Guest Post: Alison Mintoff On Baby Loss.
Last July we welcomed our long-awaited precious daughter Elinor in our lives. Many congratulated us and there were some who ‘welcomed’ me to motherhood. However, even though this is our first experience in raising a child, not everyone is aware that my motherhood journey; our parenthood journey started way before last July.
Our lives changed forever when we had our first positive pregnancy test in May 2017. Needless to say, we were over the moon. We settled into quite a smooth pregnancy until everything came crashing down halfway through it all, on one fateful day in August 2017. Our very longed-for child was fatally diagnosed with a condition bearing a zero percent survival rate once the child is born. I am not going to divulge the name of the condition. I refuse to associate that name with my child – instead, I choose to link the words ‘love’ and ‘strength’ with her. It was described to us as an accidental occurrence, nothing to do with genetics, just something that happens once in a while – a very rare occurrence both in Malta and elsewhere in the world. It was as if we were struck by lightning.
The days after we received the worst news of our lives are now just a blur to me. All I remember thinking was that I never wanted to go out in public ever again and that I will not be able to survive it. I am just beyond grateful for the network of support surrounding us during those days.
It was also during this time we found out that we were expecting a daughter. The rest of the pregnancy passed by in a whirlwind. It was one of the difficult things I had to go through – as I grew bigger, I had to fake smiles as persons who were not aware of our situation congratulated us and asked us about our baby. No one knew how much our hearts were breaking inside.
On 27th November 2017, our precious firstborn daughter Maria Elisa was born. She gained her tiny little angel wings, 26 minutes after we welcomed her in our arms. I will never forget the day we had to say both hello and goodbye but I will always consider it as one of the most wonderful days of my life. After all, she was the one who made me a mother; she was the one who made us parents.
There hasn’t been a day ever since when I haven’t thought of her and I miss her every single day. She would have been almost 2 years old by now. Even though her life was very brief, the gifts she keeps on giving us are endless. As a couple, our relationship undoubtedly strengthened and we both went through positive changes in our lives which would have never taken place if we have not had the courage, she built within us. On the week of her first birthday, she sent us one of the greatest gifts ever: we found out we were expecting her little sister.
The reason I have finally decided to go public with my story is not to upset anyone but to create awareness about a topic that is still very much a taboo here in Malta even though unfortunately it is very real. I was told that each year approximately 50 babies in Malta are carried to term and lost just before, during or after birth – that’s 50 families who go through the pain we have gone through. And this is apart from the countless numbers of miscarriages experienced every year. 1 in 4 women in the world go through child loss at least once in their life – that’s a quarter of the female population worldwide. It is about time that we start to support each other as you would need to go through it to truly understand the pain of child loss. My dream is to someday create some kind of platform, a page or a website that will encourage, motivate and help in any way those who had to go through a similar situation.
If you are reading this and you or someone you know has gone through this ordeal, know you are not alone, reach out for help and don’t hesitate to talk about your little angel. I know it will make you feel good. Do share this message with anyone who you think might need it and I am available to chat anytime. I have made a number of friends, local and international who have also lost a little one. They have helped me immensely and I will forever be grateful for them.
The other reason I decided to share my story is because I do not want my daughter’s name to ever be forgotten. Her tiny footprints have made such an impact on our lives. And I would gladly go through it all just to see her one more time. We miss her immensely every day and even though I now only have very few pictures of her, I can see her lovely features etched in her little sister’s face.
Contrary to what many people might think, I never grow tired of speaking about her and sharing her story. For us, it was a very difficult time but it’s also a story of hope, resilience, courage and above all – love. Maria Elisa, our little star will always be our first child, our first daughter but she is also a granddaughter, a niece, cousin to our nephews and now she’s a big sister as well. I am so grateful God gave me the opportunity to become a mother to two little girls – one I carry in my arms and the other I carry forever in my heart