It’s been weeks and she still talks about him, she still speaks his name. It’s time to move on…
Delivering a stillborn baby leaves a lasting effect on a Mom, Dad and the entire Family. Their “normal” will never be again. They are changed. They can move forward but they can never go back to their old normal.
She carried him for months. She saw his sweet face on the ultrasound and watched his fingers move and the sweet beating of his heart. She felt him kick her from within and was starting to learn his sleep patterns and a bit of his personality. But one morning she noticed something; he wasn’t dancing on her bladder like he normally does first thing in the morning. She set aside her concerns and assured herself that he had just shifted positions or adjusted his schedule. She went about her day tending to her home and family. Later in the afternoon she took a rest. It slowly dawns on her that she hasn’t felt him move all day…that she could recall. Maybe she was just busy and didn’t notice his usual karate kicks. All will be fine. But, she can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.
Carrying a baby, whether for a couple of weeks or for several months is cherished time that Mom and Baby have together. They are knitting together their bond, their relationship. They are learning each other, trusting each other and growing to love each other. Even before this baby is born she is his Mom and he is her Baby. That union cannot be undone; it is done. He recognizes her voice and is comforted by her sway. His kicks rev up with the song and laughter coming from his siblings. He drifts off to sleep with the soothing hum of his Dad’s voice in the evenings. He is already woven into this family even before he is born.
As she drives to her doctor’s office to check on her quiet baby inside her womb her thoughts drift off to a place she’d desperately rather not be; a place of sadness, a place of loss. Her doctor confirms. There’s no heartbeat. Her heart breaks. Now begins the process of delivering this sweet baby who should have been born kicking in screaming in a few short weeks. Instead, he is born still. She brings him earthside with all of her strength. She must say goodbye to him, to the dreams she had for him, to the place he held in their family. And the pain is not hers alone. A Dad lost his son. Brothers and sisters had to learn to say goodbye to their baby brother. Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles lost him as well. The pain is shared.
As a society, not only do we tend to rob this Mom of validation of her loss but we completely disregard the far reaching effects of a stillbirth. Many hearts are broken and aching over this loss. And scorching words such as, “It’s time to move on” or “It’s time to get over it”, even spoken with the best of intentions do nothing to help this family move through their grief. This grief will be large and consuming. But, with loving support, this Mom and this Dad and this Family will move through it gracefully in ways that may catch us off-guard. She may still speak his name. She might even share his story or a few cherished photos that capture her few memories for a lifetime. She may even step outside of the box that we try to stuff grief into and make us uncomfortable.
But, it’s not about us. It’s about her and her heart and whatever it takes to heal her pain. So, we smile. We give our condolences for her loss. And we’re going to walk beside her as she grieves; giving her space to grieve in her own way as her heart mends itself back together. We will speak his name as it gives her validation that his life was cherished and that he will not be forgotten. We will encourage her even when her grief steps beyond the confines of that box. Because… it’s not about us… it’s time for us to move on… it’s time for us to get over it… and let this Mama heal.