In my 50 some years I have seen many things, gone through many things and had to deal with all kinds of things in this thing they call life. Sometimes it can be absolutely wonderful and other times it can just plain suck to the point where you have to ask yourself – why me.
One of those sucky things is the loss of a baby. I remember the excitement of finding out I was pregnant. We had been trying for a while so when it finally happened I couldn’t believe it. Here I was at 33 finally pregnant. I spent endless nights with my hands on my stomach looking down in amazement that I had a baby in there. I couldn’t believe it. Me – pregnant.
The pregnancy was good. I did everything I was supposed to. I was a smoker back then and I cut back quite a bit to eventually in my sixth month quitting completely. I ate healthy, and felt pretty good. The doctor didn’t see anything that raised any concern. The baby was growing normally, a bit small, but nothing to worry about. We got a crib and all the other baby things needed, generously donated by friends who had already had their families. I waited anxiously for my doctor appointments to listen to the little heartbeat. At that time, ultrasounds were not as frequent as they are today so my doctor never scheduled one for me because everything was just fine and as my Doctor I trusted him.
At my 34th week, I had gone for a check up and the heartbeat was good, and everything was just fine. I wondered why I wasn’t as huge as some of my friends at this stage of my pregnancy but figured that the baby was just small and I wasn’t a big person either. A week later, sitting at work, I started to get some crappy feelings. When I got home I ran to my trusted book and read where it is normal to feel this at this stage. As the evening progressed, they got worse and finally at 2:00 in the morning I knew something was wrong and we had to get to the hospital. When I think back there were alot of warning signs in the last few months of my pregnancy that I didn’t pay attention to, but being my first pregnancy I listened to my Doctor.
They whisked me into a delivery room, checked me over and then told me the news – they couldn’t detect a heartbeat and would have to just let the labour progress. I think at that point I went into shock because I don’t remember much after that. I remember crying and I remember the countless Doctors and Nurses coming and going each one coming up to me to offer their condolences. The baby, a boy, was born quickly. I was told he only weighed 2 lbs. I never saw him. I was asked if I wanted to see him, that he had probably been dead inside of me for about 4 days – I said no. The only thing I asked was if he had hair. Yes they said, he had a full head of dark hair. I had an image in my head of what he looked like and I wanted to keep it.
They did an autopsy and couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He was a perfectly formed little boy with no birth defects, just very small. The next week was a blur. We signed the body over to the hospital, why – just seemed the best thing to do at the time and I remember the feeling of complete emptiness leaving the hospital with no little bundle. I felt alone and I felt like a complete failure. I blamed myself – I smoked; I used pesticides in the garden when I was pregnant; I had a cup of coffee while pregnant. I was convinced it was my fault. I had no one to really talk to including my husband at the time. I don’t know how I did it but I somehow got through it. I went on to have two healthy beautiful babies who are now 23 and 21.
The marriage is long over and I have moved on but I think about my little guy every once in a while. As a tribute I planted a lilac bush in the back yard after I got home from the hospital and every year he gives me beautiful smelling lilacs. My biggest regret was that I never held him. Although I still have that image in my head of my little dark haired cherub, I really wish, as hard as it would have been, that I had at least held him for just a short time and told him I loved him.
When you lose a baby like that, people don’t know how to react. Friends would not say anything which I found harder to cope with than if they offered their condolences. They tried not to talk about it for fear of upsetting me when what I wanted or needed was to talk, I wanted to relive the birth through words because then it would make it feel real. People acted as if the pregnancy never existed – I was expected to just move along, go back to work, act like nothing had happened. Shoulders were shrugged as if to say – Oh well, you can have another baby. I mourned on my own and kept feelings to myself and spent many night crying to myself in the dark.
It has been almost 25 years since that terrible day and my little dark haired cherub is still on my mind and forever in my heart. The death of a baby is a devastating time to any mother. I doesn’t matter if it happens at 2 months, 6 months, or 34 months. It was still a part of you and a memory that will remain in your heart until your dying day. No one fully understands this expect a mother who has lived it.