When your own child dies, that's what partnership is all about

Karina, 38, lost her baby three days after giving birth. The pain that went through her and her husband Andreas was unbelievable. Many relationships do not survive that kind of thing.

I could not touch my dead child

Again a highly pregnant move, but I was fine. Every two or three years a new city, often a new country, is normality for us and the children, 8 and 10 years old.

As the contractions began, Andreas and I were packing crockery. We left everything lying down and drove to the clinic. Two and a half hours later we took our third child in the delivery room in the delivery room. A little girl, Tessa, rosy and healthy. I was fine too, I would have loved to go home straight away.

But 24 hours later everything was different. Something was wrong with the little one. She no longer breathed properly, was intubated, connected to a heart-lung machine. For two days the doctors fought for their lives, then they put Tessa Andreas in her arms and she died.

I sat there frozen, unable to touch my dead child. That’s what I’m up to today. We do not really know what Tessa had because we did not agree to an autopsy. Presumably it was a congenital, severe heart defect or something with the lungs that probably was not mature.

No one can imagine what the death of one’s own child will do to one

Worst of all was the total despair I fell into after that. How can you love, have a relationship, take care of your family, if you just want to die?

I quarreled with everything and everyone, reproaching Andreas because I suddenly felt that the constant moves had been too much for me because he grieved differently from me and did not want to talk about Tessa over and over again.

I freaked out when he asked me to get up in the morning. “We have two children, they need you.” – “No,” I yelled, “we have three children.”

No one can imagine what the death of a child does to one. Everything seemed wrong to me, my husband, me, the children. The worst thing is that in this state of mourning, you are cut off from everything, even those you most need.

I was so angry and quarreled with everyone who wanted to comfort me

Andreas did not do anything wrong, but I was just angry. I went up with every little thing, quarreled with him, with my parents, friends, all those who said, “You have two healthy children, be happy, some have none.” As if that was a comfort.

Andreas with incomprehensible patience has caught everything and smoothed the waves. He is a very balancing and life affirming person who does not think in terms of guilt or punishment, let alone in such a terrible situation.

He is the complete opposite of me: judicious, where I get nervous or panicked, indulgent and humorous, where I quickly judge or snap responded. Maybe that’s also related to his job. He works as a legal negotiator in an international authority. Sometimes he says, “You do not believe in what kind of mistakes I’m dealing with, but you’re really harmless, sweetie.”

Partners often mourn differently: I wanted to talk, my husband was quiet

He took care of everything after Tessa’s death, making sure our big boys met their friends and pursued their hobbies. That helped him in his grief. In the first few weeks he also cried many times, once he collapsed in the morning shaving. It was terribly frightening and important at the same time: I finally saw his pain.

I tortured myself with self-blame, though nothing and nobody could save Tessa’s life. And something else wore me down: Just before I got pregnant with Tessa, I had a flirtation with a single father, completely harmless, nothing happened. But I pounded that her death is the punishment for it. It sounds crazy, especially since I’m not religious at all, but that’s how it was.

If Andreas had not been so unshakeable, loving and patient, I probably would have gone crazy. He never reproached me, held me tight for nights, listened to me, consoled me. Although he suffered just like me. I do not know where he took this power.

Three months after Tessa’s death, we visited a group for orphaned parents for the first time. It helped me a lot, more than the psychotherapy that I do. Some couples are now separated, which happens very often after the death of a child. Most of them can not get along because they grieve so differently.

Tessa’s brother is a godsend

That is also our topic: I am more offensive, I want to talk a lot and cry a lot. Andreas mourns more quietly, more to himself – as many men do. But we could say everything at any time. Therefore, we never really came to a separation . Today Andreas is much more to me than my husband and the father of my children. He is my best friend, my confidant, the person who knows me best.

One year after Tessa’s death I became pregnant again. A happy, little boy who will soon be two. He is a godsend. I am still amazed at how such a pain could be created by such a child. In our environment, some people found this too early, but who wants to seriously decide what’s right or wrong for us?

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