Most often people assume that life is linear. That things go in a smooth linear fashion. But this is not how life goes. In life there are days when you feel like you are climbing the mountain and days when you are trekking through the dessert whilst you try to define your new norm. A child should never die before their parents. Death should never override life, and it certainly should never meet in the womb.
Recently I decided to go over the pregnancy books that I used while I was pregnant with Sebastian to see if anywhere it would be written that it is not a given or a take that your baby will come out alive and well. I was looking for the word ‘stillbirth’ but it is nowhere to be seen in pregnancy manuals. Unfortunately pregnancy for me will never be a blissful time of joyful anticipation. I can’t imagine it being worry free, now I know the risks of still birth and that it could strike at any time. Your number will be called like it is called in the lottery, and only then you will know what it is like to lose a child before they even took their first breath out of the safety of their mother’s womb. Though thousands of still births occur per day, millions of babies are born still per year, why then is it still a taboo subject? Why do people not want to talk about it? As soon as a still birth occurs in the family it gets swept under the carpet and quickly forgotten.
Though I was aware of still birth, I wasn’t fully. If that makes any sense at all? I knew that still birth could occur only because it has happened in our family before and a friend of the family’s daughter gave birth to a still born baby 3 times. I don’t even want to imagine how she feels about that. How she managed to live through it. I can only imagine the heartache too well. My brother lost his baby, but if the accident didn’t happen his baby would not have been still born. His baby would have lived. Or would baby David have lived?
Once you cross the bridge of before the knowledge of pregnancy loss and go into the ‘after’ knowledge of pregnancy loss, you have become part of a club, a club that most do not want to join. A club that no one wants to be a part of. No-one wants to be a part of a club where a baby dies, or where their child dies. This is unknown territory as you learn to grasp at anything that you find blindly so that you can hold onto it for dear life. I learnt that once my son died, that I had a choice of learning to accept quickly that he would not be coming back, or be the crazy woman that goes out and steals another child. I knew I did not want to be the latter. There were occasions where my thoughts flickered on borderline craziness. But at least my principles were still firmly rooted into the ground even though my foundations were completely shaken, with rocks falling and becoming somewhat rough on the edges.
My life is like a broken tree, that stands half crooked and looks like it is about to fall, yet the roots are firmly set into place. My life is somewhat broken and missing a piece but the comfort I get is that my foundation is firm in Christ my saviour. The comfort that I have on a bad day is ‘at least my son is with Jesus. He is safe now.’ I wonder if my son would have been safe if he were born alive. Would my ex-husband have come waltzing into my life ready to snatch my son away, my child, whom I loved and nourished all those months that he was within my womb? Or would he have been safe in the presence of his mum, grandparents and the people in the church.
Often as I lay awake at night, I wonder what little Sebastian would have grown into. From the very first day he entered into my life, I knew he was a wise old soul. I imagined he would have had a cheeky mischievous streak inside of him. But what is the point in imagining these things? It does not lead to anything, but as my heart but weeps for my lost son, I know that he is safe in the arms of our Heavenly Father and that he is well looked after. Far better looked after then I could ever look after him.
8 months into the journey of grief, I made some progress, and I spent the day, well afternoon in the company of my friend’s baby girl who is 2 months younger then my little boy. It was a challenge to keep my emotions into check. It was a challenge not to burst into tears, and it was a challenge to let the conversation flow. It was hard for her as well, she said she feels like she lost a friend because when we were pregnant together we were planning to do all sorts of stuff with our children. For the same money, the cards on the deck could have turned and she could have been the one who lost her daughter instead, but for some unknown reason the cards on the deck that were played was for me, and I have to bare the grunt of the suffering of losing a child before he was even born. Sebastian was due any day, but he didn’t come kicking and screaming like I imagined. Instead he was born with a dignified silence. A silence that to this day still rings in my ears.
I still see the faces of everyone in that hospital room some with tears in their eyes overcome with emotion. In a normal linear fashion death should only occur when you have lived your life to the fullest. But then I also see the faces of other professionals who decided to watch the foreigner give birth to her dead son which should have been a more private occasion but it was not. My mom was in that sterile room, and she saw the head come out and she told me that he had so much hair. But then the doctors told her to look away. I was furious. I would have kept on looking. I wanted to know what my son looked like, I wanted to know how he felt in my arms, and I wanted to look at his handsome little face, his tiny body that I nourished for 9 months. Oh the sadness is too great to bare on my tired sagging shoulders.
People often ask how I managed the last 8 months. As I look back over the last 8 months of my life, and think how far I have come, I didn’t think I would be at a place where I am more accepting of my loss. I didn’t think I would be at a place where I could smile again and laugh and actually think of a future that once looked so bare and empty. How did I do it? I guess all I can answer to that is God’s grace pulled me through the most trying time of my life. People prayed for me. People loved me. People supported me. I had to put my hope and trust into God, and hope and pray that he would hold me when I was falling and falling into the dens of the lions ready to be eaten. Ready to welcome death. But somehow death did not happen, and God carried me as I learnt to define my new normal.
For many parents who start this unknown journey, a journey where you cross over the bridge to the other side but have no way of coming out on the other end – a journey that will teach you many more things than you would ever imagine, please just hold onto the faith. Turn to God, and seek your answers from him. Do not be afraid to express your grief, just let it flow freely, as it will ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Turn to God. Let him hold you. Let him comfort you even if all you want to do is scream at God and ask him why did you take my child away.
I personally don’t think that the pain of losing a child will ever go away. I think it will always remain. The pain will come strong and it will fade, but it will come back strong and that is your angel reminding you of his/her presence.