Legally She Didn’t Exist

In the eyes of the law my daughter didn’t exist.
There is no birth certificate, no death certificate, no pieces of paper to say that I gave birth to a little human and that she had been on this earth for 21 weeks filling her parents and our families with hope and excitement. If she had held on for another 3 weeks she would have been classed as stillborn meaning that she was a viable baby, but my little girl was, in the eyes of the law, a foetus.

When I have doctors appointments now, my daughter, those 21 weeks, that hope, those dreams, is ‘my last pregnancy’ or IUD (intrauterine death) never a name. Occasionally the doctor will ask if she was a girl or boy, but that is as close as they come to acknowledging that she was a tiny human. She has been lumped into my old medical records and that’s where she will stay forever. She is part of my past, but to them she wasn’t her own person. The fact that her brief appearance in this world has changed my life forever is nothing. I cannot believe that doctors who have seen babies miscarried late can still class them as foetuses. They look like tiny humans, with hands and feet and fingers and toes and even a tiny nose. Just because if she had been born alive she wouldn’t have survived in the world doesn’t mean she didn’t exist.

I sit in a dilemma when a form or questionnaire asks if this pregnancy is my first. The logical part of my brain says that it is – I never got to buy baby food for her, there isn’t another child running around my house, and if I answer with no, they will probably ask about her, ask how old she is and what nappies I buy for her, ask me questions I cannot answer, but the defiant part of my brain says that no he isn’t my first child. She is and always will have that title, and he will always have a big sister. Maybe I’d feel better about answering yes if I had been able to register her as having existed. Maybe if the law acknowledged her existence I could then be more defiant about it. As it goes I say he isn’t my first, unless that changes the next question to be about her, then I go back and change my answer.

I’m in no way saying that the pain would have been any less if I had a piece of paper to say she existed, but I have a box of memories, and a heart full of love for my daughter who no family tree will know existed, who, if someone in the future looks up their ancestors, she won’t be there. I will, of course, keep her memory alive. Her little brother will know all about her, will visit her grave with us, she will become part of him as much as she is part of us. She is his big sister and I will never let anyone forget about her, but after I’m gone who’s to say my children will keep her memory alive? Will she just fade into the past? A part of his childhood that didn’t really exist? She will have a gravestone, her name hewn into granite, and that will last, but people won’t know who she was, that she was loved so deeply. They can’t trace her anywhere, her gravestone will be a dead end, not a key to her life. That thought terrifies me, but I don’t know how to stop her memory fading away from the world.

I feel like screaming to the world “HER NAME WAS EFFY-MAE, SHE WAS MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER AND SHE DID EXIST.”

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  1. I know exactly how you feel it seems so cruel that despite the fact they were born in records etc they dont exist they are just marked in medical records like an illness. But we just have to work hard and it sounds like you are doing an amazing job if keeping Effy-Mae’s memory alive for her. Sending you many hugs xx

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  • An 'Angel Baby' is a baby lost during pregnancy or early childhood, who sleeps in the clouds instead of our arms.

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