infant loss

A miscarriage is a natural and common event.  All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t.  Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine that a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. 

But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now?  And she’ll know.

—  Barbara Kingsolver
When you lose a baby.

You don’t know what to expect.People surround you. For a couple of weeks. Making sure you are not going to kill yourself, refuse to get out of bed, or start rocking a baby doll like the crazy lady they heard about from a friend. You get lots of sympathy cards, clearly written and designed to be sent to console a daughter losing her father. Not the other way around. You get free baby formula in the mail. For months and months and months. And free baby magazines. And free baby coupons. You secretly envy every pregnant woman. But not without a tinge of guilt, because you know all too well that she might be one in four- expecting her rainbow child. It seems like the whole world is expecting a baby. You have baby stuff around your home. Because you never imagined you wouldn’t need it. You feel jarred. In the grocery store. At a birthday party. At the dinner table. At Christmas. Driving. The baby you never knew, but lost changes every part of your life. Every. single. part. Forever. You see baby clothes and it brings tears to your eyes. You get sick and tired of crying. You never knew it was possible to cry this much. You find yourself angry at God. Angry at yourself. Just angry. You sware you can feel them kick but they’re gone. They call them phantom kicks. I call them painful, all kinds of painful. But sweet too. You know, or you have a strong feeling of knowing what your child would have looked like, and been like. You see a child in the store, or on the street. Their hair color, dimples, smile, their personality and suddenly you are reminded of your child. You miss your child even more, if that’s even possible. Your Babies R’ Us Registry is still active. There is no delete button on their site. The babies r’ us people don’t make a dime on people like us. Why bother right? You have to call them, plead with them to remove your freaking’ registry, because there will be no baby shower. There is an awkward silence. There is sadness. There will be no baby. You get hospital bills about 3-4 months after you buried your child. You have to pay for the baby you delivered but didn’t bring home. You find that moment of happiness in life for the first time, but the guilt swallows it up almost immediately. You remember the size of the casket. The size of the plot. The face of the funeral director. The expression of those that attended the funeral. The feeling of raw pain, like your chest has literally been ripped open. Somehow you convince yourself that you deserve happiness. Because you really do. But in the happiest, purest moment, there is still that hole that only they were meant to fill. People compare your pain to their own pain. The loss of their grandmother, husband, their failed marriage, rebellious teenagers. Somehow this comparing leaves you stranded. If they can compare their pain of a situation to the loss of your BABY, they will likely never get it. Babies are not supposed to die. End of story. You lost a dream. And it almost feels like you imagined their entire existence up. Their name becomes a distant memory on the lips of others. There is awkwardness when you talk about your child in a crowd. No one knows whether to cry, walk away or pretend you never brought him or her up. You lose friends. You find new ones. You can’t believe that women have actually survived this and you never knew about it. Not really, anyway. You would do anything for another minute with your child. You cry when others bring up your child, not so much because it hurts but more so because it such a precious and rare gift. You long for the rewind button, even after many many instances of acceptance. You want to know what went wrong, and why…You find a new appreciation for moments in life that make you laugh… you laugh harder and love stronger. You know that you can die bitter, or die thankful. There is no in between. You never ever, EVER get over your child. The one you hoped for, prayed for, carried and loved for the weeks and months they were with you. You learn to live with the pain. You are better for having known them at all.

Death does not unmake a mother. If anything, we need to be more resourceful in our mothering. There are no parenting books, no theories on how to parent a dead child. But we still parent. We just make it all up, each day, as we go along, hurting and healing. Parenting is just tailoring maternal love to fit each child. We do that with our dead babies too. We wonder which flower would honor their lives, we relish speaking their names. We collect drawings of butterflies, quotes that touch our hearts, we write their names on the sand and in the snow.
We remember. We remember all the time. We remember the love. Also, the pain. That odd quality we have about us… it’s because we have something special. We have extra love in our hearts. Love that can’t translate into choosing the safest rear-facing car seat, so it becomes love that wonders and meanders, most times with nowhere to go. So this love with no port, it flutters about. Sometimes it bursts out through tears, stinging sobs. Other times it makes for a sideways smile when we remember our child. And it always makes us seem just a teeny bit off. Because we are. A little person is missing from our arms. But all the love for them is here, inside us, bubbling away in everything we do.
please snuggle your babies tonight

give them all an extra kiss from me
hold them as tight as you can
i understand that parenting is hard and sometimes they drive you mad
and that you get depressed and feel anxious and alone
but just hold tight them for a second 
and imagine how you’d feel if they were gone
and tell them you love them more than anything
and make sure they feel every bit of that love
and kiss every finger and every toe
and smile through the screams just for tonight
and breathe in that incredible smell that only you, mommy, knows
please just snuggle them for me the way i can’t


I picture you in slow motion, your hands, arms, legs. I thought I knew all the answers, I thought I had found the way to one big, happy family and a perfect outcome. It’s funny how I used to believe having a son meant devoting the rest of my life to his health, safety and success. It’s funny how I was so ready for you to need me, and now it’s me that needs you. It’s me that needs to hold your hand, to cuddle you, to spend every day with you, to tell you I love you every night.
I picture you in the sky, blowing kisses down to me, watching over me the way I was supposed to watch over you. If it was necessary, if we had no other choice but to induce labour because of that 1% chance the doctor said, why does it feel like I made the wrong choice? I could’ve fought harder, I could’ve gone home and waited as long as possible before my water broke. Those chances would’ve moved up to 5%, 10%, and so on. Maybe the chances of your survival would have improved. Maybe I would’ve had longer to hold you. Maybe I could’ve taken you home.
I’m at work everyday, with your picture locked in place in my mind, and I think about nothing else.

I guess losing you has made me fall in love with every little thing in the world. The birds that flutter above me while I walk to work, the smiles from the customers I serve, that beautiful laugh your daddy has. I’ve found beauty in almost everything I never would’ve taken a second look at before you came into our world. If something so precious and innocent can be taken from the world within a moment, shouldn’t we all be thanking God for the things we have? I’m closer to him now because of this, our relationship has strengthened, and maybe at first I didn’t understand why this had to happen but I’m slowly starting to accept that he simply needed another angel, for something more important, and I will see you again. I know dad and I will have another chance to be with you, and that we will have your brothers and sisters in our arms with us at a later time. It’s comforting to think those things. It’s a little less painful when I look at it that way.

There are so many things I wish I could tell you, baby boy. I hope living in the clouds is as enchanting as I imagine.

I love you always.

-Allie Young