Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to the world baby girl...

I'm not sure how to say what I want to say without A) hurting someone's feelings and B) sounding like a bitter, jealous and all-around horrible human being. So I guess I'll start by saying that if you are not a Babylost Mama, you will probably not understand how hard these feelings are--so please don't read this. I would hate for you to think less of me.

For those of you who are still reading, I need to say that the person I'm talking about is such a dear, dear friend. In the months after Sophie died, she was my lifeline. She was the one who always knew exactly how to put my feelings into words--not just because she is a gifted writer, but because she also lost a daughter. I'm hoping she will forgive me.

This dear friend of mine, this woman who is also babylost, this woman who was my lifeline for so long, has birthed a baby--her fourth--and it is a girl. A beautiful, healthy, very hard to come by, wonderfully loved little girl. And the awful part about it is that when I heard the news, I felt a pang of jealousy. A girl. She got a girl. How ridiculous is it that instead of overwhelming happiness (which, for the record, I also feel), I felt this little twinge of sadness?? I mean, here I am cuddling and nursing the most fantastic miracle of my own making, a little boy, and I'm jealous of this baby girl? How does that work?

Sophie died in January of 2007. In October of 2007 I was pregnant again--that lasted 10 weeks and ended in December of 2007. In April of 2008 I was pregnant. That lasted until May 13th. When I found out I was pregnant in June of 2008, the only thing I felt was fear--not joy, not hope, not excitement--fear. Fear and anxiety. Fun stuff. And who was there for me? Who else. And do you know, I kept telling her that I needed this baby I was carrying to be a boy. I needed it to be a boy so that it would be completely different from Sophie--completely different so that maybe, just maybe, I would get a living baby out of it. And it was, and he is. A wonderful, miraculous, loving, happy, amazingly alive baby boy. I can't even begin to describe the amazing place he has in our family and the amount of healing he as brought to our hearts. I never wanted anyone but him. Never.

But a girl...a little baby girl. And it isn't even like I've never gotten a living girl--I have two of those myself. But what it comes down to is this gut-wrenching feeling of longing for what you can't have. As my friend snuggles, nurses and hugs this new little girl, you can bet she is thinking about the sister this baby will never know. As I watch her holding a baby girl, I'm thinking about the baby girl I never got to hold. And yes, I recognize that my friend has these pangs of jealousy every time I mention my happy, wonderful, energetic 6.5 year-old who is mere months older than her lost baby girl would be now. See? It hurts all around.

My husband and I are pretty sure we are done having kids. The anxiety, the pain of loss, the is just too much to do again. So that means that every baby girl that I know of from now on will bring on this pang of jealousy and sadness...this desire to get back that which I will never get back. Because the truth is that I could have another child, I could have 10 more children, all girls, and they would never, never, bring back what I lost. And that is just how it is.

Are you babylost? Do you understand what I mean? I hope it doesn't sound like I'm taking away anything at all from this new little life and I equally hope it doesn't sound like I'm taking anything away from the love I have for my own little boy. Let me know.


  1. Aimee, even though of us who are NOT Babylost Mamas can understand what you're feeling. Please know that there are other mothers in the wider world who have experienced our own very strong anxieties about having babies, and particularly babies subsequent to our first. Our anxieties may be different from yours, but they are our significant anxieties nonetheless. As mothers, we are all anxious, watchful, and scared.

  2. I remember so well the first days of being a mother and the anxieties about whether or not the baby was still breathing (and checking on him all night to make sure). Worrying about whether or not we were doing all the right things for him. Worrying still as he ages if he will fall off that rock and crack his head or if he will be a loving, kind and compassionate adult if I make a mistake and yell at him.

    Of course worrying is a part of motherhood. But it is different after having a loss. We lost our first baby "our little one" July 3rd, 2003. I didn't miscarry after we found out that he didn't have a heartbeat. I was 10 weeks along when the baby was unlovingly and painfully scraped from my body. I was worried and anxious about the kind of mother I would be and whether or not I took my prenatals every day. I was prepared for the baby to have two heads and half an arm but not prepared for the doctor to say in uncompassionate terms, "this is not a viable pregnancy." The year after our lost baby was filled with obsession and depression. I wanted to be pregnant, not to replace the baby but to prove somehow that I would love the next one more. I wanted another chance.

    I'm not a jealous person but I saw what I wanted a couple of years later. A woman about our age at our church came over one day beaming from ear to ear, unable to contain the news of her pregnancy. She was 4 weeks along. 4 weeks and spreading her joy like it was a beaming sun emanating from her very soul. I wanted that. I wanted the idea that a pregnancy meant a baby in your arms. I wanted her to have a beautiful and lovely pregnancy and birth but I was jealous that she had that joy and I could not. It is a dichotomous way to live; equally being angry and sad that you can't have and equally happy for another at their joy.

