I can't help but wonder what Mother’s Day would be like if my daughter were here

Sapna and Chetan were over the moon when they found out they were pregnant with a daughter. But at 35 weeks, they were told their baby had no heartbeat. Skye was born in March 2021.

Finally becoming parents

My husband Chetan and I have tried to become parents for 10 years now. Our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, which was hard for both of us. We were then referred for IVF as we were unable to conceive naturally.  

Our first IVF transfer was unsuccessful, but the second turned into a beautiful pregnancy. We were so excited. In our 10th year of marriage we'd finally become parents - the years of being asked "when are you going to have children?" would be over.  

For our baby shower, our loved ones had decorated the house (as a surprise) with our scan photos and afternoon tea. Chetan was giddy with excitement and I was a bundle of happy tears all day. I couldn't believe I was finally having my baby shower after so many years of attending others.  

The dreaded words

I was approaching 35 weeks when I woke up one morning and couldn’t feel her moving. We rushed to the hospital, where we were seen immediately by the doctor. When 3 more came in to have a look, we knew it was bad news. We were told the dreaded words, ‘I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat’. We were devastated.  

We’d had no warning, no pain, nothing.  How can the heart just stop beating at this stage?  

They told us we’d have to come back in a couple of days to be induced. I’d have to give birth ‘normally’. We couldn’t think of anything worse. We were terrified.  

On Saturday 6th March, we gave birth to our beautiful baby Skye.  

Parents to a princess

Her birth was traumatic for us both - the silence of giving birth to a baby who didn't cry was deafening. The midwife announced ‘it's a girl’ and it was surreal. A daughter. We were parents to a princess.  

Even though we knew she'd be sleeping it was still a surprise. I remember calling out ‘make her cry’, ‘why isn't she crying’, ‘do something!’ but deep down I knew nothing could be done to wake her up.  

After her birth, I lost a lot of blood and ended up in intensive care unit. They told me I was lucky to be alive. Chetan watched helplessly as his daughter lay in a cold cot and his wife was in critical condition.

Spending time together

After I had recovered, we were able to spend time with our precious baby. I remember holding her for the first time; she was perfect, peaceful, silent. She looked like a ‘normal’ baby, just sleeping. She had her mummy's face and her daddy's slender hands and legs. I looked at her beautiful face and said “her name's Skye” and Chetan agreed.    

We held her, spoke to her, willed her to wake up because at that point it hadn’t quite registered what had happened.  It had all happened so quickly.    

Coming home without Skye

We came home from the hospital the following Tuesday with no baby in our arms, a home full of baby items and empty hearts.  We had no idea what we were going to do and how we were going to get through this.  All of a sudden, our lives had been turned upside down.  

The following weeks were torture. I was postpartum, on maternity leave and organising our daughter's funeral.  

We should have been choosing nappies, toys and baby grows but instead we were selecting a casket, funeral flowers and a hearse.  

We both really struggled with our mental health after our loss. It was hard to see a future without her. Together, we went to a grief counsellor which taught us to talk, feel and accept.  

Chetan has been amazing. Not only has he been open about his own grief, he's never questioned mine (even if my emotions felt erratic and he didn't understand them). Going to grief counselling together helped him to open up about how Skye's death impacted him and I'm so proud to say that he is not afraid to talk about it with anyone he meets.

My motherhood

Being a mum means everything to me. I grew, gave birth to and held my baby.

From the moment I found out I was a mother, to the first time I set eyes on her scan picture, to the first kick I felt in my belly I felt a connection with Skye that I’d never experienced before. It was a connection I knew could never be broken. This is my motherhood, I'm not happy that she's not here but I’m so proud of what she's bought to my life.  

Mother's Day itself is bittersweet for me. On one hand it's one of the few days I get to celebrate and feel acknowledged as mother, but on the other hand, it makes me angry.  

Why do other mothers get to celebrate with their children but I don't? Why did my baby have to die? Why can't I have a motherhood like everyone else with a living baby?  

And finally it makes me feel sad, really sad. I can't help but wonder what we would have been doing if Skye was here. Would she have made me a card? Would she have made me a special breakfast? Would I have got lots of slobbery kisses and hugs? It breaks my heart that I’ll never know.  

My message to others

To other bereaved mums: you are a mother and you deserve to be celebrated. If anything, you're the most special mother any baby could ask for. Not only do you love and honour your baby (many times in silence), you also navigate grief, depression and putting on a brave face every day.  

You love your child when they're not here and you carry them in your heart without being able to hold them in your arms.  

Your strength and courage is something to be celebrated and commended - if you do anything, please take a moment to appreciate how much you do to survive.