They say that mothers defy death in order to deliver their babies into the world. It’s true because I have experienced that, too. Additionally, many experience post-partum depression. But what if you experience delivering a lifeless child into this world? How does one get over the grief of miscarriage? Will a mom ever forget about her unborn?
Living the Life That Many Dream Of
Dr. Gienah Ganzon is a licensed physician from Bacolod City, Philippines, specializing in family and community medicine. In 2012, she met the love of her life, American accountant Brian Eskow, and the following year, they got married.
At first, the couple had to contend with a long-distance relationship (LDR) because Brian is working in the United States while Doc Gienah had to finish her residency training in Iloilo City.
In January 2015, she found out that she was pregnant so she moved to the United States in July while pregnant with her eldest. They settled in North Carolina–Brian’s home state.
While it wasn’t an easy pregnancy that came with some episodes of bleeding, Doc Gienah was able to get through with it and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in September. They named him Elijah.
The Second Baby
Elijah brought so much joy to the Eskow household. An easy child to take care of, he was such a delight. By this time, Doc Gienah was already working as a procedure tech and medical assistant with the National Spine and Pain Clinic.
Whenever they were off-duty, the little family went out on picnics or visited family and friends. They tried to spend much as time with each other and witness Elijah’s milestones.
Soon after, Doc Gienah became pregnant again. She has always wanted two kids and even before conceiving she already had a name for her future daughter – Avery Divine. And yes, it was girl!
However, this new mom did get mixed emotions. “I was excited because I always wanted at least two babies.” But the same time, she was anxious about finances.
“I also wondered if I can handle a toddler and a newborn at the same time without a full-time helper.” As many of us know, people in the United States work so much and getting even just a part-time household help can be really expensive.
A Dream Pregnancy That Turned Into a Nightmare
Everybody was excited for Doc Gienah’s second baby. A baby shower was held for her. She has amassed baby girl stuff and the nursery is already prepared.
Doc Gienah carried her baby Avery until 40 weeks. The pregnancy was actually very smooth, compared to her first. There were no problems or complications. “She was very active (in the womb), too,” Doc Gienah remembers.
Two days before delivery, Doc Gienah went to her OB-Gyne for her last checkup. She was told that the baby was fine and ready to come out.
Then two days later, Baby Avery’s heart suddenly stopped beating. Just like that, without rhyme or reason, Avery was gone.
Induced Labor and Vaginal Birth
Since Avery was already at full term, a C-Section was no longer necessary. Doc Gienah underwent eight hours of induced labor. She recalls that it was the darkest and lowest point in her life. Already in terrible pain, she angrily awaited for her baby to come out knowing that the little one was no longer alive.
The attending physicians asked if the Eskow couple wanted an autopsy. Doc Gienah only answered, “What for? Will the autopsy help to bring her back to life? She died already.” Because they did not give consent, the hospital went ahead to conduct an autopsy of the placenta. They found a blood clot in one area of the placenta, which could have caused the baby’s sudden death. But that’s just one part of the explanation.
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The Grief of Miscarriage
Doc Gienah relates that she has overcome the grief of the loss of several family members.
“My mother died when she was 44. My youngest brother died as still born as well.” A few years afterwards, her uncle (mom’s younger brother) also passed away at age 41. “My grandfather, who was very close to me, died at age 60.”
Despite all her encounters with grief and losing family members, Doc Gienah says that losing Avery was by far the hardest. She thought that she would handle this better than her husband Brian because of her past experiences. But the grief was just overwhelming for her.
The worst part was that Doc Gienah blamed herself. She felt guilty and blamed her body for failing her baby and successfully delivering her as expected. “My body failed her (Avery). I failed her,” she laments.
Getting Over the Grief
All the negative and toxic emotions overwhelmed Doc Gienah. “I hated myself,” she remembers. She didn’t have family there and felt desolate. But she knew that she needed to fight back and live again because she still has a husband and a little boy looking up to her.
Grieving and Letting Go
The first step to healing was acknowledging the grief and then letting go. The Eskows held a solemn tribute and funeral for Baby Avery. They were able to pay their respects, send their love, and say their good-byes to the little girl they held but never met.
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Depression was real thing for Doc Gienah, both because of post-partum hormones and dealing with the loss of her baby. Additionally, she gave birth at the onset of winter, before Christmas, which exacerbated the blues. “It was so cold and gloomy,” she said. The grief of miscarriage was magnified so many times.
Her doctor prescribed Zoloft to help her cope, which she dutifully took. As a medical doctor herself, she knew the repercussions of not taking medication.
Doc Gienah battled with self-esteem and confidence issues. “I feared everything and I became a nervous wreck. It was a struggle to go out of the house because I was scared of driving.” She also recalls getting angry a lot and questioning God about the deaths in their family. She asked Him, “I thought we were done with all the deaths in the family?”
When her emotions stabilized a bit, Doc Gienah stopped her medications and stepped out in faith. “I wanted to let God heal me totally. But my healing was like a roller coaster ride.”
Just a few months ago, she started having crying spells again and was tempted to resume with her prescriptions. But instead, she asked helped from their pastor. She was referred to a Christianity-based counseling therapy. “It helped me a lot. The therapy made me just cling on to God more. It’s weird because I felt angry at God but I also hang on to Him tightly.”
Doc Gienah found herself devoting more time praying and studying the Bible than usual. She also volunteered at their church’s nursery.
Love and Support of Her Husband
The biggest factor in Doc Gienah’s recovery is the support of her husband. She can no longer remember how many times she told her husband that she feels guilty and that she blames herself. Brian just kept on listening.
When he has no work, Brian would take out his wife or just hang out with their son Elijah. He also bought her a diffuser and some essential oils in order to help Doc Gienah feel better.
Friends and Family
Many friends and family have extended help to Doc Gienah and their little family. Small or big, their gestures are much appreciated as this mom tries to cope with the grief of miscarriage. Most of all, Doc Gienah appreciates the love and prayers. She knows that she couldn’t go through this difficult time alone.
Ongoing Battle: The Fear of Pregnancy
Doc Gienah is back to work and can safely say that she’s of her zone since Avery passed. Her husband patiently coached her to slowly get her confidence and self-esteem back. Though she easily gets stressed, reading Bible verses and listening to worship songs have helped her a lot, too.
But the fear of another pregnancy is still there. At first, Doc Gienah said that she wanted to have her tubes tied right away. She just shut down.
The years have passed and she is able to talk about having another child, though the possibility is still giving her the scares. Her therapist has assured her that she is already in the healing phase of her grief journey. “Although healing is not liner, I agree and believe that I am healing. I feel better and I have forgiven myself.”
It’s still not easy but Doc Gienah is finding it easier to get up every day. She has so many reasons to live and be thankful so she remains hopeful that she is getting over the grief of miscarriage.
Challenges of Life
The challenges of life can be brutal at times. Here is one mom who has gone through so much in life but has bounced back many times. Doc Gienah is sharing her story here. Part of it is to encourage other mothers who are also experiencing grief of miscarriage. But in another light, she knows that sharing her story is already a part of her healing. God bless you, Doc Gienah!
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