When it comes to the unconditional love that can exist between a mother and a daughter keeping the head above water requires more than general sayings. I have lost my mother when I was 12 years old and my daughter at the age of 25. After this second loss, I needed to find a specific detail that I miss the most from my daughter to make sure not to lose what is left of her.
YunNan has been named after my favourite province in China. She was and will always be the southern cloud to me. She has been such a blessing that sometimes I lose track of time. I am in denial. I might have dreamt some parts of the most important story of my life. I might be crazy – at least it is comfortable to think and feel this way.
Yet my flesh recalls how it felt once – being more than one. The process of self-growing a miracle, something that was bigger than my round belly. I was obsessed by the body transformation that I was going through: looking, talking and touching my precious belly. My womb became a fertile soil – a safe place to empower a human being. My body remembers that it has been incubating, healing and caring for another body – in a mysterious place – deep inside.
I did not realise that she was dead. Dead inside. Inside me.
At 8:15 am on the 29th of March I gave birth to her silent, inert, and beautiful body. A baby girl born in a complete silence – one could feel the heaviness of time. A heavy icy atmosphere broken by the calm voice of the midwife asking if I wanted to see her. I was longing to hold her. I needed to see her – and there she was on my chest. Her purple light brown skin against my hypnotised body and mind. She was truly mine – indeed.
I ate YunNan.
I lost my identity overnight. At least the one that made me feel truly a woman. An individual aware of its many powers, of the responsibilities it entails, of its many shapes. A pregnant body with only one heartbeat. A pregnant body with no body to sustain. A mirage. Emptiness.
My childbirth story is still a fresh wound. A wonderful process that did not bring life. The encounter of my mental instability with my physical pain before becoming void. I felt strong and empowered while experiencing the violence of labour that not even radical love could prevent. It was the least that I could do for my breathless baby.
YunNan was real she was made of energies and suddenly she was no more. As soon as she came she disappeared, in an unexpected way. I have screamed her name and I have touched the ground. The horrifying nightmare in which one keeps on falling from a skyscraper has become my daily routine. But I also laughed and felt happiness; I was ashamed of feeling good, of being alive. The truth is that growing a human being inside has been the happiest moment of my life. She made me stronger, a strong mother without a child. She helped us heal together – the three of us – as a family.
There is a space from which I will never let her out – my heart.
When I close my eyes I return there – in this special place – where only the two of us know of its existence – where I can still nurture my child. When I close my eyes she is still here – within me – alive. When I close my eyes I am still YunNan’s hybrid mother. I refuse to hide myself. I refuse to silence her name. Death is only a part of life. Stillbirth is still a birth.
Stillbirth might be invisible yet it remains a reality for many families across different socioeconomic groups. A total of 2.6 million stillbirths occurred in 2015, and women accounting among the Global Poor are the most at risk according to the WHO*. Pregnancy does not equate to new human being. Women experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss worldwide deserve respect and sensitivity from our individualistic society. Losing someone is never a neutral process. However seeing pregnancy as a straightforward process is a lie.
I will always first and foremost be YunNan’s mother no matter how vocal or not I am about it. I do not want to be told how strong I am, I just want this child to be remembered. There is neither such thing as the right thing to say nor the right thing to do in this situation. As every pregnancy is different every loss is. There is a bleeding hole in my heart but I am grateful to this sparkling queen that will always be YunNan to me. She brought unexpected strength to my life.
It is ok to lose someone. It is ok to be happy after a loss. It is ok to react in a different manner. It is ok to be the very unique human being that you are.
It is ok to lose someone.
Her heartbeat. That is the very thing that I will always be missing – her heartbeat.