Warning: this post concerns babies who died far too young. You may want to consider skipping this post if you find this subject upsetting.
Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
Unfortunately, my husband and I are rather well qualified for talking about losing babies.
In August 2012, only 14 or so months ago, I found out I was pregnant. I cried, I was so thrilled! In October, at the dating scan, we found out that baby had died. The egg had been fertilized by two sperm, and though the tiny new life began to grow, it died very early on. I have nothing to remember that baby by, except the photo of the pregnancy test and some condolence cards from a few friends. And a name.
Even though we did not know if the baby was a boy of a girl, we named the baby Jeremiah. It means “God will raise up”.
This year, on Easter Tuesday (the beginning of April), I found out I was pregnant again! Excitement tempered with a huge dose of nervousness and fear was the order of the day until we actually saw the tiny, wriggling baby that was cozy and happy in my womb. After seeing the baby, thoughts of miscarriage fled.
And we did not miscarry this baby. Instead, at 23 weeks and 6 days, our tiny son was stillborn. Wow. I don’t even know how to describe the mix of overwhelming love for our baby, the joy at seeing him and holding him, and the sorrow and grief at knowing this was the only time on this earth where he will be a physical part of our life.
His name is Theodore John.
God’s Gift; God is Gracious.
This time, we have photos, presents, a blanket I crocheted, a burp cloth and bib set made of the same material he is wrapped in even now, a grave we can visit. We have the memories of the smiles, the delight, the joy, the devastation, the despair, the heartbreak. Oh, what a bittersweet thing, to hold and love your tiny still baby.
Losing a baby is something that you cannot understand until it happens to you. You can imagine it, but you cannot understand it. Not really. And when it happens to you, you know your heart will always be a little bit more vulnerable and broken, because part of it stayed with the tiny child who stole into it when they came quietly into this noisy world.
You know the tears will never really stop. Sometimes the tears are sweet as you recall the first time you saw the tiny feet that belong to your child. Sometimes they are bitter as you see yet another woman about to burst with child, or a newborn being cradled by its mother.
But we are not alone. So many mothers and fathers have walked this wild road before. Some keep it close to their chest. I don’t know how they do. I know it is impossible for me. This post is for me. It is for my husband. It is for our mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. It is for our friends. It is for our future children. It is for the women and men like me, who talk and share and write. And it is especially for the women and men who hold their bittersweet memories tightly. Cry a little, laugh a little, your baby is always yours, and you are always their mum, their dad.
Tonight we will be lighting a candle at 7pm and letting it burn for an hour, taking part in the International Wave of Light, a worldwide event that remembers the tiny lives snuffed out so quickly.
We will be lighting one for our two babies, Jeremiah and Theodore. We will probably have a bit of a cry, and we will probably smile over precious memories. Crying, smiling, even laughing... it is all bittersweet and completely precious.