I’m sure this time of year can be especially difficult if you are a mom who has experienced loss.
Mother’s Day gifts, virtual brunch plans, and other motherhood sentiments are probably peppering your feed. Even if you have other kids at home or a rainbow baby on the way, it’s not like the pain of pregnancy or infant loss ever leaves you.
My grandmother was pregnant 18 times. She had nine children. I have known these numbers for as long as I can remember, but the sheer quantity baffles me now as a mother myself. I can’t even fathom having nine kids, much less weathering the loss of another nine.
Even if you have other kids at home or a rainbow baby on the way, it’s not like the pain of pregnancy or infant loss ever leaves you.
One pregnancy almost took my grandma’s life. Twins born at seven months, too early for their time. They lived for three days. They have names—Robert and John. Just like the numbers, their names are part of our shared family history. My mom never shied away from talking to me about them. She remembers the day they were born—the day her own mom almost died.
My mom has told me often, from the time I was very little, “If the babies would have been born today, they would have lived.”
My story doesn’t include a loss like this. My story includes a surprise early arrival and a preemie birth. A few blurred and worrisome weeks with my new baby daughter hooked up to beeping monitors and a tangle of tubes in the NICU.
But thanks to my grandmother’s twins, I never let fear for her life creep in. If they would have been born today, they would have lived was so ingrained in what I knew to be true— despite the heartache of leaving my baby in the hospital, my mind never traveled to the dark place it could have. Even as my baby was rushed away from me in a flurry of nurses, even as she cried without sound, even with a ventilator stuck down her throat, even as she struggled to eat, my mind never went there.
My uncles, the ones I never met, gave me the comfort I could have only gained from knowing their story.
In the months after I brought my daughter home from the NICU, I began to move past my own struggle and profound gratitude began to sink in. Grateful I was able to leave the hospital with a baby in my arms. Grateful she was born at a time when she had a chance to thrive. Grateful for knowing in my heart my story would end well.
I can’t imagine losing a baby. Even in trying to imagine how it would feel, my eyes brim with tears, and my brain shuts down. It is a loss my own mind won’t let me contemplate, so I can only say I am so very sorry for the moms who have lived it. My heart aches for your loss.
But I hope you are able to share your story. For those of us who’ve never known your level of loss, we might not know what to say, but we can be there with an empathetic ear to listen and help you heal. Your baby’s story matters. They will always live in your hearts, of course, but by sharing their story, they will live in other hearts too and might end up leaving a legacy long after their short time in this world.