As with everything in life, we plan ahead, and things appear to be completely fail-safe. But sometimes the unexpected happens, and it throws you a curve ball that irrevocably changes your entire life.
I was born in May 1976, in Pretoria, South Africa, the oldest of four kids. I was a bubbly little girl who spent many afternoons playing with neighborhood friends and our dolls. However, as I grew older, my happy afternoons grew increasingly more difficult. My life was lived in between abuse, leaving it hard to hold my head high. It was like walking in a ghost’s body, alive, yet not at all.
Though, having my first son changed that. I was a 21-year-old single mother, brought back to life by the heartbeat and quiet cooing of a tiny, boyish newborn. I had given breath to a seed of innocence. This alone was enough to shatter the mask of insecurity I’d worn for so long.
I met my husband at the turn of the century with Y2K warnings flaring up everywhere, but those hardly affected me. Although I had a son, my soon-to-be-husband, accepted him as his own. We got married on April 13, 2002. By 2004 we had our second son, and by 2006 our third.
Having three boys isn’t easy, especially when it came to finances, so when I discovered I had yet another bun in the oven it shocked me. It was all so unexpected. I felt tired, more than usual, and for a few days I simply managed until my husband insisted I go see our General Practitioner. The first concern was my blood pressure, which was sky high, but it was something we could manage with medication, what we didn’t expect was when he did an ultrasound, to discover the little bean-like shape in my womb. “Mrs. Meyer, you’re about four weeks pregnant, but your blood pressure is a concern, you may not make it to thirty-two weeks.”
Whether I got to full term wasn’t even an option, the only thing that went through my mind was how would we be able to afford another child?
Weighing up all our options, my husband and I considered abortion. It made sense at the time. For one, my blood pressure was a problem, secondly, we could never afford the antenatal care, and then there was the slight eventuality of day care and schools.
We drove about sixty odd kilometers to the nearest abortion clinic, but as we pulled up to their doors, we both copped out. We couldn’t go through with it; how could we punish an innocent child for our own short comings? So instead, we drove all the way back home.
Funny thing is, although we stressed about finances, it was all working out fine. We saved some money, reworked our budget and by March 11, 2011, everything would be ready to welcome our new baby home.
As the days dragged on, I went about my routine. Every day I took the boys to school, go to work, go home, make supper, do dishes, do homework and get ready for bed. And every day, the routine starts again like a mechanical clock ticking monotonously through time. It’s a routine I had grown so used to. Other than occasional traffic jams, things were pretty much set in motion, and I hardly ever veered off.
Then, the interruption of ALL interruptions happened…
It was February 9, 2001; my son Michael’s 8th birthday was the next day. It was a day like any other, only this time, I had my to-do list for that afternoon in my handbag.
- Go to mom’s and pick up the cupcakes.
- Go to the store and get treats for the class party.
- Make sure the gift is wrapped and ready for the birthday boy
By that evening I was more tired than usual — but what do you expect when you’re 37 weeks pregnant, carrying all that extra weight?
The next morning, we woke up super early. I got Michael’s gift, the single cupcake with the candle, and we all gathered around his bed to sing for him.
My antenatal appointment was at 11 am that same day. Now, I’ve had 3 pregnancies, all normal, no issues, and I really didn’t expect anything different this time around. As I lay on the bed in the Gynecologists’ office, I waited with bated breath. Maybe this time they will be able to see the gender of my baby.
He moved the transducer probe around, pushed at my tummy, and then he lowered his head. The frown on the doctor’s face made my heart stop.
“Mrs. Meyer, I can’t detect a heartbeat.”
Time stood still, and everything slowed down around me. The doctor’s voice became distant and muffled as I tried to process the news. “Are you sure?” I asked with a lump in my throat.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
My survival instinct kicked in. I got off the bed, got dressed and took a few deep breaths then made my way through to his office.
“Would you like me to call your husband?”
“No,” I whispered, “I’ll call him.”
With shaking fingers, I took out my cell phone and dialed my husband’s number. He sounded so excited, also expecting to hear the news and see if they could determine the gender.
