When you find out you’re having a baby, your whole world seems to change instantly.
At least, it did for me.
You start looking ahead at the world with your child in it. When you think of the days and months in front of you — you think of your child with you, summer holidays, Christmas, family get-togethers, life with your child becomes very real long before your child enters this world.
I was covering a mayoral election at the time of my first pregnancy, Nancy Smith versus Jacquelin Holzman in the early 90s. I was working long hours at the Sun and loving it. The day immediately following the election, after being up half the night, I went to what I thought was going to be a routine appointment with my obstetrician. I was about four months along and was so nonchalant about the appointment, it never even occurred to me to even ask my then-husband to attend. But I was beyond excited (though feeling a little guilty I hadn’t thought to ask my husband to attend) when the doctor said we were going to listen to the heartbeat.
And then there was silence.
Horrible, horrible silence.
At 58 years of age, there’s lots of things I’ve forgotten. That morning isn’t one of them. I can still remember the doctor telling me that there were parts of his job that were very difficult. And this was one of them. Then he told me the harsh reality that I could barely comprehend, that I heard through the confusing fog around me.
My baby had died.
My baby had died inside of me without me even having any idea there was something wrong.
The guilt was tremendous, fearing my long hours of work had hurt the child I was carrying. The doctor called it a missed abortion, a term I hated then and still do now. It’s described as the fetus dying, but a miscarriage hasn’t occurred.
I’m in no way suggesting my pain is the same as the Karlssons. Everyone’s experiences are different and you can’t compare pain. But I do know that losing a child can be devastating. And when I lost the baby inside me, there was nothing anyone could say that was the least bit comforting to me, some of it in many ways was hurtful – though I knew the love and caring was true.
It’s God’s way, it was meant to be, you’ll have another child.
Just words. I’d lost a child who was very real to me. And though just a few months old inside my body, my child had taken on a life. And my life had started revolving around this unborn child.
Like the rest of this city and surely much farther geographically than that, my heart is breaking for Erik and Melinda Karlsson.
And this special couple is having to deal with their grief so very publicly, in a way I can’t even begin to imagine. That they understand the love of this city, so much so that they shared the picture of their stillborn son Axel’s tiny feet — amazing.
Ottawa can be such a caring society, we embrace the Karlssons, a couple most of us don’t even know. And we embrace them in their good times and in this very incredibly sad time.
Their pain is very personal, very private and there’s nothing anyone can say that will help at this point. It’s a grieving period that not all the sage words in the world can help.