Did you know babies can die? You can spend ten plus months nurturing and providing life for your baby and they can die. You can have tests, ultrasounds, consults, experienced obstetricians or midwives and your baby can still never take a breath on this Earth. Whose fault is this? Who can I blame? How can I fix this?
Your baby is still gone. You must still live. You must still love.
When my husband and I realized we were expecting our third child, we were filled with love and also anxiety. I was nursing our thirteen month old son and all of those snide remarks I thought to myself about women having babies close together rang loud and clear with a big slap of “ha ha” across my face. So, I did what every other mother in the history of the world has done, I refused to feel sorry for myself and went to work on this pregnancy.
This was my easiest pregnancy yet. I knew intuitively I was carrying our daughter. I interacted with her as if she were already in my arms. I loved her. Correction: I love her, present tense. I have two sons and was elated to finally have a daughter to share with the secrets of women.
Every pregnancy, every mother is carrying her child, her future. She has re-planned her life around that child. Every decision she makes is for the betterment of her family and includes her newest child who just has yet to be placed in her arms. The morning I confirmed our daughter had passed in my womb has been welded into my soul. I screamed. I cried. I clawed my stomach.
How did this perfect pregnancy end in tragedy? Where was God? There is no God, I hate God. My mind raced with emotion.
Three days after my daughter’s funeral, I came across a blog article that used the death of my daughter as a commodity for their own profit and beliefs. The author dangled me in their coliseum of propaganda for the ravenous dog followers to salivate and gnaw on my pain while blaming my care provider and I for her death. The worst part? I am not the only woman to be used by this author and emotionally stoned. That hatred must end. Do not fret, it will.
This is a private journal entry four weeks after her death and truly captured my state of mind while under the dark veil of grief:
”There is a darkness that surrounds a mother who has lost a child. It is not evil. It is not God. It is pain, physical pain. I do not think one believes they are depressed when they truly are. How would you know? Who wakes in the morning and says, “Yep, I am depressed.” I am in such pain that it hurts to breathe and there is an ache in my stomach that will not go away. I drink to excess and eat when I can. I am heavy with the weight of a dead child. I carried her for forty-one weeks; I felt the sciatic nerve pain and my back ached with the love of a mother. I want to be better; I want to feel whole again. I want to be a good wife and mother. I want to be a woman who loves and trusts and feels happy. How does that happen? How do you go one day from pain to another day happy?”
I have found women to be awkward around me since her death. I am sure most do not know what to say to a mother who has lost a child.
Here is my advice:
1. Give her a hug and ask her if she needs to talk. If she has nothing to say,ask again in a few days, she will have forgotten your offer by then.
2. Don’t say, “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” She will not call you. Go to her house, do her dishes, wash her clothes and make sure she has taken a shower.
3. Help her brush her hair.
Some mothers need to birth another child right away and some mothers will wait. Neither choice is to be judged. When a child is born after a previous loss, that child is referred to as a “Rainbow Baby“. The term can take on many different meanings from a cute phrase to a deep spiritual connection to one’s creator. I like to think of it as a symbolic reference that even though there was a horrible storm, a light shone through and created beauty. This does not mean the mother is “over” her lost child, rather the sting on her womb has receded to a scar of life, merely faded, not erased.
Somewhere around 1 in 4 women (depending on a variety of statistics) will experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, so the odds are good that you or someone in your circle of influence will feel this pain. I would hope that you are able to either lend a helping hand or offer words of encouragement and hope, less this woman falls too far in despair to be pulled up again. When that same woman shares she is carrying another child, let her be scared. She will never pass a “safe” week, she has lost her innocence. Call her. Give her space. If she needs to talk, listen to her.
Above all else, let her be.
The picture is of this mother’s sweet baby’s feet. Just a reminder that no matter how small you are, your impact can be immeasurable.
*Blog post was written by BWF mother. She runs a private support group for women who have lost a child. If you need the support of this group, email us through the Contact Page and we will make sure you get connected.