This is not one of our usual posts but over here we do blog about our “life and times” and sometimes life is sad. I really needed to write this post for two kinds of readers – those who have friends that Lose a Baby During Pregnancy and You Would Like to Help Them, and especially those who have lost a baby and are looking for folk who have been through the same.
To be honest I never expected to write this post, I was just quietly minding my own business and getting ready for a Bible verse of the week post… and the verse that came to mind was Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” This past week was a particularly difficult week for us, the week that we might have celebrated a first birthday of a feisty little babe… we didn’t though. This little person that always presented huge and crazy stormy weather certainly provided us with some of that as rain poured down and the wind howled about us. I have to say that a year on, since our little one should have been born… we are slightly better at it. Better at talking about this small person together, better at living alongside that gap. The thing is, as a family we know what we are missing, we all know what a little one year old is like, and the loss is tangible.
Turns out that losing a baby is a bit of a journey, for yourself, for your family and for the people around you. Initially so many folk ask you how you are doing, and you know they want you to say that you are “just fine thanks;” time moves on and folk start to think you should be doing okay, so more folk ask how you are doing. Of course you aren’t doing great, it is awkward. And then they start to forget and they stop asking how you are doing. In fact quite a lot of them are very quick to forget and move on and it appears that they would be quite happy if you did the same. However it is impossible to forget, something so big and life changing… to forget and move on might make them feel better, but I am not going back to who I was, there is a new normal. It is neither good or bad, just different. I am not the same gal that I was, this little person meant the world to me, to all of us, and because they aren’t with us now doesn’t mean that they are any less important. It turns out that there are a core group of folk, who get it, they too have been changed by a deep loss.
There is certainly no right or wrong way to experience the loss of a baby… nobody appears to know what to do or what to say… in fact the only tradition it seems, is that no-one says anything. Suddenly the miracle that was a new life is unmentionable. Honestly, people will talk about their hay-fever or a bad cold, long before they talk about the loss of a baby. This happens to one in four women, though you would never know it. It isn’t just a minor “woman’s health event,” that we can pretend never happened. It is a shocking experience and the pain doesn’t wander off in the same way that you recover from a really bad headache. The fact is, it isn’t just a health issue, it is an issue of the heart and hearts don’t mend easily at all.
In the past year, I have learnt a lot… I don’t have to wait for friends to need me, sometimes I can need them too – this is huge. I have a collection of “anytime friends” those friends that you can call anytime, and while for most of them we have always been friends… I never actually called them anytime before now. What I didn’t expect was that I would feel so much more, about everything and everyone. I have learnt to listen better, to understand more and to do something for a friend in need… because while I used to think only I battled to ask for help, I have discovered that everyone battles with that. I also learnt that in the depths of needing help we very often don’t know what help we need to ask for. I have to say so many friends did something… dropped an email, left a message, came by and played with the kids, dropped off a meal. I didn’t ask for any help at all and yet I received it again and again… and because of that I am better at helping others. Not just asking how I can help, just doing something, anything. No one thing stands out as the most helpful thing on earth… but many little acts of kindness really do add up.
When a friend is in trouble, I don’t wait for friends to say that they are hurting, I know they are and I am quite happy to say I am sorry for the pain they are in. I don’t ask, “How can I help?” I do something, often something very small. It is one thing to be a good listener, but sometimes our friends need some one to acknowledge their pain or actually just stop by and make them a cup of tea. My heart is bigger for what we have been through. The feeling of loss is huge and I carry it alongside me, whatever I am doing, wherever I am… I have changed how I parent and don’t take time with my kids for granted.
These are my people, I treasure them. I spend more time just with them, I leave the chores a lot more. My kids need me and I need them far more than we need a perfectly functioning home. There will always be time to sweep the floor and wash a pile of dishes, there won’t always be time to read a story again or listen to another weak five year old joke. Yes, I have changed, I think more, I cry more, I feel more… and I love a whole lot more. This hasn’t been an easy journey, it turns out that I just can’t pretend it didn’t happen and carry on as usual, everything changed. And every now and then I have to talk about it, even if it is just so that someone else who is going through this knows that they are not alone.