In honor of infant and pregnancy loss awareness I am sharing my friend Lisa’s story:
Her name was MaryJean.
I never got to hold her. But she had a name, and a blanket already picked out, just for her. I was nearly six months along, and I could not wait for my beautiful baby girl. Even the ultrasounds that were showing that she wasn’t growing wouldn’t stop me from being cautiously excited. I was on bed rest, laying on my left side, praying everyday for her to grow so I could help her. I was her Mommy and I was going to help her any way I could.
I knew if we got her to a pound, she had a prayer of surviving. It felt like I was failing her, but I would fight for her. My body was failing her, but if we could get her to a pound, the machines might give her a chance. But then we heard the terrible news: she was dying. There was nothing we could do. There was nothing I could do anymore.
My pain was excruciating. It was, quite literally, like losing a piece of yourself. I felt her last kick, and it was like my heart broke. She was “born asleep.” It’s the most cruel phrase I can imagine. She wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t wake her up, and my dreams for her became my new nightmares.
Nobody knew what to say or do. Many said nothing, still others said things like, “It wasn’t meant to be,” or “Now you have an angel looking over you,” or “You can always have other children.” I know they meant well, but those words felt like slaps to my face. I didn’t want an angel, I wanted my daughter. I didn’t want other children, I wanted my daughter. And “it wasn’t meant to be” wasn’t good enough. She was my daughter and she WAS! Damn it, she was!
Those people who said nothing at all made me feel like she “wasn’t” either. I mentioned her name, people changed the subject. I talked about my daughter, and people visibly flinched. But she was, and she is my daughter. Her life and her death made people uncomfortable. I didn’t care. Not talking about her made me feel like I was failing her all over again. But I honor her in a new way today, by talking to all of you about her.
“Why am I still so upset, all these years later?” some may ask. If you’ve never lost a child, I envy you. I hope you never know that pain. I hope you never understand what it feels like. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
For those of you who have lost a child, you know. You understand that pain, and the loss is not just the life of your baby. You have to grieve for the life they could have lived. You grieve for the fun you could have had together. You grieve for holidays you’ll never celebrate. You grieve for hands you’ll never hold, and conversations you’ll never have.
You also know that the pain lessens with time. Your grief will not overwhelm you forever. But you also know that while the pain lessens, it never goes away. Slowly but surely, it becomes more bearable. And it’s okay. I’m telling all of you that it’s okay to still hurt. It’s okay to still wish. It’s okay to still cry for your child.
Her middle name was Rose. We planted a rose bush to celebrate her memory. She was my beautiful flower, and always will be. I will love her forever.