You can still be happy, Mom

by Claudia Ravaldi

Our story begins almost 5 years ago … they flew, literally flew.
I wonder if I had started looking for a child earlier who knows … in a week I am 35 years old and I hear the tick of the clock, tick “you have no more time Lorena”.

I thought pregnancy would come right away when I decided, but it didn’t.
You go to the gynecologist, you start with targeted intercourse, and the months go by …. basal temperature, ovulation stick, and the months go by …. the first exams and you start with light hormonal stimulations, clomid cycles, and nothing.
You remember all the names of the drugs, unforgettable, you read everything, you get a culture, you become your own doctor.
A year passes and the door to MAP opens up, when they tell us “you must go to an infertility center”.

What a horrible word! It could very well be called inferNality.

You find yourself catapulted into a cold reality, where everything is medicalized, where you worry about the thickness of your endometrium, how much your ovaries produce, the number of follicles but not how you feel inside, how you experience this failure.

It all comes down to an assembly line, you bombard yourself with punctures in your stomach, go, pick up and put back.
You attach yourself to your little blastocysts if you are lucky enough to produce them … and you already see your baby there.
How much I hoped for, but it didn’t work for me. Beta at 0 the first time, 0.5 the second and 0.16 the third, I know these numbers by heart.
3 failed IVF, a hysteroscopy where they removed adhesions and endometriosis … this is my package.
In the meantime, the months turn into years and I find myself tired and demoralized in September 2019 … the more you go on, the less you believe in it.
At work it was getting harder and harder, I felt judged, I felt misunderstood and humiliated by the fact that I could not have children.
Women sometimes know how to be perfidious and the greatest enemies of women themselves: this was my case.
I was very stressed, everything was adding up to a tension that already exists in an MAP.
Every visit, every pick up, transfer and operation was a cause for enormous anxiety.

March came, the covid and the lockdown, I spent 2 months at home from work and poof, I got pregnant of course.
I looked at that test all morning, looked at the instructions, googled if I had read the result right and looked at it again and again.
I couldn’t wait for my partner to come back from work in the evening, I was beside myself with happiness … I sent him a picture of our dog, my hairy son, with a sign that I made by hand and wrote to us
“Dad, we’ll have a baby of our own”
God how much happiness all together, all of a sudden.
Incredulous, we tiptoe into magic we had never experienced.
There is always fear for those who have experienced MAP, and I start to relax around the 5th month, but I still don’t buy anything, I’m afraid.

In the meantime, I dedicate all my time to my passion, creating decorations, creating arrangements for weddings and birthdays.
I had everything I wanted, it seemed that everything was lining up, motherhood and my work plan, I thought that maybe after motherhood I could change jobs.

I was happy, happy as I have never been.

I was in the sixth month, we arrive at the seventh and now you think “we will soon meet you”, “finally we made it”
Instead, I wake up on October 24, 2020 and without giving us too much weight I say to my partner:
“I don’t hear Emilia”
that’s what it’s called, my love.
“I haven’t heard from her since yesterday, I’m trying to eat some chocolate”
My little girl always moved a lot, she was wild.
Nothing … I don’t feel anything.
We go to the hospital, I had a presentiment, I made the whole trip by car crying in despair.

Everyone looked at me, no one spoke, walked into the room stunned … and then the words you would never want to hear:

“There is no more heartbeat”

Boom, a bomb, an explosion.
How I wanted to die in that instant, I just wanted to follow her, I had lost everything, everything, everything.
I was frozen, I felt like they had laid me under a truck, inflated like a balloon until it almost exploded and put in a washing machine at 1200 rpm.
I was completely dead, immobile, alienated.
I was watching Mirko cry in despair and I was not there, I was dead.

They induce childbirth and my wonder was born on October 26, 2020 at 7.48, at 29 + 6, I turned to the window, the sky was pink and the light came in from the window, I was holding my daughter in my arms and I felt the warmth of the sun on my legs wide open, in that bed of blood and tears.
It was the worst day of my life but I didn’t shed a tear, I had a smile on my face, I looked at her, she was gorgeous, and I smiled like crazy … I looked at Emilia’s dad who was in tears and I said “look love is the same as you, it has your nose, your eyes “
It would have been perfect if you were alive Emilia, if I had heard you cry, oh how beautiful it would have been, who knows what your voice was like.
We stayed with her for almost an hour, we saw her disappear forever inside a surgical tub all curled up because she didn’t fit, only to be covered by a green sheet.
She was already a child ready for life, why? Because!!?!

