Debra Kilby had to make the most difficult decision imaginable, but the healing process led her on a voyage of self-discovery

This is photo of Debra sat on a tree branch with her two sons

I am sitting here with a sense of disbelief and trepidation at what I am about to say, but I feel it’s the right thing to do. The following statement is what I believe in the depths of my soul. It’s a declaration that may seem shocking – I felt the same when these words first came out of my mouth – but please stay with me.

Losing my daughter, Rosa, at 16 weeks of pregnancy has been the greatest gift I have ever received.

At the time, of course, this was as far from what I was feeling as you can possibly imagine. Because the full story is that I didn’t lose Rosa by some dreadful accident, or unexplainable miscarriage. I chose to release her. And it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, or wish to make ever again.

Rosa’s story starts in August 2010 when my husband and I found out we were expecting. This was the fourth time we had become pregnant since being blessed with our son, Max, in 2007. Between 2007 and 2009, we lived through three miscarriages. Surely this one would be okay.

Being pregnant with Max was easy, fun and exciting. But his birth was not what I had expected, and because of the shock and fear I experienced, it also affected how I felt about being a mum.

However, nine months into motherhood and with the traumas nicely buried away, we fell pregnant again. This baby news was something of a surprise but welcomed, and we felt we could conquer all practicalities. Also, wasn’t it great that they would be so close in age?

The hospital phoned with the results of the tests and my heart broke. How could this be happening to me? What had I done to deserve this pain?

However, a week before the 12-week scan, I started to bleed. The bleeding didn’t stop and eventually I was rushed into hospital. That was my first experience of miscarriage, and the overwhelming helplessness and loss of my little one.

I picked myself up relatively quickly, quoting all sorts of statistics about how one in four women lose their babies, or how before pregnancy testing was invented, women didn’t even know they were pregnant and that miscarriages were normal and you just got on with life. I didn’t ask for help and I didn’t allow myself the time or the space to grieve and acknowledge my hurt and disappointment.

Over the next two years, I conceived easily, but they didn’t stay longer than eight and 12 weeks. By this time my heart had closed, but I wasn’t aware of the effect of all this loss because I didn’t allow myself to feel it.

And then along came Rosa.

I was both excited and terrified of how this pregnancy would go. I did have some bleeding at nine weeks into the pregnancy and was rushed to the hospital for a scan – but, thank goodness, all was well with her little heart beating away. The bleeding stopped.

Then I had the strangest experience. One night when I was reading in bed I heard these words coming from outside of myself – ‘Mummy, I’m sick’. My husband and I put it down to the obvious fear I was experiencing because of our last three miscarriages. But somehow I knew that something was very wrong.

After a number of incidents, my fears were finally confirmed medically. Rosa wasn’t developing as she should be, due to genetic complications. I was told Rosa was unlikely to make it to full-term, and if she did there was no idea what quality of life she would enjoy.

This is photo of Debra and her family by the sea

The hospital phoned me with the results of the tests and my heart and my world broke. How could this possibly be happening to me? What had I ever done to deserve this pain?

Not only would I have to potentially endure the loss of yet another much-wanted baby, but this time it was at a stage where I would have to experience birth. Then again, if she survived, what would her life be like? What would our life be like? I’d just turned 40. What if she did survive but needed looking after? Would that eventually fall to Max as we got older? How would we cope as a family?

The previous miscarriages were taken out of my control. This was a whole other level – I had to make a choice, together with my husband, but ultimately it felt like mine. I can safely say from that moment on, I didn’t believe I was present in the world.

I can barely remember the next few days. When the midwife gave me the pill that would end her life I wanted to throw up and curl into a ball and die with her. But life has a way of keeping you going, and for me that was our beautiful Max and the love of my wonderful husband.

The birth is a blur but I can recall the physical and emotional pain as my husband and I said hello and goodbye to her. We knew then it was a girl.

I shut down. I didn’t want to know. I told myself it was just something that happened and to get on with it. But I wasn’t really there. The hospital said they arranged funerals for babies and my immediate reaction was no, she wasn’t a baby. It’s shocking at how much I tried to deny this experience, but we don’t act sanely in these moments.

I am forever grateful for our beautiful daughter Rosa. Through the choice I made, she gave me back myself

Eventually, I started to wonder more about Rosa. Why? And why me? Where is she? And who is she? How am I ever going to come through this? With the most amazing support from the charity Antenatal Results and Choices, eventually we chose to go ahead with the funeral. It was the most beautiful, poignant moment and the start of my healing.

As I was sitting in the garden afterwards, I allowed myself to see how I was truly feeling for the first time since that very first miscarriage. The loss, the sense of being a victim, being a failure, being undeserving of any joy, being a terrible, if not evil person. The deep shame about the choice I’d made was so intense that I hadn’t told anyone except for close family and a handful of friends.

Most of all, I felt an overwhelming bitterness. I’d see a pregnant woman and really try to feel happy for her, but what about me? Why them and not me? This was the feeling I loathed the most as it felt against my very nature. ‘This isn’t me,’ I thought.
And then it struck me – who is this ‘me’ who doesn’t want to be bitter and angry and sad and closed off? It was then I went on a journey to find that ‘me’, not the person with all these negative emotions created by layers of life, but the real ‘me’ – the one who is loving, happy and adventurous, and believes in miracles and possibilities.

This is why I am forever grateful for our beautiful Rosa. Through the choice I made, she gave me back myself. And my whole world has changed beyond my imagination.

This is photo of Debra playing in a park playground with her sons

At 42, I gave birth happily and easily to another gorgeous boy, Samuel. I thought I may need counselling throughout the pregnancy but I didn’t. I just knew deep down that all was well. By addressing and clearing my experiences through energy healing practices, and ultimately forgiving myself, I knew he was meant to be. He is my miracle.

Today, it is my utmost passion to help others realise that they do not need to be defined by their experience, no matter how bad they feel about it. Nor do they need to feel stuck in their emotions. Indeed, on the whole, I’m discovering there is always a much bigger picture behind baby loss. There are many gentle and beautiful ways to feel whole and at peace with yourself, your life and your choices.

I am now a spiritual guide and energy healer. I help people release the traumas that are thrown at us. I help them understand their experiences at a deeper level and gently guide them to reconnect with themselves and see the powerful, exquisite and unique beings they are. If you are ready to transform the way you experience this game of life, please reach out.

Debra Kilby is a spiritual guide and energy therapist, qualified in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Her passion is to empower people to recognise their own healing potential and guide them towards clarity and resolution.

If you have been affected by this story, and would like to speak to a professional, contact Counselling Directory or Therapy Directory to find a qualified expert in your area.