Posted by: Louise | April 13, 2010

dead baby land (i)

He shook his head and turning to the midwife asked her to turn off the monitor. “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.”

That was the moment we entered ‘dead baby land’. Whether our entering was the physical leaving the admissions room and going somewhere ‘more private’, the emotional falling through a trap door that suddenly opened up beneath us or a more ethereal passing through some invisible veil, was lost on us at the time. All are possible. But we were in a different place now.

At first we were so blinded by our loss that we didn’t realise we were in a different place. Everything looked the same as before and the place we had come from was so near we could still touch it. But this new place was filled with the palpable absence of Laura. She was with us still as we entered, but only in body. And even as I held her, clung to her, I knew this was not her. This was what remained after her essence had moved on. But still I would have held her little body until it were dust, so overwhelming was my love for her. Maybe no more overwhelming than the love that I have for my other kids, but this time it could be seen because the child who was to absorb it was gone.

As days passed we began to feel the unfamiliarity of this new place. It still looked the same as the land from whence we had come, but we felt lost here. All our friends were here, but we didn’t know what to say to them now. Everything felt too trivial. Even the best intentioned among them could only glimpse the place we were in, but couldn’t feel its seemingly endless weighty desolation. And so we sought out the company of other baby lost parents. If they couldn’t provide us with a map of the terrain, at least they could keep us company as we negotiated it.

Two things happened:

1. As we entered our first baby loss support meeting we realised with shock that we didn’t stand out as the couple who shouldn’t be there. We weren’t the ones who had the nice comfortable life that had awfully, but mistakenly been visited by tragedy. We looked just the same as everyone else. Everybody was us.

2. We realised that babies are dying all the time. In the week Laura died there were at least two other families who experienced the same devastating loss in our area (and it is not a major city) and the same the previous week and the same the next week and the next and the next. Since Laura died, possibly 150 families (just in our area) have entered this new land, have found themselves lost in a place that used to be so familiar to them. Lost, separated from their child, distanced from the world, uncertain of how to be around their partner (both of you grieving and needing simultaneously, but in different ways), no longer living with the innocence and hope that the other land takes for granted.

Losing Laura brought with it the tragic realisation that we are not carrying this pain alone. Dead baby land is a heavily populated country.

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Responses

  1. Time for bed x


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