Life and Death: Baby Gabriela’s Story by Niña Pilapil-Cabugao

Shortly after Philip and I were married last December 15, 2016, we started calling each other “Daddy” and “Mommy”. We wanted to invite the possibility of conceiving a child soon through those affirmative words. We were that eager to become parents.

And after just two months, our dreams came true.

I remember vividly those moments when I suspected that I might already be pregnant: searching for articles about pregnancy symptoms, asking a close friend about pregnancy tests, and planning to tell my husband about the great news. I could already feel I was pregnant, even without consulting a doctor or using a pregnancy test kit. And when those two pink lines in the home test kit confirmed my gut feel that eventful morning, both Philip and I were overjoyed at the thought of finally becoming parents.

We then visited an obstetrician-gynecologist who gave us valuable advice about the do’s and don’ts for pregnant women. Before our second prenatal visit with her she asked us to undergo an ultrasound check up, the results of which gave us both good and not-so-good news.

The baby has a heartbeat but it was weak.

So she prescribed medicine for me to help the baby’s heartbeat grow stronger and told us to undergo another ultrasound in two weeks, and then return to her for another prenatal check up.  With hopeful hearts and courageous spirits Philip and I continued with the journey of being expectant parents, following our doctor’s advice to the letter.

On our second ultrasound check up we received the heart wrenching news from the OB ultrasonographer: the baby is not showing any sign of activity, nor does it have a heartbeat.

At first, Philip and I couldn’t believe what we just read from the test results: consider intrauterine embryonic demise.

Demise! Wait a second… That means death right? As our ob-gyne looked at the ultrasound report from the OB ultrasonographer, she confirmed our worst fears, our baby is gone.

But Philip and I were not ready to give up just yet. I, for one, was not convinced of the results because I didn’t experience any bleeding at all, which was one of the symptoms of a miscarriage. So we decided to consult another obstetrician-gynecologist for a second opinion, who also specializes in ultrasonography and infertility, recommended by my mother.

Despite our high hopes that she would give us good news, she confirmed otherwise. Baby Gabriela, as we decided to name our baby whom we felt was going to be a girl, had left us and was now in heaven.

The Seemingly Long and Painful Process of Recuperating from Our Loss

After confirming the life-changing news of losing Gabriela, we then followed our second ob-gyne’s advice of expelling the embryo naturally. She didn’t recommend a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, because she believes that it may cause scratches in the uterus. Instead she asked me to take primrose evening oil to help soften the cervix. What followed was the worst menstruation and dysmenorrhea that I have ever experienced in my whole life.

The abdominal pain was unbelievably excruciating, but it was nothing compared to the agonizing and unbearable feeling of not having my baby inside me anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly articulate the whole experience. But I tried my best to be as brave and as strong as possible, both physically and emotionally.

The first few weeks after losing Gabriela, Philip and I went into an emotional roller coaster ride. Some days we would be full of hopes that we can always try again for another baby. Other days would just be too sad for words, remembering her and what our life would have been like if she was born.

Through it all Philip and I held on to each other and being devout Catholics, we fiercely prayed to God for comfort, strength, and grace that will help us get through these dark days. Through our families’ unconditional love, close friends’ support, and most importantly the Lord’s divine help, we were gradually healing from the pain and looking towards the future with high hopes and big dreams again.

The Importance of Learning about Miscarriages

One of the most important things we learned through this whole experience and journey was that miscarriages are not rare at all. In fact, they could be more common than you think.

Our second ob-gyne told us that there’s around 25% chance for women to get pregnant in every menstrual cycle but there’s also about 15% chance of loss in every pregnancy.

During the first two months after our baby was gone we discovered that we had a lot of friends who also had miscarriages, and most of them know at least one person who has gone through this experience too. What’s sad is that a lot of these women choose not to talk about their ordeal openly, which is quite understandable as it’s not a particularly happy story to tell compared to having a successful pregnancy.

However, we should be more understanding and sensitive about the needs of women and their partners who have just experienced miscarriages, and be extra careful of what we say to them or do for them. We may think we are just being sympathetic and kind but in reality we may be making them feel worse than they already do.

For me, the best way to go about it is to first express how sorry you are for their loss and then listen openly and closely to what they have to say about their experience. Avoid giving unsolicited advice and never assume that you understand what they’re going through, because the reality is you don’t. And each woman, each couple has a different journey that should be acknowledged, not undermined.

Philip and I are thankful that we have families and close friends, who may not be perfect, but have given their perfect love and support during these trying times. They are our life’s treasures and we thank the Lord for them. Today, we continue to be prayerful and hopeful that someday, in God’s perfect time, all things will be made beautiful and a new member will be added to the Cabugao-Pilapil family.

To our daughter in heaven, Gabriela, we’d like to say that we will always miss you our dear angel. Like the messenger angel Gabriel (from whom you are named after) who was sent to the blessed Mary to deliver the news of the coming of Jesus Christ, we believe you were also sent to deliver us a message.

That we should always fill our hearts with hope, faith, and love and to keep moving forward when times are rough. We look forward to the day that we will see you again. Watch over us for now our dear baby.

Please know that we love you so much and we miss you every day.

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