Because I Can’t Seem to NOT Write About It

I’m (once again) all jumbled up inside. I’ve got so many things I want to write about and now that I’ve got the time to focus (the boys are having breakfast with Mommy) all I can think about is the thing I don’t want to write about. The thing I fear (know?) is not mine to write about. But…. it won’t go away and that has to mean something. I’m going to trust it.

This is about the loss of a child. Please don’t continue if this isn’t something you’re up for today.

As a member of this blogging community I’m not a complete stranger to child loss. Those of you who have walked this path and made the choice to share your experiences have truly graced us with your stories. I have read your words and in the reading I’ve cried along with you. As real as I know that connection to be, it cannot erase the physical fact of distance. I heard your words, but I wasn’t holding your hand as you spoke them.

That changed a few days ago.

A member of my Moms group and a woman who chases kids around my living room every Friday morning lost her baby this week. Her routine 20 week ultrasound revealed that her baby’s heart had stopped beating. The morning that she and her husband had been looking forward to for weeks morphed into almost 48 hours of forced letting go. By the time she arrived at my house to pick up her daughter (this baby was to be their 2nd) her voice was shaky, but she needed to speak.

She was admitted to the hospital and induced. She labored in ways that were both the same and wholly different from her labor with her daughter. The doctors told her not to push. She delivered a tiny, perfect baby boy. They were asked to make decisions about his remains. She and her husband held him and spoke his name. They told him about his family. About his big sister and their family dog and cat. They kept holding him. She wrapped him in the hospital nursery blankets and asked her husband to place him in the crib. Then they left the room and the hospital without him.

She’s home now with a body that has given birth to a baby that can’t be nurtured. Her milk is in, but her only child is long weaned. Postpartum hormones are making all of it worse. Her husband could only manage one day home from work.

Here is what I learned from her.

  • She lost her child. Her son. Her second born. She didn’t lose a pregnancy and she didn’t have a 2nd trimester loss. While those things are technically true, they skate around the emotional heart of the matter. Although the mechanisms may be different, this birth will shape her life and the life of her family in ways that are no less significant or far-reaching then the live birth of her daughter.
  • The birth of a healthy baby is dependent on the precise unfolding of a myriad series of possible outcomes. No matter what you believe about god or the universe, the birth of a baby is a miracle. It is an impossible, unimaginable miracle.
  • Pain is pain. It honors no dividing lines. Greater than or lesser than have no meaning. It’s universal.

I think what I really want to say to you who have lost children is thank you. Thank you for trusting this community with your stories. With your children. We won’t forget them.

If anyone has thoughts about how to support a family dealing with this kind of loss I would love to hear them. I want to help my friend, but I’m not sure about the how of it. For now, I’m staying in close touch and listening, but any suggestions would be very welcome.

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6 thoughts on “Because I Can’t Seem to NOT Write About It

  1. Listening and being there for her is the best thing by far, which you are already doing. Being with her and there in her pain. I just cried reading this, and it breaks my heart when I read about so many people that have lost a baby recently.

  2. Okay and now the long comment…my advice is to keep listening and asking how she is and if she wants to talk. I have one friend, my best friend who lives in another country but we are very close and she had a son one week before our first was due. She has kept listening. It’s year this week since our first was due and she’s still checking in with me. No one else of all of my beloved and very close and open family or friends do. They tread carefully around me, and are very supportive if they see me upset, but they never broach the topic. I don’t want to be the one that always brings it up, but I do still want to talk about my babies. It’s as though people worry they will upset or remind you of your loss. But of course we don’t forget. On special family occasions like Christmas I can feel the aching space where our child should be. 1 week older than the other grandchild, celebrating its 1st Christmas last year, enjoying a double 1st birthday with its cousin this weekend. But no one mentions this, no one says even quietly off to one side, ‘oh this must be hard’. So my advice would be to assume that on those occasions and on anniversaries such as the loss date, the due date, one month after the due date, the 1st anniversary etc that they will remember. So acknowledge their loss on those days. Even just a message saying ‘thinking of you today’ will be enough for your friend to know you remember. If you feel she’s struggling, a card or some chocolate or any small caring gift will remind her that someone else notices her struggles and cares. Honestly, knowing that someone else remembers is such a huge thing.

  3. These words are the most I’ve ever felt understood in this: “She lost her child. Her son. Her second born. She didn’t lose a pregnancy and she didn’t have a 2nd trimester loss. While those things are technically true, they skate around the emotional heart of the matter. Although the mechanisms may be different, this birth will shape her life and the life of her family in ways that are no less significant or far-reaching then the live birth of her daughter.” You don’t need advice on how to do this. And you HAVE been there holding our hands in spite of the miles. And it IS yours to write about because you’re brave enough to walk with loss and carry it alongside others. That makes a piece of it yours, which means there’s one less piece of it for others to carry, which is everything. This is a beautiful post. It means more than I can say.

  4. .rlg above said everything that I wanted to. One of the most difficult things I have found about my miscarriage is the indirectly hurtful things people say or don’t say. I’m amazed how few people are able to take a step back and be empathic. If you’ve never experienced this kind of loss, it’s hard to express how deep the grief runs. But having people like you in your friend’s life makes everything easier to bear. You don’t need wisdom, because you get it. Thank you for lending your support to your friend, and your voice to our community xo

  5. Pingback: ten thousand things | .breaking into blossom.

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