How many kids do you have?
Its been 5 years and I STILL don’t know how to answer that question.
Such a simple question- unless you’ve lost a child- and it really doesn’t matter at what stage you lost them, too. In any case, they were, and then -suddenly- they weren’t. Does it REALLY matter if 2 of mine never lived outside of the womb? Does that mean I loved them less?
Sometimes I get jealous of the moms that can answer that question with ease. They tick off the names of their kids on their fingers, as if checking off a list. Its so simple for them- all their kids are standing in front of them- or running around like midget insane asylum patients. In any case, its not an issue for them as they count all their kids. For moms that have lost a baby, though, we have the option of either going into detail (which can be akin to picking at a scab), or naming off all but the ones we lost, carrying with that the mom guilt of not acknowledging the life- however brief- of one of our own children.
Moms of miscarried or stillborn babies, though, we’ve got a club all our own. We had a “non-baby”. a baby that didn’t live long enough to “count”. Since we never had to stay up late with those babies, kiss their boo boos, deal with colic, worry about fevers, laugh at their antics, etc., our babies don’t “count” in the eyes of many. Sure people will say they’re sorry for our loss initially, but after a while, people feel we need to “get over it”. They tell us to “look at the bright side” or -if we had kids after the one we lost- they remind us that we wouldn’t have the ones we have now if our other baby had survived.
Don’t they know we know that? That every time we mourn the loss of our baby, we get to feel a stabbing pain of guilt because its like we’re saying we wish we had one over the other? That when we’re having a truly happy moment with our babies we have now, that a thought of our angel babies can enter our mind and it feels like a betrayal? And then we feel bad for feeling bad?
We aren’t wishing we had one over the other, though; we’re just wishing that there could have been a way we could have had them both. We know “everything happens for a reason”- it was our mantra in the heartbreaking days and weeks and months after, but despite staring into the eyes of our sweet little kids on Earth, we’re still trying desperately to understand the reason behind our losses. We tell ourselves that our new baby might have the cure to cancer or bring about world peace, but then we begin to wonder what the world lost when our others passed -or does that mean that their life wouldn’t have amounted to as much?
See, each pregnancy starts off the same: you see the “+” sign and you realize you’re carrying another life. If its happy news, you start imagining what he (or she!) will look like, who they’ll be, what kind of addition they’ll make to your family, how your life will change-
And that’s where -I think- our little club has it a little worse in some ways. Our babies never even had a chance. We never got to experience their personalities; they never found their nitch in our family tree; and, if you lost them early on, there’s even a question about who they looked like. The only question you got the answer to was how your life would change, but now you have a lifetime’s worth of “what ifs” to replace that one question.
I think its time that people recognize any loss of life as a loss equal to any other. It shouldn’t be made light of simply because the rest of the world never met our babies. The fact of the matter is, WE did. We had hopes and dreams for them and visions of their futures; we grew physically and emotionally with the anticipation of what was to come; we saw them squiggle and squirm on the ultrasound and joked about paying them back for all the heartburn and nausea; we felt them kick and just KNEW they’d have a lucrative career in soccer.
Shouldn’t that count for something?
Shouldn’t it be normal to acknowledge their due date or the date we had to let them go?
Shouldn’t we be able to count and celebrate their Heavenly birthdays without being told with words and looks that we should move on?
We ARE moving on. We know time hasn’t stood still, as much as we might have wanted it to. We go to work, we take care of our other kids, live our lives, and keep moving forward; just, sometimes, we want to take a day to remember and count a life that was so extraordinarily important that they left a mark on our lives without living in them; who’s tiny footprints never touched the ground but they touched our hearts; who’s soul purpose was to come into our lives to teach us that sometimes love means letting go and trusting that God not only knows what He’s doing, but that He’ll fill that hole that was left.
Shouldn’t a life that important be counted?