When Rachel and Christian Duschenes lost their baby daughter, no one, including the couple themselves, knew what had happened.
Some 35 weeks pregnant, Rachel felt ill, decided not to go to work and didn’t even really notice that the baby inside her wasn’t moving around until her husband asked if it was just one of those days where the baby was upsetting her stomach.
“I said: ‘Actually, no.’ And started trying all the things you do to get the baby to move. When nothing happened, that’s when we went into the hospital,” she said.
It was a Tuesday evening in the later half of August. The doctors ran some tests and by the time they told the couple the baby, Kaela, had passed away, and Rachel would need to be induced, the first-time mom says her mind had just checked out.
From there on, her body just went through the motions.
The couple had an autopsy done and several tests on Rachel, but no explanation was ever found. The baby was healthy. Her mother was healthy. She simply never made it to term.
“I think that was the darkest, most awful time of my life. There’s nothing you can even really think to do for the next time,” said Rachel.
Almost four years later, with a toddler son and a new baby girl in their family, Rachel says thinking of Kaela is still part of her daily routine. A hospital social worker referred the family to The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents, and they did attend meetings for a while; as their situation is slightly different than many of the other parents’ whose children lived, many to adulthood, attending the meetings eventually didn’t fit.
But twice a year the Duschenes can remember Kaela’s life at brevity ceremonies, held for those who have lost a child.
The Compassionate Friends, Kelowna chapter will be holding its eighth annual Brevity Memorial Dedication Ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m. at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
The ceremony is to celebrate the children, siblings and grandchildren who have died before their families.
The group reads out the names of children being added to the memorial wall in the cemetery and the names of the children of those who are there to celebrate and remember them.
If you would like to take part, please RSVP with the number of people who will be attending along with the name of the child, sibling or grandchild to be read out during the ceremony, to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Glen or Linda Woods at 250-807-2487 before May 6.