Instead, I had to break the news that our baby didn’t make it.
Our world fell apart. I was booked into hospital immediately. Not knowing the time of death, they couldn’t do a cesarean; instead, they tried to induce my labor. I spent the whole weekend in hospital to deliver a dead baby. All the while, waiting, praying, crying, I knew I had to stay strong. I had three other boys and a husband at home, who were all grieving.
Our entire life came to a halt, what would seem like a normal day to others, was now a dull day, with no meaning and no color. As the flowers from friends and family wilted, so did my heart and my hope. Every day became harder and harder as I carried the lifeless body of my unborn child in my womb.
It made no sense. Why was he still in me? Why haven’t I gone into labor? What was this supposed to mean — was God so cruel, that he would make me suffer, not only the loss of my child, but punishing me to walk with the hurt, and anguish that I wish on no mother or father? Was this our punishment for wanting an abortion at first?
Every Thursday for the next three weeks, I would arrive at the hospital so they can try to induce my labor over the weekend. When I wasn’t in hospital, I would be home. I had my other boys, my husband and my life to still live for. I tried telling myself that I will be fine; I clung to the hope that eventually the hurt would be replaced by memories of joy.
I can’t begin to tell you how painful such a loss is. I felt lost and alone. Sometimes, my womb would contract, and hope would rise from the ashes, but it was just my body lying to me. I would lie in bed at night, and stare at the ceiling, with my hands on my stomach, praying for a miracle, that would never come.
I went into autopilot. Day in and day out, I would drive to school to fetch my boys. When they were at school, I made arrangements for the funeral, trying everything to keep myself busy.
On March 1, 2011, I was booked in again, by the next morning, labor started and the gravity of the situation was even more overwhelming than before. By March 2, 2011 at 10:35 AM, our little baby was born. It was another boy, and we named him Duncan.
For an hour, we got to hold him and say our final goodbyes. I will never forget his plump little face and his mop of black hair. He looked so peaceful. And while my heart shattered into a million pieces I had to let him go.
When a woman is pregnant, a part of her soul is intertwined with that little life growing in her womb, and when that little life is taken away too soon, she loses that part of her soul too. How, when you have lost such a large part of your soul, do you even start to live again? It was the question I went to bed with at night, and the one I woke up with in the mornings. I knew, for the sake of my family, I had to pick up all the pieces of my fragmented heart and soul in some way. After all, my sons and my husband were as broken as I was.
What helped me cope was writing. I started writing poems and publishing them on an online platform. My own feelings expressed on black and white, and while exposing my soul to the world, I discovered how many other moms had gone through the same thing. I began to realize I wasn’t alone. Slowly, through the experiences of others, and their recollections of their losses, the healing process started. I allowed myself to cry, not only for little Duncan, but for all the other little angels that left too soon. I allowed myself to grieve, but in that, I also allowed myself to heal.
Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is not easy, and I’ve come to learn that you cannot do it on your own. If I kept it all to myself, I would never have clawed my way out of that pit of despair — so this is my advice: surround yourself with loved ones and people who care and those who can relate to your situation. Give yourself time to grieve, express how you feel in any form, keep a journal, write a poem or sing a song…but whatever you do…never keep it all bottled up inside. The agony and pain will suffocate and rob you of a life worth living.
This is the story of Natasha Meyer
Natasha was born and currently lives in South Africa. Having given birth to three healthy boys, she had all she ever wanted. But when she discovered she was pregnant with her fourth child, her entire world was turned upside down. But despite the looking financial concerns, she pushed through. Unfortunately, during a routine check-up, they discovered her baby’s heart had stopped. She would never see his first smile or hear his first cry.
Natasha now works as a technical specialist for a Mobile Marketing Company though she loves her creativity more. She’s done three stage plays that went into production at a local theatre in Durban, South Africa. She is also a ghost writer and enjoys the challenges that come with writing fictional stories in the romance genre. It’s in her creative prose, poetry, and storytelling where she can express her innermost emotions and feelings.
Life Log #205
This story first touched our hearts on October 12, 2018.
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