I want to share the story of the loss of my daughter.
In June of 2008, when I was 20 years old, I went to Berlin, Germany to spend 1 month improving my German, which was one of my majors, and enjoying myself in my summer vacation. I got a scholarship to go on the trip, so I was able to save a lot of spending money and I was planning on having a great time. When I arrived at my host family’s home, I met their almost 18 year old son, we will call him C, to protect his identity. C and I quickly began spending a lot of time together and by the second week I was there, we were sleeping together almost every night, and not in a platonic way. I was on a new birth control and was also taking antibiotics for an ear infection. We never used condoms.
At the beginning of July, he kissed me good bye at the airport, promised to write and I promised to come back as soon as I could. I was infatuated and caught up in lust. The rest of my summer was pretty boring, working as a nanny and teaching music lessons. In August, I went back to school and went back to partying quite a bit. Because of my new birth control, I only got my period every 3 months, and since I had had it in Germany, I didn’t get it again until September. Well, I thought I would get it, but it never came. Knowing I had had unprotected sex 3 months prior, I decided to be safe and take a home pregnancy test.
It was positive. September 2nd, 2008, I found out I was at least 12 weeks pregnant.
I was shocked and spent the first week crying. I called C in Germany and broke the news. He cried and proceeded to tell me about M, his long time girlfriend of 3 years, who he cheated on with me. I was naturally shocked and we hung up on each other. His mom called a week later and asked me to consider moving to Germany and letting them take care of me and the baby while I went to school there, since it was much cheaper than going to school in the US and their insurance would cover the baby and me, if C and I got married. They were pretty catholic, and although they knew we had sex, having a baby before marriage was not ok. I balked at the idea, but agreed to move to Germany and live on my own until the baby came. Then we would have some time to make a decision.
I still hadn’t told my parents in October, when I convinced them to let me sign up for an 8 month exchange program starting January 4th in Berlin, which had housing included. I planned to tell them before I left, since I would already be almost 27 weeks when I moved, but I just wasn’t ready to tell them yet. I had gained a bit of weight and was already 17 weeks pregnant when they agreed to let me go to Berlin with a plan to move there permanently, all while they were still in the dark about the baby.
10 days later, I woke up in the middle of the night in a great deal of pain. I went into the bathroom and realized when I switched on the light, that I was bleeding heavily. I proceeded to give birth to what looked like a malformed baby, at almost 19 weeks pregnant. I was only 11 days shy of the 20 week mark, which would have made it a stillbirth. My roommate found me and being a nursing major, she insisted on taking me to the hospital. I refused, because I didn’t have the money to pay the bills and didn’t want my parents finding out.
I went the next day to the clinic and they did some kind of procedure, I don’t know, I was numb at this point, emotionally and physically. I paid for it with my savings for the upcoming trip. I spent 2 weeks in bed until my best friend noticed I had been missing too many classes. Worried I would fail the semester, she tried to get me to open up, but I just told her I was devastated to find out C had a girlfriend and she believed me. I told no one but C, his family and my roommates, because I had to explain the blood everywhere at 3 in the morning. C and his family blamed me for losing the baby and cut off contact with me.
The clinic told me the baby was a girl (my roommate insisted on bringing the baby’s body with us to the clinic when I went) and I named her Hannah Olivia. She would had been born sometime in late March of 2009. She would have been 3 this year. I work as a nanny for a family with four children. Oldest turned 10 the beginning of April, next oldest turns 8 next week. Youngest will be 2 in November, but the second youngest, Lily, turns 3 on Saturday, May 5th. She is only 6 weeks younger than Hannah would have been. I have been watching her and her siblings since she was only 3 months old. Every new thing she learns, I go home and cry that my baby never learned it. Holding her makes me yearn for Hannah but it keeps her memory alive in a way I thought I never would have wanted, but cling to so very much. I finally told my best friend about Hannah last summer and she told me about a baby she and her boyfriend had to abort for medical reasons at the beginning of last year. We mourned our lost children together and it has brought us closer than we were ever before.
To this day, my parents and sister have no idea that Hannah existed. I struggle every day with the want to tell them but the fear that they will feel unnecessarily burdened after all this time keeps me from doing so. I moved to Germany like I had planned, but not despite of losing Hannah, but because of her. Because I have come to believe, deep down, that losing Hannah was how I found myself. I took a huge risk in moving at only 20 years old to another continent and leaving my family behind, but I did it because I wanted my little girl to know that I was going to make something of myself.
That through my grief I would grow and become a stronger person. That she would never stop being loved and remembered, that how I lived my life would be how I honored her own. I am not a very religious person, but I do believe in God and I know He had a reason for taking her before I could even hold her in my arms. He let me move forward with my life and do things I could never have done without losing my daughter. I still cry and mourn, but I am happy and have found peace in her death.
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