“My doctor said, ‘You need an emergency C-section.’”

“When I saw those 2 pink lines, I screamed and ran from the bathroom into Olivier’s arms! It was a huge surprise; we weren’t trying for a baby! I was 32 and focusing on my career as a journalist; the only parenting experience Olivier and I had was raising the 2 Indie dogs we’d rescued. But we were thrilled to welcome a new member into our family. We wanted to name our baby, ‘Gabrielle!’

2 months before my due date, we planned a getaway with our dogs to Landour. It was so peaceful–I read books and went hiking and camping. When we got back, we started counting down the days till we saw our little one.

2 days before my due date, we visited my gynecologist–she looked stressed. I cut the nervous energy by saying, ‘I can hear the baby's heartbeat,’ she replied, ‘You’re only hearing yours.’ At the hospital, I saw the machine draw a straight line. Olivier whispered, ‘There’s no heartbeat.’ The doctors had no explanation on how our Gabrielle passed away. I was forced into induced labor–I had to give birth to a stillborn baby. When Gabrielle was born, I touched him but didn’t have the courage to look at him; it would haunt me forever. Olivier wept as he saw Gabrielle, but composed himself and said, ‘Our son looked like an angel; he looked like both of us.’ He then held my hand and said, ‘I know we’ve lost Gabrielle, but I can’t lose you.’

The months after were agonizing. I received sympathy, and in some instances, blame. Theories like: ‘The risk for a miscarriage increases at 32,’, ‘You shouldn’t have travelled in your third trimester’, ‘You were cursed with black magic by someone in the mountains.’ Olivier knew we needed to heal mentally, so we packed up Gabrielle’s nursery. I turned to work; it kept me sane. And my dogs didn’t leave me alone. Over time, I was able to accept what had happened. When we were ready, we decided to try again–we tried for nearly 2 years.

Finally, when we decided to take a breather, we learned that I was pregnant. During the carrying period, my self-induced stress made me sick. I was anxious and found it difficult to fall asleep.

So 3 weeks before my due date, I went for an ultrasound–ironically, I was back in the exact same room as before. My doctor said, ‘You need an emergency C-section.’ Two hours later, I was giving birth–our baby was alive! I didn’t even care about the pain. And within minutes, we heard our baby crying for the first time–Olivier and I cried louder than him; it was as if we’d been born! I just kept saying ‘Hi!’ to him; we named him Marius. Today, we don’t just love Marius, we binge on him. The warmth of his breath on my skin is the greatest feeling I’ve experienced. Still, we remember Gabrielle. In his memory, we got a special angel ornament made for our Christmas tree. If I could speak to Gabrielle, I’d tell him, ‘You’ll always be my first born. You’re so loved and missed.’’

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