Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a mother.

I got pregnant in March, after I was married. I went to the doctor, although I had a pre-existing health condition, he told me not to worry. He told me everything was going along well. I live on an island, so at the time, we were limited on care.

As far as I knew, everything was going fine.

I went to the doctor for a routine check up, plus to find out the baby’s gender. During the  ultrasound, the doctor told me that my child was on the big side. He told us that I needed to go off-island to the big city, to get a second opinion.

On August 3rd, with my mother and my husband in tow, we traveled for our ultrasound. I knew there was no heartbeat. The doctors tried everything from buzzing my stomach to turning me from side to side. But my child had passed away. I heard myself cry.

It was a cry that no mother should have to cry.

They started asking me all these questions: Why wasn’t I on medication? What were my treatment protocols? My head was spinning.

They didn’t have room for me deliver her that day. So, I went home, back to the Island. I carried her for three more days. During those three days, in my head, I thought they were wrong.

I swore that I could feel her, I swore that I could feel movement.

But what I was feeling, was small uterine contractions. That Sunday, I went to the big city hospital again. I was put in the Maternity Ward. I could hear so many babies crying.

Monday, my daughter was born still.

I was so out of it. It was like a movie. I knew she was a girl before they even told me. In her short time on Earth, in my belly, she brought me the most incredible Joy. So, I named her Joya. They asked me if I wanted to take her home. I was so confused. I said no. They put her cremated remains in the garden of the hospital.

I came back home to this emptiness, it was horrific. So many of my so-called friends stayed away from me. My family didn’t know what to say, so they said: “you can try again”. Even the doctor that treated me said that I could just, try again: “It was just a fetus”.

That was 20 days after my daughter was born still. My doctor hadn’t even contacted me to see if I was ok. I remember yelling, saying she was my child. I was more than halfway to my due date.

She was a person.

Eventually, a girlfriend of mine got me help. I wouldn’t have made it through without the help of a local nurse. She listened to me cry.

I went for my follow-up in the big city. They told me that my medical care was subpar, that I should consult a lawyer. I found out that the OBGYN that was treating me, was not a board-certified physician. I ended up suing and I won.

It took me 7 years to get what I wanted. I wanted him not to practice anymore.

15 years ago, when this happened, we just didn’t talk about it. I suffered for years. There were bouts of depression, suicidal thoughts and an emptiness that nothing could fill. I would look at mother’s that I thought were inept, I wanted their babies. I felt they didn’t deserve them. My marriage fell apart. My husband had a baby with someone that I thought was a close friend. It was such a rough patch.

One day, I met a man by sheer coincidence. Three years later, we got married and we became pregnant. I was sad to find out it was a girl, I was sure that she was going to die before I even had the chance to meet her. When she was born, I wouldn’t hold her until many doctors had checked on her, I needed to make sure that she was okay.

I lived in constant fear that she was going to die.

I felt guilty for having another child after my daughter Joya. To me, It was like I was dishonouring her by moving on. With counseling and medication, I got through that.

<img src="Breastfeeding_world_Joy_was_my_child.jpg" height="300" width="169" alt= joya was my child - three children">

Now, I have a daughter, a son and a brand new baby boy. They are all healthy. I still mourn Joya, not everyday but often. The experience I went through helps me to help others. I am no longer silent.

It hurts a lot, it will hurt forever.

Sometimes I have dreams of what she might look like, what she might be like. She was due on Christmas day, so that’s always a bittersweet day for me. My husband honors her memory, even though she wasn’t his child. Our children know about their sister in heaven and talk to her quite frequently.

I focus on the truth that, though her life was so short. It was not in vain, she saved other babies from her same demise.

Because I live in a small community, I see the doctor every once in awhile. I say hello, I make him talk to me. I make him look at my other children and say hello to them. Still, I have a piece of her baby blanket that I was making for her. It is packed away safely. But, sometimes I pull it out and I have a good cry. Time does make it easier, the grief is like an ocean. It comes in waves. I have learned to say it’s okay,  not to be okay. I forgave the doctor a long time ago. The forgiveness is for me, not for him.

I had a daughter on August 6th, her name was Joya. My daughter would be 15 years old. I believe she would have been amazing.

I miss her, I love her and as long as I’m living, my baby she will be.

<img src="Breastfeeding_world_Joy_was_my_child.jpg"height="300" width="225" alt= joya was my child - olivia butler">

Olivia Butler

 

Learn more about this series, a letter from the Breastfeeding World Team

Join us in Breaking The Silence 

Megan’s Story

 

Anika’s Story

Janice’s story

Randi’s Story

 

Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!

And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld 

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Samantha Sykula
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Samantha Sykula

Designer & Owner at Hooked on Ewe
Born and raised in NY, I studied speech and language pathology at NYU. I am a stay at home mom to two beautiful children, Richard and Charlotte and wife to my wonderful husband, Rich. I have always had a deep love for learning, which has grown further since becoming a mother, I am always looking for new ways to enrich our lives. Becoming a mother changed my life, I learned compassion, caring and most importantly, true love. I hope to share the experiences of my breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, crocheting, full of love, life.
Samantha Sykula
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