There are dates in time that will forever hold a place of importance for many people for many reasons; when it comes to my children I have three that take precedence in my mind.
April 1st, 2012, April 2nd, 2012, October 15th every year since 2012.
April of 2012 will be the month that I will always remember; it’s the month our daughter, Isabella died…
It is when everything changed in my life; I went from proud, expecting father to be to a lost and desperate soul searching for my departed daughter. April fools day will be a bastardized day for the rest of my life. It’s the day we lost our little girl with no explanation and no reason, the day the doctor could not find a heart beat that had been so strong just days before. April second my beautiful fiance gave birth to our daughter who was so still and just as pretty as her mommy; and I tried as hard as I could to get her to wake up and look at me. We were supposed to be in the clear, we had made it to 36 weeks and were rolling over to 37 and as I held her these thoughts repeated in my head over and over. We had to say our tearful goodbyes before we ever got to even say hello and we hadn’t made it past two days of the month yet. The fifth was the day no parent should have to face, the funeral for our Bella. So many large hulking men reduced to babbling tears by one little girl they never had a chance to meet. We had to bury our baby, so now instead of coming home from work to see my girl I have to go visit a plot of dirt in a cemetery. Nothing can describe the days that followed, anger, grief, numbness and pain in a whirlwind of emotions. I could be laughing one moment, crying the next. Screaming in anguish and the next minute seething with rage. I have written a lot about this time in my life and due to the deeply personal nature of it I have not yet chosen to share more.
October of 2012 we discovered that October 15th is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. The more prominent part of this day is the ‘Wave of Light’ that starts at 7 pm (regardless of time zone) and goes for a period of one hour. The idea is that a wave of light works it’s way around the world in honour of the children we have lost. These children include, but are not limited only to; miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn.
When Isabella died, I approached The City administration where I live multiple times to see if we could mark the day officially at the City and was told ‘no’ without so much as an explanation. I persisted for years after her death before finally accepting defeat.
One year ago today, I stood on the steps of City Hall with my family and with other families who have experienced this loss and watched them light up City Hall pink and blue in honour of this day. Two other parents who experienced a heartbreak like ours found an ally who was experienced with municipal government and they fought through the red tape to have this come to fruition. I was so happy to see people come out and bring the wave of light at 7 o’clock for our missing little ones.
The stigma and taboo surrounding these losses needs to stop; one in four women experience these losses and yet so few talk about them. One in four…25% of people will know this heartbreak and yet often have to suffer alone. Think about if you had a 25% chance of not having your chute open during a skydive; you’d be screaming it to the masses; there’d be massive discussions around the safety of skydiving and yet when it comes to the life of our children, it’s just too uncomfortable I guess? In the almost eight years since first getting the news about Isabella I can say with all the confidence in the world that I have never shied away from talking about her. Her name is never far from my mind and always on my lips. My other daughters know of her and love her the same as they would if they had a chance to know her. I will talk to anyone about her, and at any time. I refuse to let my baby’s name be stifled because of an antiquated taboo.
Along this journey I have found dozens if not hundreds of people with a similar story; some even more heartbreaking than ours who have felt the need to keep quiet about it. They did not share it, they did not speak of it, they had to allow their baby to die twice because no one would speak their name. Some of the people I had known for a good majority of my life and I had no idea that they had suffered like I had suffered; only after our loss and my ‘Don’t tell me to keep quiet’ attitude did I start discovering these stories and my heart breaks every time I think of what they had to endure in silence.
One year ago today, I got news after we got our kids to bed that yet another friend is now going to endure this pain, another statistic and another grief filled family. When is this going to change??
It starts with us, it starts with you.
If you’ve experienced a loss or know someone who has, never be afraid to speak their name or tell their story…you’d be surprised just how not alone you are. Speak their names, remember the time (however fleeting it was), remember what changes they brought to your lives, refuse to sit and suffer in silence!
My daughter is Isabella April Westhora, she died on April 1, 2012 and was born still on April 2, 2012. She is a big sister to my other two girls. She was our world and even in death, she has taught and continues to teach us lessons that I never knew possible. She was blonde haired and blue eyed ninja monkey and would have caused me an ulcer just a little bit sooner than her sister’s have.
We never got to know her but we will always love her.