Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

It's October, which means that it's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and today, the 15th, is loss awareness day. And wow, I sure wish I didn't know that.

My boy would be nearly four today, attending preschool, running around like a wild child, loving Bob the Builder, trucks, cars, macaroni and cheese. I don't expect he would be napping any longer, he would have declared his favorite flavor of ice cream, and would probably be in love with the Cars movie. I expect he would be at that really wonderful stage of adoring and needing his parents, still a bit cuddly, but on the cusp of pushing us away as he started to grow up and become a "big boy." And I know he would be driving his sister crazy.

I also know, that, had he lived, I wouldn't have a James. I have thought, over and over, that I could have had them both: Ben would have been 19 months old when James was born, so it's all physically possible. It would have been hard, but I could have done it. But that's not how the cards were played, and now, I can't imagine my life without James, and I can only dream about my life with Ben.

I'm not doing anything today to remember Ben - except what I wrote above. I do more on his anniversary, and I don't really know what else to do today. I think of him, like I do every other day, and I think of all the other babies who never came home, like mine. And I know how unbelievably lucky I am, that I had him at all, and that I have what I do, with my two children now. I recently met a woman who had a baby in 1963, her second, a boy. He was born severely deformed - and of course, this was before all of the testing they have now, so they didn't know anything was wrong with him until birth - and they took him away from her, and he died three days later. She never saw him, never had a footprint, a lock of hair, a shirt he wore. Nothing. The hospital had him cremated and buried, and she was encouraged to forget, to move on. Those were the dark ages of infant loss, and I am so grateful that I lost Ben in 2003, and that I got to hold him, and kiss him, and see the whole of him before I had to let him go.

And I am thinking today, of all the mothers and fathers who are aching for their babies; the ones who will lose their child today, the ones who lost their child decades ago. The ones who are waiting, hoping, for another chance, another child. If I had a magic wand I would be waving it like mad right now, to make it all better for all of us who've lost the most precious thing in the world.

1 comment:

niobe said...

It's fascinating that we deal with the loss of our children in so many different ways, that there are so many different paths to healing (or, rather, towards healing, since I don't think we ever get quite all the way there).

When my twins were born, I chose to do what would have been unremarkable in 1963, but is somewhat unusual now. I made the choice not to see the twins, not to ask for footprints, locks of hair, clothes, or photos. I knew instinctively that for me, this was the best decision. Of course, many other mothers, like you, make a different decision, knowing that the choice to see and hold their child is the one that will bring them the most comfort.

Unfortunately, the mother you describe who gave birth in 1963 probably had no choice. You and I were both able to make our own choices, the choices that would best help us in that dark, sad time.