Agnes shares her heartbreaking stillbirth experience at 36 weeks into pregnancy and the aftermath of the loss of their baby boy, Elliot.
I am Agnes. I live with my husband, Jeppe, and our dog Barney in Copenhagen, Denmark. My firstborn, Elliot, who made me a mother, calls heaven his home.
My husband and I struggled with infertility big time. Several rounds of metformin, Clomid, and three rounds of IUI(Intrauterine insemination) later, we got pregnant.
Slowly, the reality of us becoming parents kicked in and making our bond stronger day by day.
When I read the pregnancy books, I never opened the last part where it is about complications and different types of losses.
I always thought that wouldn’t be me, and why would anyone prepare for the worst. After week 26, my husband and I took a massive breath as a sign of relief, saying no matter what, now we are in the safe zone.
Pregnancy was progressing well and we had everything ready for our child – the crib was set up, the room decorated, stroller bought, clothes and toys piled up.
At 36 weeks pregnant, we rushed to the hospital after I felt no movements, only to hear the most devastating words, “Sorry, there is no heartbeat. Your baby died.”
No burying or cremation happens in the uterus, and I have to give birth to him.
I started begging them to take him out and make him live again. And also asked for a C-section, so I can sleep through it. And maybe when I wake up, the doctors will be wrong and it will all be just a nightmare.
But the doctors advised that it is best to deliver the baby vaginally unless complications arise.
The next day my labor was induced to deliver. On February 27, 2020, 18 hours into labor, our son “Elliot Jensen“ was born, still. The only cries that echoed in the room were mine, wailing, begging him to wake up.
We will never forget that moment, with his little hand under his chin and the other supporting his arm.
How peaceful he looked! He was beautiful and perfect.
Danish healthcare and bereavement support helped us build beautiful memories with our child.
We spent time with him, took pictures, and sang lullabies. Our hearts broke into million pieces as he was wheeled away to be taken for autopsy instead of coming home with us.
We came home empty-handed and to the piled clothes and toys.
In anger, we disassembled the crib and tried to hide away his existence. But his presence and love captured us so deeply that we knew this was forever and we couldn’t run away.
We had a funeral and were given a chance to say a proper goodbye. For this, I am forever grateful. Elliot is our son, our firstborn, and now we carry him in our hearts and speak his name proudly.
After 9 months of growing a human, my body obviously didn’t know that there was no living child in my arms.
My milk came in. I bled for weeks. My body has changed, my face is worn out with grief. Linea nigra hasn’t faded, and the phantom kicks are all strong physical reminders of the child that I will only carry in my heart.
Reality slapped me every time when my hands went to protect the bump. Slowly, I am trying to forgive my body for it is the only home my son ever knew that nurtured him and fought hard.
The most traumatic part of the loss is being asked to grieve in secret. And, there is a very limited understanding of child loss despite the statistics.
My most wanted child has now become a trigger. And the mention of his name is uncomfortable to the people around me.
Even though I am proud of my culture, I feel there are certain things that are not up for discussion. This made the experience more isolated and alone. I am torn between taboo and normalizing talking about child loss. And, the friends and family that I have lost as a result is truly saddening.
What helped us immensely was when people acknowledged him, said his name, and passionately listened to our story.
A nurse drew a portrait, some lit a candle, sang songs, and friends presented reminders to keep his memory alive.
I heard the most unhelpful things from people. Most of them are the cliches and platitudes like – “Everything happens for a reason,” “God, will give a better one,” “Move on, you will have another baby” “Don’t be stuck in the past, Be happy,” “Our friend had a loss and now they have a living child and they are fine!” “Time heals everything.”
Meanwhile, so many strangers and fellow loss mothers offered comfort and joined our journey, which is comforting.
And, there is another person who is utterly forgotten, my husband, husbands grieve too.
I have learned that there is no timeline for grief.
And grief exists as long love exists and is truly a journey.
Child loss is truly lonely without the right support system. I share my journey in the hope to start a conversation about baby loss and offer comfort to a hurting family like ours.
I hope you will find your tribe. Our journey doesn’t have to be lonely. And I truly believe our stories matter and have the power to heal the world.
Agnes lives in Denmark with her husband Jeppe and dog Barney. Their son, Elliot calls heaven his home. Elliot was stillborn on 27th February 2020, 36 weeks into the pregnancy. Agnes is passionate about ending the stigma around child loss, grief, and infertility. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram @agnesrjensen