Updated: Dec 1, 2018
1 in 5 babies do not make it to birth. Often babies die within the first 12 weeks but some are longer term. Some may even die within a few days of birth. Then we have some who are born and appear healthy. They are coddled and brought into their new home, their new nursery, with all of the excitement and anxiety that accompany new parents as they ask, what now? Baby monitors are placed often inside the crib to ensure that the parents hear each breath; yet one awful day-their little one does not wake. In addition we have parents who have seen their little one's firsts of everything as they develop from raising their little heads to driving a car. Parents have had the ups and downs though each stage but absolutely adores their child; and are so proud of him or her-only to receive the fatal diagnoses of cancer, or to open a door to officers with dreaded news that their child is dead. Even if that child grows to be an adult and has children of their own-if that child dies prior to the parent; the remorse is overwhelming. Children never cease being children to their parents who never cease the want to protect and to love them and their loss weighs heavily upon the heart that quakes while breaking into dozens of fragments.
Men and Women processes death differently and often at different stages or times. The first stage is denial, then bargaining, followed by anger which is where many become stuck. After all-we have a need to find a reason, a cause, and we blame ourselves along with God, the doctors, the drivers, our loved one...who should have or could have...The world makes no sense at all. It is as if we are outside of our bodies and looking at ourselves as we grieve. Those who have bonded the longest will experience the more intense pain and loss-and these are often the mothers. You see-it is the mother who probably prayed for this little blessing and it was the mother who carried this little baby inside of her while imagining how life will be for him or her. She feels the movements and she suffers through the sleepless nights when comfort is no where to be found. She listens to the sounds from her belly and she watches the baby change the contour of her body as the baby turns and stretches. When an ultrasound is performed-she is glued to the screen as she nervously watches that little heart pound. The father will also be excited and will attempt to be active in this stage of the baby's life by speaking to the baby through the belly; placing his large hand over the baby to see if the baby will press against his hand. Hopes are soaring as each dream of what this little one will look like and the magnificent future ahead.
To each, the thought of their baby dying prematurely is simply a foreign concept that no one wishes to entertain and therefore when this occurs; it is devastating. I know since I was one mother of an unborn baby who heard the words that my baby's heart beat had stopped and that my baby did not make it. This was after 13 years of wanting and praying for this blessing; 7 years of adoption agencies with 4 agencies working to procure us a baby; and then 3 corrective surgeries at this time-during a 1 year process with a fertility specialist. I had been seriously depressed due to childlessness along with some other issues that made life so empty. When I heard that I was pregnant for the first time in my entire adulthood, at age 29-I was so shocked and elated that I was speechless. Tears of joy flooded my face as I saw the evidence that confirmed those words-those wonderful words...and I could hardly wait to share this news.
The church was well aware of my childlessness for many years; my parents also were most joyous for us, and then there were my siblings and friends. Within 5 weeks I had to wear maternity clothing since I showed quickly (which was such a delight). Immediately I focused on all of the positive and good things that I needed to do so that my baby was healthy. Each trip to the doctor was filled with excitement. There was not one thing about pregnancy that I did not love. In fact-I had been avoiding the baby stores but now I was in the middle of each isle- making my list of needed items and trying to decide the theme for the nursery. When people would comment on how early I was showing-I beamed.
All seemed well but then on Christmas Day I began spotting and called my doctor who advised me to remain in bed. No, no, no I thought as I held my belly. Please God, let my baby be okay...I prayed, but I kept bleeding and the doctor told me to come to the hospital. We went and this is when I heard those dreaded words. It was unbelievable. I denied and kept asking if he was sure. I was scheduled for a D&C due to the need to remove any remaining parts in case of infection, but even then I continued to think that this was a mistake and that my baby was going to be okay. It wasn't okay. Then I arrived with my mother and husband to the hospital-changed into the surgical gown, was prepped for the surgery, and was advised as to what to expect.
Shortly afterwards a nurse came in and said, so we are going to have an abortion? And, I cried loudly while mother escorted her out and told her that I had lost my baby after 13 years of wanting one then shut the door. She apologized but I did not want that person to be anywhere around me or my baby. As they wheeled me to surgery-I kept asking for reassurance that my baby was indeed dead...so afraid that the nurse knew something that I did not...I was panicky by this point and the doctor and his team prayed over me and then put me under so I would sleep. Today-I still think of my baby that I lost each Christmas Day as I look at my other children and grandchildren who did survive. I guess I will always feel that lost but at least today-I know my baby is without pain and is with God. I learned to process this loss and know how mothers feel when a child dies. Some of my friends and classmates have endured this pain at different stages. We almost lost my grandchild in a car accident; we did lose another due to a miscarriage, as well as another due to a child's choice to abort-against our pleading or will; and therefore with each case I am reminded of how precious life is. We do have a grief and loss therapy that reaches out to hurting parents. Contact us should you need a friend to walk with you.
Some women want children as badly as I did; yet have not conceived or have learned that they will never conceive. This is truly a time of continued discouragement and heartache. Sometimes women believe that they are not all woman until they have a child. Sometimes their valued depends upon their becoming pregnant. Mother's Day, and baby showers can be most hurtful to these women. They may even be angry at God who they blame for their childlessness. I remember those many years of running to the phone and praying that my menses did not start-yet each month I cried bitter tears. My heart truly pounds for women who have not had this blessing but today I understand much that I did not understand long ago. My value is not in motherhood; and my soul can be at risk if I make children my idol. God knew that if I became a mother then I would be challenged to keep my vertical connection with Him due to my love of motherhood. He knew that my children would test and try me, and even reject me at times; and how this would hurt me to the core. I sometimes wonder if I should have accepted the childlessness-and wonder how life would have been otherwise. I listened intently to a woman who found out that she could never conceive and the same struggles entered her mind and heart but she then became one with the Word, and was able to now value herself and her life as God was center once again. Perhaps others can come to this peace.