Losing a child is never easy. In this post from the Mommy Series, Mayumi talks openly about the loss of her infant daughter, Miu.
When I found out that I was having triplets, I was ecstatic to hear that one was a girl. I could not wait to have her. From the moment I knew that I was having a girl, I had so many hopes and dreams for her. She would be my lifetime friend. We would go shopping together, have lunch dates and get our nails done just like best friends do. I couldn’t wait! All my close friends had girls, so Miu could fit right in. I could not wait for everyone to meet her. I wanted her to go to college in the states. The boys had a choice, but for Miu, it was the US. I wanted her to be a successful woman.
My triplets were originally due on May 3, 2012. I was hospitalized at the end of February since it was a high risk pregnancy. The c-section was scheduled for March 15th, however, if I was able to go past that date, then we’d keep the babies in. On the morning of March 3rd, the nurse did the routine fetal non-stress test (NST). She asked if I could feel the babies moving, specifically Miu. I hardly felt any of my babies moving; I thought it was because they were just squished in there. The nurse said she’d come back again later to do another NST.
When she returned a few hours later, I could tell something was wrong by the expression on her face. She asked me again if Miu was moving. I said I didn’t feel anything. She then had the OBGYN doctor come in to do an ultrasound. The doctor didn’t see anything unusual, but said he’d be back later that day to check in.
Around 5PM, I had a rush of visitors. My husband, my mom, my mother in-law and my sister in-law came to visit. The doctor came in to do another ultrasound and said he didn’t see anything unusual. However, this time, he would notify the pediatricians about my situation. He asked that I sleep on my left side that night. Miu was on my right.
Later that evening, the doctor came in and told me to call my husband and have him come to the hospital immediately. He said they haven’t decided if they will deliver the babies, but wanted my husband here so they could talk to him. We live about 20-30 minutes away. Within that 20-30 minute span it was felt like chaos.
The doctor came in and explained to me that they decided to deliver the babies and that they could not wait for my husband to arrive. It was an emergency c-section! Because a c-section is surgery, they would not allow my husband to be in the room. However, it still freaked me out that he might not be at the hospital in time. By this time the nurses were preparing me for surgery and it was just craziness all around. I was scared.
When it was time to go to surgery, I was told that they couldn’t wait for my husband. When he finally arrived, I immediately burst into tears. More than anything, I was just relieved to see his face. He’s not a man of many words, but said ganbare, which means “do your best” in Japanese.
By the time I was in the delivery room, I was practically hyper ventilating. I knew I needed to calm down, but the tears would not stop. I think at this point I started to get scared of what was to come.
At 11:56PM on March 3rd, 2012 Miu Hope was born at just 1070 grams. Then at 11:58PM Reo Grant and Kio Justice were born weighing 1444 grams and 1320 grams respectively. They were born 2 months early on Girls Day in Japan. However, unlike normal babies, Miu did not cry when she arrived; I knew something was not right. I never saw her that night. They took her straight to the NICU.
I was finally able to see Miu the next morning on March 4th. I later heard that she was not breathing when she was born. The staff had to revive her. When I saw her in the NICU with my husband the first thing he said was “she looks so much better”. I had nothing to compare her to. I saw the photo my husband took of her on her way to the NICU soon after birth. I thought she did look different. She looked like a ceramic doll soon after her birth. Completely pale and almost translucent.
On March 4th around midnight, Miu’s pediatrician explained they needed to perform an emergency surgery on Miu because she had an ulcer. My husband and I were taken into a conference room where the Director of Pediatrics and Miu’s doctor explained her condition. They were telling us that because she was so tiny, putting her on anesthesia was a risk. They asked us if we wanted them to proceed to try to save Miu. They said if they do not perform the surgery she would die, but there’s also a chance that if they perform it, her body may not be able handle it and that she could also die. We had to sign documents giving the doctors the go ahead to perform the surgery knowing the risks. I clearly remember my husband asking the Director what her chance of survival were at this stage and he said “close to zero”. I was in shock. I was speechless. I was devastated that the doctors were saying this. Even knowing this we told them to proceed with the surgery.
The doctors then left us in the room alone and said they would go prepare and to take some time alone then to go see Miu. During the entire meeting my husband seemed fine; he was trying to be strong and manly. Once the doctors left he said he could not stand and sat on the floor telling me how sick he felt. He said he felt like vomiting. He was crying and that’s something I have never seen. It broke my heart to see my husband hurting so much.
Miu survived the surgery. She was still on a ventilator, but she was alive and that’s all that mattered to us. This was only the beginning. From this day forward, it was a constant battle for her life.