    Pregnancy after loss is different. I never connected with our three living babies while they were in the womb after our little one died. It's like always in the back of your mind the fear of another loss takes over. It prevents the feelings of joy at the new life growing within. Intellectually, I could be happy with the pregnancy but emotionally I shut down. We would NEVER think of telling someone about our pregnancies until we were well into the 2nd trimester. A pregnancy does not mean you hold your baby. Although empathetic and sympathetic people are compassionate about loss, you can only truly understand if you have lived it.

    To love someone that has lost their baby means to remember that their baby existed and that they loved him or her even though they never were able to hold them, and that their baby will always -ALWAYS- be part of them.

    A different scenario but an analogy, if you were married and your husband or wife died. How would you feel if no one ever mentioned their name? How would you feel if no one ever acknowledged the anniversary of marriage or of death? You would begin to wonder if no one cared. You would wonder if you were the only one that carried that person with you in your heart. You would feel isolated from other people. And when friend's wedding announcements come in and invites you to join in a joyous happy occasion, you would feel equally robbed and equally happy for the person.

    Remembering the loss of someone is the kindest and most loving way to show someone you care. And it is particularly important for mothers that do not have pictures, mementos, or the memory of that beautiful baby in their arms.

  3. Can anyone who's never experienced a loss of their own baby really "understand" a mother who has? No, it's not possible and nor would I wish that kind of understanding on them. To truly understand what a Babylost Mama is going through is to feel the agony of hearing a doctor tell you your baby is dead. It's seeing the future that you created in your mind for this precious being be shattered in front of you. It's the instant loneliness felt that nothing can fill. It's the intense longing for another baby and yet after finally getting pregnant with one and having a healthy baby realizing you still aren't able to fill that void and you never will. It's the lack of that understanding when people say things like, "You can always have another one" or "She's in a better place" that stabs you in the heart and makes you want to scream "I'll never have her again and the only place she belongs is right here with me!" It's the feeling like an outcast when you can't muster up the joy everyone else is feeling when they see someone else with their new baby. It's the confusion you feel when everyone else around you is acting like you should move on and knowing down to your very core that you never will. It's the never ending, overwhelming sadness that fills you every time that time of year comes around.. the day your baby should have been celebrating their first birthday, their second birthday, their third birthday, and so on. As a nonmember of the babylost mama club can you truly say you understand, meaning you can actually comprehend, these incredibly hard feelings? No. Is every mother anxious about their pregnancies? Of course but that anxiety gets to end for them with each milestone...they are alive, they are still alive, they are growing, they are talking, they are walking. Oh how I wish I could have one moment of those simple anxieties back for my angel daughter, how I wish I could lack the true "understanding" of a mother who has lost her baby. To those out there who feel like they understand, why don't you try to feel compassion instead. Is it hard to say, "I'm thinking of your little one today on what must be a hard day for you."? It's not hard and I promise we want to hear that. And if you think it's hard then at least just do us this one favor and don't say anything at all, just listen and don't ask us to ever stop talking about our baby.

    Aimee I'm so thankful for you and all your hard work with Empty Arms. Your courage to share how you truly feel is admirable! Before walking into your support group I was one of those women that everyone "understood" yet did none of the things I really needed more than understanding, such as the biggest of all, a simple acknowledgement that my daughter was real and is as real to me now as my living children are. If I can't have my Gabrielle back then thank you for at least giving me back the feeling that I can talk about her freely, I can hang her picture up, I can still miss her 7 years later and not feel guilty that I haven't moved on.

  4. It is difficult to see family members babylost and unable to stop thinking about their babies. It is difficult when those babylost people put up walls because others try to connect and fail and hurt them. Those of use who are babylost need to see the efforts of those around us to help us and accept what they are offering.

    But it is also true that those around us who want to love and help us through this don't need to know what we are going through. In fact, as the last poster said, it's not something anyone should have to relate to. It's true, all parents do have anxieties that can be very painful and hard to deal with, but to love us for who we are, all we need to know is that those loving family members around us accept us for the imperfect, grieving parents we will always be and invite that child into their lives. We cannot stop parenting our lost children, even though they are gone. I think many of us would prefer to be able to stop sometimes and have that innocence returned forever.

    The greatest love you can do is to not understand what we are going through, be at peace with that and continue to try to learn what we need, forgive us when we inadvertently push you away and never give up.