Local mum and entrepreneur Sarah Cheng-De Winne lost her daughter Nadia at just over 27 weeks in utero. Here, she shares her story.
Pregnancy loss is a devastating experience for a family to go through, yet is rarely discussed. And sadly it’s all too common. In fact, there’s a high chance you, or someone you care about, has experienced the loss of a child in either pregnancy, at birth or during infancy. While sometimes it’s not easy to talk about, it’s vital we break the silence about pregnancy loss.
Here to kindly share her story is Sarah Cheng-De Winne. We first crossed paths with Sarah when we heard about her brand Taizjo, an independent label creating lifestyle accessories. Sarah is a creative entrepreneur, singer-songwriter and busy mother of two. But her personal story also includes overcoming a pregnancy loss in November 2019, just two weeks before the launch of Taizjo.
In her own words, Sarah relays her experience.
Pregnancy loss: a personal story
The first year of raising a child is always the most intense; I thought 2020 was going to be a ‘baby’ year. But Nadia Joy De Winne, our beautiful third child, went to heaven ahead of us. She was due on 10 February 2020.
Having had two previous healthy pregnancies, it was completely unexpected when Nadia stopped moving in utero. There is no reason, explanation or medical issue that could have predicted it. I still remember the Monday going for a check-up, then the following evening before I went to sleep feeling like she was very still. But I was tired and didn’t think too much about it.
The next day was when I started to feel odd. I still felt like there was no movement, and messaged my obstetrician, who asked me to head to the emergency labour ward right away. Sure enough, there was no traceable heartbeat.
“She was so beautiful”
We had to induce labour to prevent any risk of internal infection. Nadia was born on Friday, 15 November 2019 at 2.20am. She was so beautiful. At 27 weeks and four days, she was fully formed. We cremated her in a small ceremony later that same day.
The most massive emotion I had to deal with was guilt. What if I hadn’t exercised so much? Could I have done something to cause it? It took a lot of intentional mindfulness to realise I was sinking into negative self-blame. As a Christian, I believe with all my heart, Nadia is in heaven. But I also believe she had purpose on earth, even in the short time inside my womb. The joy she brought to us, even before she was born, can never be replaced.
The impact on the family
Having to tell the kids was one of the saddest things my husband, Mark, and I had to do. Leon, who was only four at the time, didn’t really understand it fully. He still talks about Nadia sometimes, and says he’s waiting for her to come down from heaven. He’ll point to the little urn of her ashes that sits on a console in our house. At those times, we feel like crying. We hug him and tell him Nadia’s already in heaven and she isn’t coming down.
My daughter Ines, on the other hand, is very aware. She really wanted a little sister; Nadia was the sister she was supposed to have. During a recent house move when we were packing up all our belongings, we’d even kept all of Ines’s old dresses – the special ones we’d bought for big occasions. We believed that one day we’d see them on Nadia. At the cremation, Ines cried the most. She was almost inconsolable, and deeply affected by the loss.
Physically, Mark was strongest on the outside. But I know that, emotionally, he felt such a deep sense of loss as well. Some people think the mother has it the worst, but the feelings of fathers need to be validated, too.
Learning to live with grief
What we learned is that we need to find a coping mechanism for the grief. For us, because we’re both passionate about music, we wrote a song for her (you can find it on my Instagram). Music has always been a part of my life. [Ed’s note: Sarah is an award-winning bilingual R&B/soul singer-songwriter, with a wealth of experience as a VO talent, host, and ex-radio DJ on 938LIVE.] Perhaps someday we’ll make it into a fully produced song.
Now that some time has passed, we are much less emotional. But from time to time we talk about Nadia, we acknowledge her spirit and we remind ourselves that we’ll meet her someday.
If you or someone you love has been affected by pregnancy loss, consult your physician, a mental health provider or a grief counsellor for professional support. You may also find support services such as Child Bereavement Support (Singapore) useful.