One of Miu’s major issues was that her body was not releasing waste. She also could not drink breastmilk directly. She did not have the ability to suck since this is something that develops in the last couple of months in utero. I wanted her to start urinating more than anything. I wanted her to drink my breastmilk and build an immune system. She had so many IVs poking into her tiny body. It was heartbreaking. I wondered when I would get to hold her. When would she be “better”? When would she come home? Did she have any brain damage? Would I ever hear her cry? She had a tube in her mouth so the only time you could actually hear her voice was when they cleaned the tube. I never had the chance to hear her cry. Would she live a normal life? So many questions to which there were no answers.
On June 23rd, 2012, my husband and I went to visit Miu as usual. By this time Reo and Kio were already at home. We took the boys to a family member. However, when I dropped the boys off on June 23rd something told me to leave the house keys with them. I explained to the cousin that we just never knew what might happen with Miu so it was best to hold onto the keys in case he needed to go get in for the boys or our dog.
As we walked into the NICU Miu’s doctor and nurses were all standing as if they were waiting for us to arrive. I was laughing and asked “why are you all standing like something happened?” I was not prepared for what they were about to tell me.
They said Miu had 24-48 hours to live.
Her blood pressure kept dropping and they tried to do everything possible to stabilize her. I was speechless. I just walked up to her and almost acted as if I didn’t hear what they just told us. I couldn’t comprehend it. I was wondering “why us?” Everyone said “it’d be ok. Girls are stronger. She’ll survive. She’s at one of the best hospitals.”
My husband started making phone calls to family members. The policy is that only the parents of the babies in the NICU are allowed entrance, however this day they allowed family to see Miu. We held Reo and Kio close to her, telling her that her brothers were here. She didn’t need to endure anymore pain and to rest. It was the saddest day of my life.
That day would be the first and last time I would get to hold our baby girl. My husband and I took turns holding her. For the next 11 hours, I just held Miu in my arms. I never got up. I never fell asleep. I just held her knowing she was going to die. It didn’t seem real. I felt like I was watching a movie just staring at the monitor. I saw the lifelines and slowly, but surely they started to flatten and I knew it was almost time.
Miu left us on June 24th, 2012 at 5:52AM. We gave Miu her first and last bath. Once we bathed her, the nurses prepared her for the journey home. It was pouring rain that morning and I remember my husband saying “even the sky is sad”.
The first place we took her to was my in-laws house. Grandpa finally got to meet her along with a bunch of other family members. As I lay her down on the futon next to her brothers she actually had a smile on her face. She was finally at peace. From here we drove her home and as I was driving I called one of my neighbors to tell her Miu was coming home. Once we got home the whole neighborhood came to say hello/goodbye to Miu. The wake and funeral were planned for the following day.
Miu’s passing has changed my life in so many ways. I think we realize being healthy is what’s important. Not so much the materialistic things, but simply our health. We are thankful that Reo and Kio are so full of life.
I remember when they were just newborns and hearing them cry so much actually made me smile. Itmeant they were alive, they were healthy babies. I wasn’t annoyed by their crying at least in the beginning.
I always have this fear that I might lose them, too. I’m not an overprotective parent, but I will do my best to protect them because I already lost one and can’t afford to lose them. I hold their hand while walking or crossing the street as much as they allow me. They are 5 now and don’t like it sometimes. I try not to lose sight of them in stores. I always buckle them in in their car seats. I don’t want to take a chance of losing them and worst of all knowing it was something I could have avoided.
In the first year of raising them I would be so stressed out, exhausted, and tired. I wanted these babies and went through fertility treatment to get them. Now that they are here how can I complain while there are so many other people who would trade places with me any day because they want a baby so bad. I know exactly how that feels because I was that person at one point in time.
Something that helped me cope was to have something tangible that reminded me of Miu. My friends bought me necklaces and bracelets with her name engraved on it. If I felt lonely and wanted her with me, I’d wear the jewelry. It made me feel like I was bringing her along with her brothers.
Losing a child is tragic, but maybe just maybe there was a reason why she left us so soon. Maybe if she survived, she might have felt she’d be a burden because she couldn’t live a normal life; it would have been tough for us to raise the boys and her like that. I believe that she sacrificed herself so we could focus on Reo and Kio.
I think every person deals with loss differently. I talked about Miu often and to anyone who would listen. When you lose a child, you don’t need to think about how you make others feel. I honestly believe you do what you need to make yourself at peace. It’s your time to be selfish and you have every right to be. So do YOU and keep on living and cherishing the little time that you had with your angel(s).