At least you have a child/children already.
At least you miscarried early.
At least you didn’t meet your baby.
At least you didn’t have to bury your baby.
At least you have each other.
At least you’re still young enough to try again.
At least you can get pregnant.
At least you have a roof over your head.
At least it wasn’t a real baby.
Don’t give up it will happen.
It wasn’t meant to be.
It will happen when the time is right.
Don’t worry, you can try again. We did and we have our rainbow!
These are just a few phrases that are meant to be comforting.
Let me tell you…
There are no ‘At leasts’.
And there may not be a Rainbow baby either. Not all couples agree to trying again, especially if the loss was a surprise baby. In our case, I am desperate for our Rainbow,I need it like oxygen, but Stuart has his reasons not to. Please don’t tell me tales of Rainbow babies, this hurts such a lot.
We all know that you mean well. That you probably are so stuck for words, that you fall on these phrases like a big bouncy fluffy cloud. Phew!
I’d like you to sit back and imagine yourself in our position. You have a child growing inside you, or your partner. Your own flesh and blood. They have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears, little arms and legs, a little heart pumping away constantly beating life into your child
Pow pow pow pow pow pow pow….
You have invested so much love into your child. You have imagined your child wriggling inside your (or your partner’s) tummy. You have spoken to your baby, read them stories, poems, sang your favourite songs to them. You fall asleep at night with your hand on your (or your partner’s) tummy and wake up in the same position, naturally feeling that intense nurturing protectiveness.
You have already picked out the pram, the nursery furniture, you have bought your baby’s ‘going home’ outfit. You have excitedly talked about names. You have told friends and family of your exciting news and made jokes about the fact there could be two or more in there, pretending to be horrified at the thought, but secretly thinking how awesome that would be. Grandparents are excited, calling themselves Grandad and Grandma to your little person. You have started wearing maternity clothes because your tummy has bloated into a hard ball. You have joked about your cravings, blaming your baby for your strange new desires. You have imagined your older children coming to visit their baby brother or sister at the hospital or, if you’ve thought about home birth, then snuggling with all your babies in the comfort of your own bed. You’ve thought about maternity/paternity leave and imagined your time at home with your beautiful newborn. You have imagined bringing your baby to work, colleagues cooing over him or her. You have imagined the tiredness, the crying, the sleepless nights, the vomiting, breastfeeding (even been to a few classes), their first jab and comforting them, trying not to cry yourself.
You have imagined your baby’s first steps, perhaps having them printed as a keepsake. Their first pair of shoes. You have imagined your toddler running around the garden, scooping them up when they fall over and graze their knee, kissing it better. It’s ok, Daddy/Mummy’s here sweetheart…
Their paintings stuck to the fridge, their first day at school, their first best friend, their first boy/girlfriend, their first broken heart, their first exam. You have imagined their first driving lesson, their first job, their wedding day.
You have imagined their entire life ahead of you.
Suddenly, without any warning, everything you fell in love with, all your hopes and dreams have been snatched before your very eyes. Stolen while you were dreaming of all those precious moments. A thief has broken in and taken your child.
You have missed out on feeling your baby wriggle and calling your mum over to have a feel of her grandchild, you have missed out on sharing your pregnancy with family and friends. You have missed out on watching your baby move around as they get bigger and bigger. You have missed out on all the joys and woes of pregnancy. You have missed out on meeting your child, staring at their beautiful face and kissing their little nose. You have missed out on finding out who they look like.
You have missed out on their entire life.
There are no goodbyes, no last cuddles, no last kiss planted on their cheek, no funeral, no belonging anymore. Just emptiness. Loneliness. You and your partner are on your own. Left to grieve in silence. We are given weeks to to do this. There is no maternity/paternity leave. There is no closure, no birth certificate, no death certificate, nowhere to visit to lay flowers. No one else wants to remember your child, you’re expected to man up and get over it because society has taught us to downplay miscarriage.
Downplay the death of a child.
Think about it. The death of a child. Is that not one of the most unnatural things in the world? Think of the closest human beings to you.
A man who has lost his wife is a Widower. A child who has lost their parents are Orphans, But parents who have lost their child? What are they? They do not have a name because it is not the natural order of things.
All those phrases above do not seem so appropriate now do they.
The natural reaction of a human being is to fix things. You want to make things better. But you cannot make this better. There is nothing in the world you can say that will make things better. Nothing. I promise you. However, actions can bring warmth and love. More than any words in the world can.
A simple hug.
I have found the most comforting things to be so very simple. A hug, and acknowledgment. Simply mentioning my baby’s name and asking me questions about my daughter fills me with warmth and relief, no matter how temporary. They do matter. Knowing my baby was important, that her short life was just as important as any baby’s is all it takes to lift me up. Questions about my pregnancy, about our plans, about the names we had chosen, about the clothes we’d bought her, even questions about my time in hospital when I had her, my plans I had for maternity leave. Anything.
There’s a wonderful quote by David Monteith of ‘Grace’s Story’. He said
“Our children never leave us, and this is why we love to talk about them. Because they were real… Don’t worry about making us upset, we are actually already upset”
Allow us to remember and cherish our child. Allow us to talk about our daughter.
Just please do not ignore our loss. Our baby was very real. Our baby is very loved. Our baby is ours and always will be.