Vaishali and her husband had an infant loss 22 weeks into her pregnancy. She is a womb cancer survivor and underwent IVF to conceive. 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she contracted an infection, and their baby girl, Jaya was born on 19th August 2019, she lived for 14 minutes.
My name is Vaishali and this is my husband Rahul. We live in Preston, England, where Rahul is from, but I am originally from London. We met in 2013 on Shaadi.com and went on to meet in person in July that year. For me, it was an instant connection and I knew from our first meeting that this was the man I would marry. It took him a little bit longer though.
We got married on 1st August 2015 and I moved in with him and his family the very next day. In 2017, after some fertility testing, I was diagnosed with Grade 1b womb cancer, which was successfully treated and we went on to conceive our daughter, Jaya, in March 2019 through IVF. Unfortunately, I contracted an infection so she was born at 22 weeks and she became our star in the sky on 19th August 2019, 14 minutes after she was born.
On August 17th, 2019 Rahul and I flew to Italy for a holiday. The day before I thought I was experiencing leakage so I called my hospital and they reassured me everything was ok.
We started to explore Naples and I started feeling a bit funny, but I thought it was just the heat.
I took a nap and woke up with a high temperature.
We decided to go to a local hospital to get checked. They said I had an infection and kept me overnight. The next day we were discharged from the hospital, told to fly home and go straight to a hospital for treatment.
That evening we reached Watford General A&E and after an examination, I was told that my cervix has dilated 3 cm. The pains I thought were constipation had in fact been contractions. They said they would do what they could, pumped me full of antibiotics, and said we would have to wait.
The next morning when the Dr came to see me and performed a scan, the amniotic sac had gone and Jaya’s little feet were already coming out. I told my immediate family and my 2 best friends over WhatsApp and not long after gave birth to Jaya, alive. She lived for 14 minutes. 14 minutes in my arms, holding her Daddy’s finger. Even now I cry thinking about that day.
Infertility has been a really difficult journey to manage.
There is so much shame and guilt attached to the inability to have a baby naturally. I’ve always known I may struggle with my PCOS diagnosis but it’s bloody hard work. Supplements, diet change, minimal caffeine etc the list goes on.
And that’s before you even start IVF. For me, there was also my womb cancer diagnosis so that was 2 years of treatment overall. When our first IVF cycle worked, it felt like a dream come true, a miracle.
To then lose Jaya felt like a cruel trick. To do everything right, to wait so long, to watch as everyone around us got pregnant at the drop of a hat and for her to die I honestly felt like I was being punished. I have even thought at times if this was a sign that I’m not meant to be a mum. It’s been traumatic and difficult, especially with no one else I know having gone through cancer, IVF, and loss.
I think there’s been so much that has been traumatic after a loss.
Pregnancy announcements have made me feel really isolated.
For every person who has a child or announced a pregnancy, I felt like there’s one more person I can’t speak to about Jaya. The general silence around her death was really hard for me. There were so many people who I thought would be there for me who disappeared and that was difficult.
Hearing that other pregnant woman had been told to stay away from me by relatives made me angry and so confused because I felt like I was being punished twice and to then have those feelings dismissed just made me feel worse.
We jumped straight back into IVF and that cycle failed and soon after we found out some pre-cancer cells had returned so I had to have the coil put back in. The accumulation of all that almost pushed me over the edge.
I was in a really bad place about 6-7 months after Jaya died and there were days I thought I wouldn’t be able to pull myself out of the darkness.
The support I had from some family and friends was invaluable. My cousin and his wife and a good friend had experienced loss in the same year I had. They were among the first to message and call me and to talk me through the beginning of what would be the most difficult journey I have ever had to experience.
Few friends tell me that the way I was feeling was completely OK, which totally validated the uncomfortable emotions I was feeling.
I thought I was dealing with it all in the wrong way and being too emotional, but they helped me to see that what I was feeling was normal.
I had friends and family members who announced pregnancies, be so understanding by telling me privately before they officially announced, and saying that they knew this would be hard for me and to take whatever time I needed to process the news.
There are so many people who have randomly messaged Jaya’s name to me or told me they thought about her or they were thinking of us and knowing that we were in people’s thoughts really helped.
Early on my sister sent me a link to a blog written by another loss mum who I now follow on Instagram and through her and other accounts. I have made friends with other loss mums who I don’t think I would have got through the last year without.
From them, I have learnt that sitting with the hard emotions is more important than just being positive all the time and that it takes so much strength to be open about the difficult things in life.
The most unhelpful thing for me was the silence.
There have been times I’ve mentioned Jaya by message or in person and all there has been is silence. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to mention her that she should be forgotten. And then you get the things people say that you wish they wouldn’t.
Things like, ” She was too good for this world. She’s in a better place. You need to move on. Let go. You’ll feel better when you get pregnant. At least you know you can get pregnant. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Was it because you went on holiday?” These are really hard things to hear when I was already questioning everything and feeling guilty.
I’ve also had people say, ” it’s really hard,” when referring to what to say/how to act. But honestly I just think if you think it’s hard how much harder do you think it is for me. I have to live this. This is my life. Every day is hard in a way.
Cancer is hard. Infertility is hard. Baby loss is hard.
But I have found that Jaya dying has been the hardest obstacle I have ever faced.
It has tested me to the point where I thought I might not get through it.
It has tested my marriage almost beyond its limits. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really good friends and relatives and the insta loss community. Without them, I don’t think I would have survived. All I can do now is to share my story so that other women, especially Asian women don’t feel alone. I continue to have hope that I will have my happy ending one day.
Vaishali lives with her husband Rahul in Preston, England. Their baby girl Jaya is their star in the sky. Vaishali is a womb cancer survivor and underwent IVF to conceive. 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she contracted an infection. And, Jaya was born on 19th August 2019, she lived for 14 minutes. You can follow her journey on Instagram @jayas_star