This is not one of our usual posts and it is a sad one. If you aren’t up to it then move along, our regular blogging will resume. But over here we do blog about our “life and times” and sometimes life is sad. I really needed to write about this before time passes and I lose momentum… I wrote this post for two kinds of readers – those who have friends that lose a baby during pregnancy and you would like to support them, and especially those who have lost a baby and are looking for folk who have been through the same.
It has been a little quiet over here, it is not just the freezing weather or the fact that everybody came down with colds… but this week was the week that our baby, that we lost so suddenly a couple of months back, would have been born…
So last night we had waffles for supper, it is our tradition to have waffles for big and glorious family events… and it is how we celebrate new arrivals. We weren’t celebrating a new arrival but rather the day we should have celebrated a new arrival. Hearts were incredibly heavy in our home… and we needed a celebration. Hard to imagine a celebration, but while I have been devastated at the loss, I am so grateful for the very short time that this little life was with us.
Little loving letters have been arriving on my desk, from siblings, for weeks… little gifts. And yet my children haven’t spoken much about it… nobody has. But my children have been incredibly gentle with their mum… they know before I do what will make me cry and they do gather round. Sunday morning and hymns… oh my heart, I cry and cry every week. There is one hymn we sing at church so often and I make it through the first verse, but never through the third… and to be sure one of my teens will pass a hug down the line, a little hand will creep into mine… they sure do know how to protect their mother’s heart.
There is a higher throne
Than all this world has known,
Where faithful ones from ev’ry tongue
Will one day come.
Before the Son we’ll stand,
Made faultless through the Lamb;
Believing hearts find promised grace—
Hear heaven’s voices sing;
Their thund’rous anthem rings
Through em’rald courts and sapphire skies.
Their praises rise.
All glory, wisdom, pow’r,
Strength, thanks, and honor are
To God our King, who reigns on high
And there we’ll find our home,
Our life before the throne;
We’ll honor Him in perfect song
Where we belong.
He’ll wipe each tear-stained eye
As thirst and hunger die.
The Lamb becomes our Shepherd King;
We’ll reign with Him.
In this strange world where children are so protected, they are really not included in big life events… I can’t bring myself to leave my kids to cope or conquer their feelings on their own. I do talk to them about it and I do hang out in a quiet spot and talk about their littlest sibling. Some of them are delightfully silly and some of them are more like me, just kind of heavy hearted. But we did need to have a whole family event. To talk about baby things, especially our baby that we never got to hold. We spoke about those few months that were filled with so much excitement, hopes and dreams. And we spoke about that feisty spirit, this babe that always made it’s presence felt during incredibly stormy weather.
I have said it before and I will say it again, not a lot is written for folk that have traveled down this precarious path, and certainly not a whole lot for fathers and even less for siblings. We have to find our own way forward. Losing a baby is a family tragedy. And I really want our children to grow up feeling positively about their littlest sibling. Yes, it has made me a sadder more distracted mama than usual… but they have also had a peep into my world and seen first hand how much this mother loves her children. It was good for all of us to talk out loud together and to start a tradition, a dinner of waffles to celebrate the little life of Hood #9 each year.
se7en + 1 Things We have Learnt
- I have learnt that my faith is of the flimsy kind… I am not one of those women that you read about in christian biographies who fearlessly and relentlessly continued to follow their husbands into wild unknown places, all the while losing their children to strange tropical diseases. These were indeed noblewomen and I admire them for their bravery and much as I would like to be so amazingly strong, I am a lot frailer.
- There are so many things I have learnt about losing a love in the past couple of months… People that say time heals could be mistaken, I will get back to you on that. Honestly I think we get better at saying “we are fine.” The physical pain of losing a little life so close to your heart is very real, very painful and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Despite that, you are able to live, breathe, laugh, play and all that, and be part of the grand scheme of life. People with new babies, that know about our baby, are a little bit nervous around me. While I am not keen to head for baby showers anytime soon, I never was. I am still the same person who is able to put your newborn to sleep – I have a talent for it. And because we have lost a baby doesn’t mean that I want to hide away from new moms or their babies at all.
- I have learnt that losing a baby is not your typical grief, you can’t talk about it to even your closest friends… it is an invisible pain. Most folk have a time frame after which you should have “gotten over it” and what they don’t realise is that while the body takes a fair while to recover from any pregnancy, let alone an abruptly ended pregnancy… the heart can take ever so much longer.
- I have learnt from best friends all over the world that there is indeed a sisterhood of women who have been through this, there is an invisible ticket to the loneliest club on earth… the club where the friends that have been through it still can’t talk about it years later and friends that haven’t been through it, who just cannot get past the “matter-of-factness.”
- I think for many women this is a wound that just cannot heal, there is not a place for them to talk about their feelings. In most other grieving situations there is something tangible to grieve about, but when you lose a baby in the first half of a pregnancy it is as if the whole world cannot understand how many hopes and dreams were carried with that little person. It is comforting to know how many women have been through this, but you will not know about them until it happens to you… because it is the unspoken pain.
- Day to day living is fine, until someone asks oh so blithely, “Is eight enough?” and all my children cringe but none of them say out-loud what they are thinking… “They are a gang of nine not eight…” I have to say children are a tricky situation, people don’t know how much children know and they don’t really want to talk to children about it. Nobody outside of our own family, neither friends or extended family, have spoken about the loss of a baby within hearing of our children at all. It is indeed a taboo topic that is just too awkward to bring up with kids. Folk outside of our family are definitely training my children to talk about “anything else.” I have always held that a good response to a grieving friend, especially when you feel pain with them, is to be direct and say how sorry you are. My kids have been always been taught this, but they have learnt that “it doesn’t flow both ways.”
- If folk don’t want to talk to children about the loss of a baby, they certainly don’t want to engage with fathers. So many folk have asked the father person, “How is your wife doing?” But they don’t ask how he is doing. I know I have found it hard to talk about with other moms, I can assure you that fathers are not talking about it all. I have to say we have talked about it together a lot, he alone understands my sadness, my disappointment… because as a Dad he has pride and hopes and dreams attached to his children too. Considering how hard it has been for me to talk to friends, and I can talk about anything… I am not surprised that men-folk find it so hard to talk about it between each other.
- I have learnt to take things slower, sleep more, ponder more and blog a whole lot less. My creativity might have completely fallen off the bus, and our garden is non-existent. But that has happened eight times before and I know that I will regain momentum and the projects will roll. Where I have felt best is in the great outdoors… housework really can wait, projects don’t have to be done just because you started them. Somehow getting outdoors and walking and walking has helped me tremendously. Battling up mountains with my children has helped us all tremendously, I am no longer their school teacher or their coach, but I am with them alongside them – getting tired, getting thirsty, wanting to give up and then keep on going. Together we have done this and it has helped to heal our hearts together.
And the se7en+ 1th