Mormon Channel Blog

Motherhood: Becoming a Mother Through Loss

May 28, 2015

A little over a year ago, Neena Andersen Earl lost her sweet newborn baby girl, Indira, to some health complications. Through this incredible hardship, she feels that the Lord was able to strengthen her and further prepare her to be a mother. She shares her thoughts and faith with us here.

After close to two years of marriage, my husband Andy and I discovered we were pregnant. Andy was definitely a little nervous for a girl but soon started to envision plopping her in a hiking backpack and taking her out into the backcountry for hiking, climbing, and fishing. It’s amazing how quickly you can start placing this child in your life, seeing how she will fit into your daily activities and hobbies. We were nervous but so incredibly excited to bring her into our world. She was the first grandchild on both sides, so she was a highly anticipated child.

Because of past health issues with an autoimmune disease, I’d always had a feeling that pregnancy would be hard on me. I was surprised that everything felt so good, so average. At week 33 I became very, very itchy all over my body, especially my face, hands, and feet. Not knowing what to make of it, I waited until my next appointment. We told our OB and he told us that I might have a problem with my liver. A few days later, at 35 weeks, I was told I had intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. My liver was malfunctioning, causing bile to back up into my bloodstream, which, on average, can be fatal to a baby after 37 weeks. The next day, February 5, 2014, I felt uneasy. Something didn’t feel right. I went to labor and delivery and soon found myself with a doctor pointing to an image on the ultrasound. The words “See this, this is her heart and it’s not beating” came out of his mouth.

I still can’t seem to find the words that would grasp the feeling of that moment in my life. We were completely and utterly broken, in the depths of despair. Nothing seemed right, and I felt that I would never feel right again. My world was literally crumbling around me and I had absolutely no control.

The next day, February 6, our little Indira Usha Earl was born at 4:57 p.m. The only way that I can describe the feeling that was felt for the next 26 hours was that our hospital room was a love bubble. Her spirit and the Spirit were so present that all I felt was peace, love, and happiness. I was happy to hold her, happy to see her, and happy to be with her. We felt joy.

The impending days, weeks, and months were a different story than what was felt in that room. The peace and love and happiness came and went and were felt off and on—mostly replaced by confusion, anger, and, at times, denial. It was very important to us that we moved with the ebb and flow of our grief wherever it took us. When you’re in that grief, sometimes it’s hard to think clearly through the pain. Then there was the actual physical pain of my body healing itself after pregnancy and delivery. At times it seemed too much to bear.

We did come out of the depths of our despair. We did overcome the anger. We still have our moments, but that’s to be expected. Looking back now, all I can say is I am grateful for the love and willingness to bear up our burdens that our friends and family have shown to us. I am grateful for Andy, for the stability of his love for me and for Indi. And I am grateful for Indira. She gave her whole tiny life to us, her whole heart, her whole spirit. She has made me a better person. Because of her, the celestial kingdom and the Atonement seem much more tangible and real. Because of her, I have more purpose and more passion to become a better person, to become the person I need to be to be able to be reunited with her perfect spirit in the next life. Somehow Heavenly Father thought we were worthy of her; now I need to prove to Him that I am.

Now, after another failed pregnancy in October, we found out that I also have antiphospholipid syndrome, which is a blood-clotting problem I get while pregnant. With the cholestasis and the syndrome in check and with a team of fantastic doctors, we are on the road to a happy and healthy baby boy due in August! Life is full of expectations and anticipations, and oftentimes those expectations don’t turn out how we thought they would. We learn to go with the ebb and flow and know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us, that He loves us and is aware of our burdens, no matter how light or heavy they may be.