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.