A part of me died that day.
The irony of that statement is not lost on me. I know she was a part of me physically – she was my daughter – but a figurative part of me died that day as well. I guess I should back up a little; to die, you have to be living. At least that’s how I always understood life and death. It seemed simple: you’re born, you live your life, and then you die. Dying before being born did not seem possible.
My wife and I were expecting our first child. After a few months of trying, we had finally conceived. The news was tough to keep to ourselves, but we held on to our little secret for the first 8 weeks. When we shared our news, everyone in the family was excited – our baby was the first grandchild on my side of the family. It took me some time to not refer to the baby as “it” – “did you feel it move yet,” “what will it be,” “will it look like you or like me…” were common questions I asked my wife several times over until we found out the gender.
Admittedly, like most men, I was hoping for a boy. I can’t help but feel guilty admitting that as I type this out. Don’t get me wrong, while I was hoping for a boy, after the initial shock wore off, I was thrilled to have a baby girl (while still maintaining a healthy level of fear). Several times before we found out the gender, I said I don’t care what it is, as long as it is healthy. I was on cloud nine. I was living.
The pregnancy was smooth sailing as far as pregnancies go. Only a few bouts of morning sickness and a few more bouts of inserting my foot in my mouth regarding “irrational” behavior of the mom-to-be. On that cold night in January, when my wife alerted me to the fact that she had not felt her kick all day, I immediately knew something was terribly wrong. The panic was all over my wife’s face, and I couldn’t help but fear the worst. Well, at the time, what I thought was the worst. Losing our baby at this stage of the pregnancy had never even dawned on me. She hadn’t been born yet; she hadn’t had the chance to live her life. How could she have died?
I don’t really want to relive the next 24 hours through this post. I do enough of that through my thoughts and nightmares. There are somethings you will never forget. The deafening sound of silence when the doctor is listening for your baby’s heartbeat is one of them. The doctor telling you that your baby does not have a heart beat is another. Your daughter dying before being born. If heaven and hell exist, my hell would be reliving those 24 hours again.
Those that have experienced what we experienced know the pit in your stomach that doesn’t go away. The emptiness you feel when you think about what could have been. It’s hard to explain to people that you feel like you are missing something that was never there. Yes, she was in my wife’s belly, but I never got the chance to care for her. We never got a chance to hold her, to hear her giggle, to see her eyes. Over the span of eight months, we planned out her whole future, and in one cruel twist of fate, we lost out on a lifetime of memories.
Besides losing our daughter, Quinn, I lost something else that day. I had the good fortune to be able to still see the world through rose-colored glasses into my thirties. After losing Quinn, I began questioning everything. I had always been the “everything happens for a reason” jackass everyone loves to hate. Up until late January, I could justify everything that happened to be as part of a “master plan.” While not being overly religious, I always thought I had a guardian angel watching out for me. When your child dies, you begin to question things deeper than life and death and fate vs. free will. While I haven’t found the answers I am looking for, I plan to keep on searching, knowing that I might never find an answer that explains what happened.