I know it is Christmas time and not the time that anyone wants to read about losing a baby. You can leave this post unread, put it aside if you don’t need it. I am really writing this post, before time travels on and I forget the details about things that have helped us. This is the post is really for two kinds of readers – those who want to help a friend when she loses a baby… you will have that friend. And those readers who go through the same experience as we did – I want you to know that there are things that help – they may be different things to the things that have helped us… but there are things that help.
It has been a month since we lost our little one, a month since our surprise pregnancy ended way too abruptly. I know to the minute how far along our pregnancy would have been. And in a sense I have learnt nothing new under the sun… I know it hurts to have loved and lost, and I have had friends enough in the same situation as we have been, who we have stood alongside. I know and understand that we all carry the burden of all sorts of pain within our hearts and life looks fine on the surface.
And yet in this past month I feel as if I have relearnt my whole life… and like a new person, I am starting over. I can see the feelings I am meant to have but I am relearning them. My joie de vivre seems to be an emotion really slow to emerge, basically it’s gone for now. I am okay with that. My natural optimism re-emerges unrelentingly – that is who I am. But the sadness… oh my, it does run deep. Of all the folk that have shared their own experiences, I have discovered it is not a handful of friends that we have stood by that have experienced this… but literally dozens and dozens. Shocking… but true. And yet there is almost nothing written about it at all…
Any medical professional would consider me to be blessed with good health and physically fine, and they are right, I guess. I have to say that in every book on pregnancy, there is not much to tell you about a pregnancy that ends suddenly and without warning… there may be a furtive chapter near the end or a two page appendix to call your medical practitioner if you experience cramps… Ho hum… nobody warns you and I don’t know why I didn’t expect it at all – but your body has been pregnant – there are hormones spinning around. There will be three day blues, that I always get on the second day anyway. There will the usual post-pregnancy hormone soup, only there is no babe in your arms to counter-act the craziness… lets just say a bereft and hormonal mess – expect it. I didn’t, but it does pass and physically you will start to feel better. So when friends that are normally kind and gentle, say things that are right up their “in ruining a friendship” it may not be your friend so much as your reaction to what they said. Friends should know this about you, you aren’t just grieving you are post-pregnant precarious as well, but how can they know, nobody talks about it… I know many folks that say – their body takes at least a year to recover from a typical pregnancy… well I have been pregnant, my body knows it and is recovering.
Se7en + 1 Things That Really Helped
There isn’t a lot folk can do to help you in the whole post pregnancy thing of it all… but there is a lot they can do to help your heart. There were things that I never expected to help that really did help. Unprecedented kindness and thoughtful friends…
- Literally dozens and dozens of comments and emails from dear dear friends all over the world… and the one friend that mentioned that with so many friends throughout the world I could count on somebody to be thinking of us 24/7. It is good to know you are not alone. Reassurance from so many many many of our friends and readers who have been through the same thing. My biggest worry was that I would forget the few things that were merely passing ideas in our heads… that potential name, that possible date of birth. Every single person that told me that they had been through this too. The one thing they all said… you will never forget. And that helped. My biggest fear was addressed time and time again.
- A missionary friend who lives in the middle of nowhere immediately messaged a Bible verse – straight to my heart: Proverbs 13:12 A hope deferred makes the heart sick…
- A friend who phoned and said, I am standing at your gate with your dinner… Independent me had no chance to say, “Not to worry we are doing great.” I know when folks have a baby or they are ill, you often take them a snack or dinner… just do the same. Just take them dinner, some folks asked if we needed dinner and I had no idea if we did… I was in no space to make any decisions, let alone dinner decisions. This is the time to allow your friends to do the good works that God has prepared in advance for them (Ephesians 2:10).
- Another friend who sent us a gift – just delivered to the gate. At a time when I really wasn’t ready to face the world, I needed a pajama day on the couch and it was lovely to know that someone was thinking of us. That was lovely and perfect and I will always appreciate it.
- Friends that told me that I had helped them years before… and how I had helped them. Honestly, I never remember my own advice but it was so good to hear that I had helped them… and how!!!
- I really appreciated all the people that came past me and said they were sorry – I know it is awkward. But I really appreciated it. It is harder to talk to folk about anything, when you know that they know what has happened and they say nothing at all… than those who awkwardly say: “I’m sorry” or just give you a hug and move on. A little thing like that can make the world of difference. I think folk are afraid you are going to cry… well when friends I met stopped and said sorry, I often did cry. Tears are not the end of the world, really!!! Pity the young lady in church, who turned round to ask if I was okay, because I wasn’t singing… I was not okay!!! She made it through admirably and I will always be grateful for her young shoulder to cry on.
- The friends who knew that I was deeply sad and did something… nothing huge, they didn’t spend weeks thinking about it or plot and plan and ponder what to do. They just came over to play with my guys and be silly with them. Our kids need food and clean clothing and bedtime stories and they get that… but they also need a whole lot of fun and I really needed help with providing that. Talk about the least un-fun-mother on earth… and the sweetest children on earth, who were happy to just lie on the couch and be gentle with their mother.
- We had nothing tangible to remember this babe by, just an idea for a name and of course heaps of hopes and dreams… but what else… what else… nothing. I really needed something tangible… but at a couple of months pregnant we didn’t have anything… no first outfit waiting, no special toy, not even a pack of new born diapers in anticipation. Just nothing. Never underestimate the power of a printed note, cards have been saved in a box and all our readers comments printed out… a friend sent us a beautiful letter… we popped all these into a little box and we have all browsed through it again and again… special!!!
And the se7en + 1 th thing…
What I’ve learnt – anything is better than nothing, no matter how awkward you feel… do something, say something. Nothing you do will fix the pain and you can’t make it all just go away, there will always be that terrible gap. That being said, there is so much we can do to ease a friend who is learning to live with this. When I hear of a friend who has lost a baby however old it is, I will do something. Being an ear to hear helps, giving them something to hold on too – a note or a card, might not mean a lot to them right now, but it will give them something tangible for later. The biggest help was really from those who did something, no matter how small… the friend that said: ” I am thinking of you,” the folk that I really hardly know at all that said they were praying for our family… Even though you want to be alone, you do want to know that you are not all alone. The smallest action by loving friends, does indeed help and encourage a mother who is in the midst of this.