do with mourning and loss.
I decided to share my knowledge and experience in a free webinar. Within a few months, this has been followed by 15,000 people. I saw that people like to learn more about mourning, because they themselves are in mourning or because theywant to help others. So beautiful! Over the past few weeks, I‘ve been getting daily messages telling people that they’re so sorry about the holidays. Mourning is often felt extra during Christmas and this year it is extra difficult. When I was running in the middle of November, I got the idea: An OnLive Theater especially for those who experience loss and want to celebrate life.
In a month and a half I developed a professional production together with a great event manager and on December 23rd it was time. Live from Theater Amsterdam, artists (Karin Bloemen, Karsu and Xander de Buisonjé) performed and stories were told (including Remona de Hond). OnLive Event can be viewed via OnLiveTheater.nl. Like-minded people can meet in the associated community, including during the holidays.
I would hand in anything to make Butterfly born healthy after all. And I wouldn‘t have missed this version of myself. It’s all right next to each other. It is time for the world to learn about mourning, because if we also talk about the dark sides of life, we probably see the light better.