We wanted to create a series where we share our subscriber’s stories. It’s important to talk about what we’re experiencing as it may help someone else. These topics of conversation are often labelled as “taboo” or aren’t even spoken about. We need to change that cycle and share our stories. This is a safe space where everyone in the community can share and ask questions.
This Month is: Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness
October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness. Fertility Matters is a great source of information. They’re able to help you with any questions you may have and guide you into the right direction when you may feel lost.
They are doing a virtual walk this weekend to raise funds and awareness. For more information about them and the services they offer, please visit their website Fertility Matters.
Highlighting this month: Antonella. She’s allowed GLW to share her story.
Hello and thank you to Katherine Garbarino and the Girls Living Well team for opening this up to the public so we can help those who suffer in silence.
My name is Antonella Rosa Mendicino and my Husband is Luigi Colubriale. We want to make our tragedy a stepping stone to help women and men who have unfortunately become part of this life we didn’t dream of. I as a mother need to end this silence and make it ok to talk about our children in a positive light rather than be silenced. The Stigma with your help ends today! Where do stillborn parents begin? For one we don’t have a proper name. I read an article that stuck with me that said; when your parents die you’re an orphan. When your spouse dies your widower but what do they call a parent that survives a child? Nothing. We are the forgotten ones. I would like to call us Angel Parents. I will speak on behalf of my husband as well as myself.
To begin, stillbirth is not just the death of your child. It’s the death of the hopes and dreams of mother and a father and the pain of a grandparent that not only has to watch the pain that their children are going through, but the loss of a grandchild that they will never get the chance to spoil and love. The meaning this baby boy had to our siblings, his godparents and to who he would have been to our son Vincenzo, his big brother was heavy, morbid and unfair. The confusion, the anger, the guilt was unbearable. I had my whole pregnancy mapped out as I was diagnosed for the second time as a gestational diabetic. This was not my first rodeo. I had enough experience and knowledge from the first pregnancy thanks to Dr Bond, my endocrinologist on how to give myself the best care. I gained only 4 pounds aside from the almost 11 of my child. My OBGYN Dr Robert Koby is my superman. The amount of care, the extra ultrasounds, the extra visits made me feel safe and secure. My doctor even gave me the gift of seeing my son in 3D days before my scheduled c-section.
Now here is the time we have been anticipating. The night before I would meet my little baby boy. I did what I did every night before I fell asleep. I told him that “Mommy and Daddy and Vincenzo are so excited to see you and you’re going to have the world’s best big brother ever”. I gave a little push to the side of my stomach and shortly thereafter I always got a sweet little kick. Little did I know that that ultrasound a couple days ago was the last time I would see my child alive and tonight would be the last kick I would ever feel. As we pulled up to the hospital that morning, all we could do was look at the clock until Nick Antonio would be in this world. So, there I was, stuck in anticipation as the nurses hooked me up to the heart monitor to hear the sweet symphony of my little baby’s heart. Little did Lui and I know that the moments to follow were going to change us forever.
The heartbeat was nowhere to be heard. The ultrasound showed a once kicking baby to a still quiet little baby. My womb lays quiet as all I hear is the blood rushing to my head and my heart beating. I look around the room for someone to help me and notice the look of horror on my husbands’ face. Then, I gently feel Dr Angela Mallozzi grab my hands and whisper sobbing “I am so so-so sorry sweetheart. But…. he has passed” they alerted Dr Koby and he was on his way. I am sorry the entire staff chants as nobody could hold back tears. I shake my head in disbelief. In comes my Dr Koby looking just as heart was broken shaking his head in tears. He couldn’t save him, no one could, it was over.
The emotions left the pandemic at the door as he wrapped me and my husband and his arms and just held us for what felt like a lifetime. He held my hand in tears and promised he would take care of me so that I could go home and be with my son Vincenzo whom he also delivered two years before. My nurse Erin who was my angel helped me so much. I still think of her eyes. I will never forget her holding my hand the entire time. I looked around waiting for something to change and everyone’s voices slowly became muffled as the moments to follow felt surreal. As the team slowly wheeled me to the operating room all I could do was look around and watch the nurses stand like I was a soldier about to leave for war as they put their hands on their hearts as I wheeled by with my husband by my side.
As the drugs begin to flow through my veins like vampire venom numbing any life left in my heart the seconds turn to minutes as our little Nick Antonio was born. The silence replaced the innocent cries that should have filled the room. There it was, on September 25th at 8:48am at 10 pounds 11 oz a part of us died with our precious little baby boy. The arms that were supposed to be used to cradle him to sleep cradled his lifeless body until we had to let him go. How does a mother and father ever say goodbye? Just to think, we never got to see the colour of his eyes! How can that one more kiss be enough. It will never be enough and just like that the coffin closes and We watch as our pride and joy get pushed into a wall instead of our arms.
We are grateful to God that we have our little boy, Vincenzo. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know how we would be today. He is our world. His laugh, his smile, his gestures of emotion, his cuddles and his affection nursed out broken hearts. The next six months that followed were restless. I woke up every day frightened of the guilt that I may have done something to cause this to my own son. As a gestational diabetic you always fear that lactic acidosis is to blame. Dr Koby ordered two Autopsies that confirmed asphyxiation due to his little leg kinking the cord that caused his death. There is our tragedy that we will hold in our heart until we meet him one day.
The advice I have for parents that are going through this pain is this. You are not alone. We are here and the world is here. Yes, I woke up the next morning with no baby but a box of what he was wearing but I knew not to listen to anyone. As a couple we decided on how we should say goodbye, follow your heart and don’t feel bad for something as big as the event. Even if it’s you and your spouse you are still honoring your child as you see fit.
If you’re a reader and you know someone that suffers, please listen to them, hold their hand, take walks, allow them to vent or just make them laugh and take them away from the pain by acting as you would before this happened. Do tell them you are there if they need them. As much as people want to surround you with love and protect you from pain, sometimes just your presence, texts and gestures are priceless.
Please visit my Instagram @ellamendicino if you are alone and need to talk or have general questions. In the meantime, don’t ever feel guilty for anything as it is never your fault unless it is done intentionally. Don’t ever feel bad for decisions you make after the fact as it’s your heart doing what it needs to survive. For us we allowed my mother, sister and my husband’s parents and sister to come to hold him as well. That’s what they needed to do. We celebrated his life with our closest friends and family thanks to covid restrictions and it’s posted on my feed. There is no right or wrong in this. You are in-survival mode. Last but not least. Don’t ever let someone tell you to move on and move forward. These are opinions that need not be shared. Nobody unless they have walked in your shoes and can truly understand the pain of a lifetime.
Thank you all for reading what’s in our heart. I hope to help those that need it and please after reading this kindly show support to someone in any way on social media by posting a butterfly emoji with holding hands and tag this article to a parent(s) that need your love whether it happened this year or 40 years ago. The more we post the more we can end the stigma of infant loss and being alone to grieve. We are stronger when we stand together. Be safe.
Antonella Rosa Mendicino