When friends lose their babies

On this side of the fence, the grass is crinkly, brown and dead. It’s spread out over a vast space in irregular,  ugly little patches. The flowers are wilted if there were any in the first place. It’s raining, and tall, gloomy trees cast ominous shadows over everything. Surrounding you are deep, dark caves. It’s not pretty, but it’s safe. Nothing can hurt us here because we’ve already experienced the worst scares and the worst pain life can dish out.

(The chorus of this song doesn’t fit well here: “What kind of paradise am I looking for? I’ve got everything I want, but still I want more.” Fuck that. We want our babies. But the rest of the song is very fitting.)

We don’t climb over the fence from happy expectation to the field of bereavement by choice. We’re catapulted and find ourselves in an unknown land, disoriented, with sparks of well-meaning encouragement flung at us from people standing in a sunny field who have a very detached, vague concept, but can’t see where we’re standing and what’s surrounding us. (I try to dodge these sparks, because they mean nothing, unless they’re gently handed to me from people not in a rush to make me feel better, and are there to actually understand and comfort.)

There’s thousands upon thousands of us standing in places like this. And when our friends join us, it’s not a happy occasion. It makes us tear up the dead grass, fling it at the sky, and fill the air with cries of “WHY? WHY THEM? WHY NOW? WHY THIS WAY?”

It’s ridiculous, impossible, and unfathomable how many pregnancies fail. Twenty-five per cent of them, actually. I guaran-frigging-tee you know a good handful of people who have lost a baby, an infant, or can’t conceive. They may not let you know about it, but the next time you’re with a group of people, look around you, and just assume (without saying anything, of course), that 25% of those  present have had life, dreams, desires and hope ripped from them, tragically.

When a friend joins this side of the fence because they had to say goodbye to their precious, perfect and enormously loved child, no matter what stage of development they were in, it takes everything in me not to fling myself to them and smother them with the things that helped me inch forward in the days following my own loss. But that would be really a really dumb thing to do. Grief is a slow drip, and it’s not my job to gather the evidence of pain to show I understand. I’d be a fool to do that. Only they understand what they’re going through. I went through my own loss, and only I know what that was like. Now is a time to listen and listen and listen and love. That’s all.

Image courtesy of wallpaperstock.net

Image courtesy of wallpaperstock.net

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My take on Mother’s Day this year

Duh, I’m a mom.

My son is dead, but I’m still a mom.

No one but my partner and hospital staff met Henry, but he’s real. He existed. Exists still. And me made me a mother. As did my step-son.

Hearing Happy Mother’s Day this year will be painful, but it will me more painful to not be included in the grand sisterhood of moms being celebrated this Sunday. I’m in your club, but a different chapter. Don’t skip over my pages, or the other thick chapters of moms missing their angels this year (and every day, frankly). Please include us in your wishes this mother’s day.

Yes, this is Mother

 

My child may be dead, but I am a mother. So, mother’s day and all that – yep, I count. I nurtured and delivered a whole human. My water broke, then the placenta was delivered, and in between was a beautiful, delicate little boy after a few hours of contractions. And I’ve been a step-parent for over six years, so I’ve earned my stipes.

Some of the most well-meaning and insensitive things have been said to me since losing my son last fall. And they usually come from the mouths of people who do love me, which makes it all the more awkward and difficult to point out.

One dear friend who I was speaking with about trying again someday for another baby said, endearingly, something like “so you’ll finally get to know what it’s like to be a mother.” I corrected them and was pretty straightforward about it, but it inspired me to make this PSA. And it’s just something to remember when speaking with someone who has lost a child.

Image courtesy of https://i1.wp.com/www.littleangelsonlinestore.com/Store/prodimages/11276.jpg

Our children stay with us, whether they’re alive or were taken from us. And we’re constantly thinking of them. Not having them counted amongst our living, or yet-to-be born children, is painful. Much like my worries about Henry being forgotten around the holidays, and much like the fears (hopefully unfounded) about actually having another child someday and hearing that same sentiment, of “finally” being a mom.

Henry has given me the gift of being a mother to my own biological child, and my step-son has hurled me into the realm of parenthood. It’d be a mouthful to say this to someone in passing, so I’d likely hum a smile in response to questions about my children. But please be aware when asking people about their kids that you never know what heartache  and trauma someone may have, or is experiencing.