Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Heartbreak of Infant Loss - by Laura Schubert

I saw this article today and thought that I would share.  It seems that she put into words so much of what I feel and have felt.  I think that many people would do well to read this to possibly understand a little more what it's like to walk this lonely path.

Did you know that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? I'll bet not. Despite the infant mortality crisis that's been at the forefront of Milwaukee's public health news for months, the only people who have more than a cursory comprehension of what it means to lose a baby are those who've lived it.
Infant loss is nature's cruelest practical joke. It's investing all of the required time and effort into pregnancy, only to be robbed of the result. It's cradling a body that grew within your own and trying to reconcile the cold, lifeless form in your arms with your memory of the baby who turned double flips in your womb.
It's worrying that you'll forget what your child looked like and snapping an album's worth of photos that no one will ever ask to see. It's sobbing so hard you can't breathe and wondering if it's possible to cry yourself to death.
Infant loss is handing off a Moses basket to the nurse who's drawn the unfortunate duty of delivering your pride and joy to the morgue and walking out of a hospital with empty arms.
It's boxing up brand new baby clothes and buying a 24-inch casket. It's sifting through sympathy cards, willing your foolish body to stop lactating, clutching your baby's blanket to your chest in hopes of soothing the piercing ache in your heart.
It's resisting the urge to smack the clueless individuals who compare your situation to the death of their dog or who tell you you'll have another baby, as if children are somehow replaceable.
Infant loss is explaining to your 7-year-old that sometimes babies die and being stumped into silence when she asks you why. It's watching other families live out your happy ending and fighting a fresh round of grief with every milestone you miss.
It's being shut out of play groups for perpetuity. It's skipping social events with expectant and newly minted mothers because, as a walking worst-case scenario, you don't want to put a damper on the party.
It's listening to other women gripe about motherhood and realizing that you no longer relate to their petty parental complaints because, frankly, when you've buried a baby, a sleepless night with a vomiting toddler sounds something like a gift.
Infant loss is pruning from your life the friends and relatives who ignore or minimize your loss. It's recognizing that, while they may not mean to be hurtful, the fact that they don't know any better doesn't make their utter lack of empathy one whit easier to bear.
My baby girl would have been 5 years old this month. I don't know what she'd look like, what her favorite food would be. I've never had the privilege of tucking her into bed, taking her to the zoo or kissing her boo-boos. I will never watch her graduate or walk down the aisle.
Infant loss is more than an empty cradle. It's a life sentence.
Laura Schubert of New Berlin is a mother, teacher and two-time breast cancer survivor. Emailljschubert@aol.com

I know that life is still beautiful, and that there are still so many blessings.  I mean, God didn't guarantee that I'd get to have Caroline's little sister here!  But here she is, our little Addalee, beautiful and healthy...a living miracle.  The problem is that even though there is immeasurable joy having her in our arms, there's still the heavy sadness of what is missing.  Our family is missing a member.  A family photo will never be complete.  We'll never be "all together," here anyway.  We will always have a space open...as long as we're on this earth.  But if I can't have Caroline here, I'm going to cherish her spot.  Of course I'd give my own life for hers, but that isn't possible.  So, I will hold her place in our family just as important as Addalee's or their Daddy's.  So, in some ways, it's not a life sentence, but a way of life.  True, it's incredibly painful, but I can't focus on the horrible parts of it all the time.  It's the the way of life I would have chosen, but if the alternative is that we never would have known Caroline at all, I'll take the way it is.

1 comment:

  1. I love that, thanks for sharing...I may actually do something I never do and post this article on my FB.

    Yes, you will always hold Caroline's spot in your family, that spot is only for her <3