And then total darkness.
Babies cried at night, my breasts produced milk for my baby who wasn’t there. It felt like a nightmare.
We spent four days in the hospital, it seemed like 3 months.
We went home and hell started there.
We went to register her birth and death in common, we went to choose the urn for cremation and decided that we would take her home with us.
No ceremony, I was so angry that if there had been a god or whoever for him, I would have challenged him with all the anger an empty mother can have.

I spent my days between the bed and a rocking chair crying, crying, crying.
I felt like I was going crazy, I could not eat, sleep, I could not read without being distracted, I could not pay attention to the plot of a film because I was getting lost, my head was going to 3 thousand an hour, it never stopped, I just thought to my little girl and those days in the hospital.

Go back every second, every moment from the days before to those in the hospital.
“Did I do something?”
“I moved the stroller”
“I got scared with an insect that flew at me”
I was making absurd thoughts.
“I killed my daughter”
“I didn’t protect my daughter”
“I’m a failure”

Faults, only faults.
I looked in the mirror, with no belly, with empty breasts and I was disgusted, I did not recognize myself, I could not touch my belly, it was not me, there was something wrong, it was all wrong.
Cries, screams, screams … I was tearing my skin out of anger … while Mirko no longer knew what to do to save me, he suffered from losing a daughter but he also suffered because I did not want to be saved.
I just wanted to disappear.

“I can’t take it anymore, I don’t want to die with you” he told me.
I realized how selfish I was, he too was suffering but he couldn’t suffer because he had to worry about me, I was denying him the mourning of his daughter.
I couldn’t risk losing him too, I couldn’t, after all this, it couldn’t end like this.
We began a psychological journey, which is still continuing for me.
I understood that our pain was pain, but it was different and that we had different times, we just had to respect each other.
Pain unites you or destroys you.
And we have united, we repeat to ourselves that if we surpass this, we are invincible … that not everyone has what we have, an angel who is close to us and who helps us.
I went back to help out in the shop of two florist friends, pushed by them and Mirko … to distract myself.
The day flew by and I felt guilty because I didn’t think about my daughter for a few minutes.

The mind plays tricks: you convince yourself that if you don’t think about it, you don’t respect it and forget it.
But it is impossible, one cannot forget a child.

A week goes by, two weeks and I begin to take pleasure in creating flower arrangements, making Christmas decorations, setting up the shop, it was good for me, I felt the sensations I had always felt before.
I used to go to the shop even if there was really no need, they would have done just fine without me, but they did it for me, to keep me busy, to try to make me laugh.

I can’t thank them enough, because that’s where it all started.
One day I woke up and said “I have to do something for Emilia”.
I talked about it with my florist friends, holy women who have been behind all my follies!
I decided that I would create a charity collection, addressed to Ciaolapo, who from the day after the birth was a constant presence for me.
Help and advice from other mothers who had been there before me were daily bread and were essential to keep me from collapsing.

It is so I took wooden hearts that I would then have personalized by hand with the name of those who wanted them, it was almost Christmas and someone could have made a gift, even making a nice gesture, I thought.
I wrote it on social media to let people know about my initiative, I explained that the proceeds would go entirely to the association and that this for me was the gift I wanted to give to my daughter.

I took 50 hearts, believing I could sell them to some friend or acquaintance of the country.
Almost 800 have been ordered for me.
Emilia has traveled from North to South throughout Italy, Emilia is a special child and I wanted the whole world to know.

A river of solidarity, mothers who told me their story, women who had never told it to anyone, opened up with me.
I was speechless, how much love even through a phone screen.
I felt my little girl, she was giving me all this, she wanted to help me.

In the meantime my creativity returned, as if it had been strangled by sadness, I thought I had lost everything, even myself, my life plans, the desire to change, to fulfill myself … the things that had aligned during pregnancy, I thought I had lost them all.
But Emilia was there, in those hearts, in that bouquet of flowers, in those Christmas decorations, in that setting up of balloons, in that clay, in that paper, in that painting, in that drawing … every what I created was she who told me ” mom can you still be happy

That’s how you wake up one day and feel less guilty if you smile.
One day you wake up and cry less.
One day you wake up and think sweetly about your daughter.
One day you wake up and tell yourself, it can’t end like this, you deserve happiness.
That’s right, today I’m looking for happiness.
And I start from work, I quit in full pandemic after almost ten years in a dental office, to realize my working dream, the one that saved me in recent months.
Nobody saves himself alone it is true, but I like to think that it was my daughter who saved me, who showed me the way to feel myself, to listen to me, to love me.

The death of a child changes you, turns your whole world upside down and makes you see it from another perspective … is this perhaps the gift that our little angels give us, they give us a power … a power that does not everyone can have, that of the purest resilience.

Lorena, Mirko and Emilia

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