Ten years ago we began our journey along the Via Dolorosa, not a road we would have willingly choosen, the pain was intense and yet from the suffering our relationship with Our Lord changed and intensified, He does indeed carry you. Admidst our pain we were also blessed with incredibly precious moments.
Ten years ago today I was 18 weeks pregnant, it was the day we discovered that our sweet babe had died. Two days prior whilst at my brother’s 21st party I had begun bleeding, I whispered to my husband what was happening and we sat quietly hoping and praying. We left as soon as soon as possible, putting myself on bed rest for the rest of the weekend hoping it was a false alarm. On the Monday we went in for a scan.
Still convinced all would be well, we blithely took the children with us to hear their siblings heartbeat, a heartbeat we were destined not to hear. In shock, minus the children, we headed back to the doctor to plan our next step. It transpired that our sweet babe had died two weeks previously and would need some assistance in departing the womb.
Name choosing is not ordinarily an easy process for us, this time however ‘her’ name just came. As we drove to collect the children PC declared her name was Gabrielle, I LOVED it, perfect. When I wondered what second name, he answered, Gabrielle d’Angelique and so it was.
Later that afternoon we received a phone call, PC’s brother and wife had welcomed to the world their first child, a daughter…amidst death there is life. Despite our intense sorrow it was consoling to welcome a new life into the family whilst another departed. Our niece’s birth was healing.
Our plan involved an induction the next day (tomorrow’s the anniversary); it was long, it was painful, and yet it was so special, that time with just my husband and baby, creating her own birth story. We were blessed to have a friend, a Catholic midwife with us, she conditionally baptised our babe as she physically entered this world. A few weeks previously I had experienced a strong feeling, I had contemplated that our baby might not be, that something was wrong and I recall consciously handing her to God, I prayed “Thy will be done” and covered her by Baptism of Desire.
Our hearts were broken and yet in sorrow there is joy, there are precious moments. That day as we waited for labour to start every member of the nursing staff sharing their own stories of loss, they truly extended their hands in love, they nurtured and prepared us. They forever have a place in our hearts.
We took our wee babe home, in her little shoebox coffin, we rang our priest who was very good to us. He came and conditionally baptised her again and buried our baby in a wee burial ceremony on our front lawn. This was incredibly consoling, we are forever grateful to that priest and to the Church for her Sacraments.
Whilst I suffered great loss, in some ways I think it has been harder for her daddy, for 18 short weeks I was blessed to cradle her in my womb, whilst for my husband he didn’t have that consolation. The sorrow of her siblings was so hard to bear too, they so longed for another precious one, they all grieved terribly and still talk about her.
Family and friends grieved with us and many called, sent cards, delivered meals and gave gifts. To be wrapped in love meant so much and the precious memorabilia, the little teddies, booties, medals that are ‘just Gabrielle’s’ are placed in a special box of keepsakes.
Three months later we were blessed to conceive our Jelly Bean, and she brought much healing and solace. Carrying a child after losing one was wrought with a fear we had never really known before. To be honest ten years and five pregnancies later we still do not really breath with ease until we are past 18 weeks.
Five months after losing Gabrielle I walked a block up the road to visit my dear friend, the two of us had been joyous to once again share a pregnancy journey together, we were delighted to be due only days apart. Her sweet V had just been born, on the day before Gabrielle was due (Jan 1st). Having heard that many woman find newborns so difficult to hold after losing their own I was a bit nervous, “how would I feel, would this hurt too much?” When I held that babe in my arms she was an instrument of healing, she was so precious, her own sweet bringer of joy.
This year our Christmas Babe is due two weeks before Gabrielle was due. (I’m now 20 weeks so am breathing easier) This will be our first babe due anywhere near Gabrielle’s due date. (we have a five month break of birthdays over the end/new year) To be expecting a baby at the time of Gabrielle’s expected date, ten years later is rather precious.
We love our Gabrielle, she bought us much closer to Our Heavenly Father, out of sorrow grows strength, and we are consoled with envisaging her sitting on Our Holy Mother’s Lap in Heaven, smiling at Our Lord, and we look forward to meeting her in Heaven.