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Pain of losing an unborn child

Pregnancy
 The loss of an unborn baby is real and traumatic for both parents, even though society downplays just how painful it is (Photo: iStock)

Grieving the loss of an unborn baby is a silent form of bereavement – whether the baby dies in the early months of pregnancy (miscarriage) or late into the pregnancy (stillbirth).

The loss is real and traumatic for both parents, even though society downplays just how painful it is.

Most women experience a wide range of different emotions, from guilt and anger to sadness and depression, all of which are completely normal.

And while others opt to grieve in silence, a few have opened up about their experiences in a bid to give hope and encourage those who suffered the same outcome.

Churchill comedienne Nasra Yusuf recently shared her experience after losing her unborn child just weeks after announcing the pregnancy news with her husband, Director Rashid.

In her post on Instagram, Nasra described the miscarriage as "the saddest day of my adult life," adding that losing her baby before she met him/her made things "even harder to process."

"I was way too excited for this journey, I had everything, from the name to the sort of life he/she would have all figured out in my mind... how I wish I just saw your little face, my baby," wrote Nasra.

Gospel singer Size 8 opened up about her challenging pregnancy experiences due to pre-eclampsia, which put her life in jeopardy, and two pregnancy losses. The singer described breaking the news to her first-born daughter about the loss of her second child as "extremely heartbreaking".

"I have lost two pregnancies, the first baby (my second born) was only 12 weeks and the second had clocked five months and two weeks," said Size 8.

"I did not want to look at my dead baby because I would be scarred emotionally," she said while talking about her second pregnancy loss, adding, "I would not move on, I had connected with her and had secretly nicknamed her Peace."

The pregnancy losses deeply affected the singer and her husband, DJ Moh, as Size 8 stated that her 2018 miscarriage nearly broke her marriage.

Media personality Nana Owiti and wife to rapper King Kaka said losing her unborn baby in 2014 left her angry and confused. Recalling the experience, Nana said she "died a little" when the sonographer mentioned her baby had no heartbeat during their clinic visit.

"We were taken to the ER (Emergency Room) and when I woke up, King Kaka was by my side. My heart was dented, soul fractured, eyes were swollen and my womb childless," said Nana.

Speaking to The Nairobian about her miscarriage, Nana said she was in denial, where "you feel robbed, you are angry at the world. It is hard shaking off persistent sadness, pain, and bitterness but with my partner by my side throughout that journey of healing and accepting to be vulnerable and crying a lot, really did help me."

Nana said she joined a support group that had women who had gone through miscarriages and helped her get through the ordeal.

"They shared their raw emotions and simply reading their stories somehow made me cope with the situation," Nana said.

However, three months later, Nana conceived and gave birth to baby Gweth, a girl, and three years later, she was blessed with Prince, a son.

DJ Crème de la Crème says his "heart sunk" when his wife Denise lost their unborn baby at six months. Crème, who was out of the country at the time, said his wife called, telling him it was an emergency.

"I won't lie, my heart sunk because I somewhat knew what that meant. My wife Denise went through the procedure safely. I did not get to see our daughter whom Denise says looked so beautiful and peaceful. She managed to trace her handprints on a piece of paper. The only thing we would keep with us in memory of a beautiful soul whom we never got to know but who made us smile every time she kicked," said DJ Crème.

Despite most pregnancy losses directly affecting women, since they carry the baby in the womb, spouses also get devastated, with some men showing their grief as anger.

According to Pregnancy Birth & Baby, partners who experience pregnancy loss "might be busy helping you deal with the physical side of the pregnancy loss, and they might suppress their own grief."

But grieving is a personal affair, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it, as City Psychologist Abubakar Muindi says.

"How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style; your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you. Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually, it cannot be forced or hurried and there is no normal timetable for grieving," says Muindi.

He adds that "some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it is important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold."

Muindi says parents go through different phases while grieving, including acceptance of the loss, saying that there is always the sense that the incident never happened.

"The opposite is denial, which usually involves either the facts of the loss, the significance of the loss to the survivor, or the irreversibility of the loss," says Muindi, adding that to get through this task, "the parent must talk about the dead child and funeral, as well as the circumstances around the death."

Muindi says that "The second one is working through the pain of grief which is necessary or it will manifest itself through some symptoms or atypical behaviour."

But not everyone experiences the same intensity of pain after losing the baby as "it is impossible to lose someone with whom you have been deeply attached without experiencing some level of pain."

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