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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Somewhat Random Thoughts

Niobe left a comment on my last post, about the woman I recently met who lost a baby in 1963, who had nothing of her son, never even saw him. Unlike (I presume) many of us, Niobe chose not to see her twins, not to have any of their things after they died. It got me to wondering if I could have done that myself with Ben.

I didn't want to hold him, initially; neither did my husband. We were so afraid of what he might look like, didn't know until after the placenta had been delivered, why he died, so we had no idea what to expect. Would he be deformed? Would he look...strange? How do dead babies look, after all? I can't remember if the nurses gave us the choice to see him or not, I just remember the fear, and not wanting him. As the nurse approached us with him, I wanted to tell her to go away, but I didn't, and I don't know why.

Instead, I held him, as they seemed to expect it of me. And once I realized he didn't look strange (though his coloring was all wrong), I wanted to hold on forever. I know every mother thinks so, but my god, he was beautiful. He didn't have much hair, but what he had was medium brown. His hands and feet were so long, and he was skinny, just like his dad. Before they took him away, the nurse unwrapped him for us, because we were too scared to do so, and I'm so glad she did. Those moments with my son, as hard as they were, are so important to me now. The photos, the outfit, the blanket, the things they gave us to take home, priceless. We don't look at them every day, they sit in a box for most of the year, but I think I would die without them.

We also have his ashes in an urn, sitting in our living room. Most people we know - the few who do know we have them - are weirded out by this, but one or two of our friends get it, this need to have him close. After we left the hospital, my husband and I felt so guilty, so empty, because we left him. We left him. I cannot tell you the power of those words on my heart. My therapist would later tell me that we had no choice, and she's right, but as a mother, you don't anticipate, you don't ever want, to leave your child behind. Not like that. Bringing those ashes home was so important because finally, Ben was with us.

Now, however, I've been feeling that maybe it's time to find another place for his ashes; a place I can go to and remember him, talk to him. Maybe home isn't the right place any more. I worry that I am clinging on too hard, maybe it isn't healthy, but then again, I think I'm the only one to know what's right for me. And I would also say that I needed his things in that first year to make me believe he was real and to help me cry when my body and emotions were just too numb to do it on my own. So no, I couldn't have done what Niobe did, but again, I'm just so grateful that both of us had the choice.


Monica H said...

For me, I felt I needed to hold them and see them. I never want to forget them and that helped me to connect. Their things are so precious to me also. I have their baby blankets folded up as they were from the hospital on our bed in between my husband and I. I feel like we are together and close. I feel when we fall asleep at night, with the dog at my feet, that the family is together, complete. I don't think I could not have seen them. As was Ben, my boys were perfect. They really were, but their coloring was really dark from all the blood flowing through their tiny bodies. I am so grateful we had those moments to be mother and child. To know what they looked like and smelled like. To feel their soft delicate skin. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I felt like we were leaving them behind at the hospital too. I wanted to take them home with us. We chose to bury the boys side by side rather than cremating, but I still feel that they are with us even though, physicaly they are not. At the cemetery where Sam and Jack are buried, they have a cremation/remembrance garden, where you can honor your loved ones. Maybe you could keep some ashes and bury the rest. The decision is ultimately yours, but it's just a suggestion.

Debbie said...

(This response kind of goes hand in hand with your last 2 posts)

It's incredible how your mind works when faced with the decision of seeing your dead baby.
When we found out Sophie was gone, we didn't want to see her, hold her, nothing. No pictures, we wanted the hospital to just take her.
I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that, but what do you do with a dead baby? It's not like they give you Dead Baby Education 101 simultaneously with your birthing classes.

In the end, after just 3.5 hours of induction, Sophie was born still and I chose to hold her and kiss her and look at her perfect little body. Her color *was* perfect. She hadn't passed long before she was born, I just knew that.

I didn't hold her long enough, I didn't kiss her enough, I don't have enough pictures of her, but I *do* have her with me. I don't know that I will ever be ready to bury her ashes. At least I have that option.

Whatever you choose to do, will be the right decision. I think Monica has a great suggestion in keeping some of the ashes with you and burying the rest.

Diana said...


My son was also born still. They think he passed several days prior to delivery. He came to us on his own, very quiet and still. It was a rather peaceful time until the reality set in.
We built a memory garden to honor him and had a garden dedication party. My husband and I spread Tanner's ashes and I kept some for us and other family members. The reason being that "he is real and I have his ashes to prove it". Our sweet baby came and went but still lives with us forever.
It not advised by Catholics to separate the ashes out of respect for the deceased. I chose to do so anyway.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above
"We wept when we were alone, you rejoiced because you were home"

Diana www.justacloudaway.com