Years ago when women learned that their babies would not live long after birth, they were strongly encouraged not to bond with the baby. If you weren’t attached to something, you wouldn’t have to waste time grieving over it, and you could just get back to life after all was said and done. I’m not sure how someone could possibly have imagined that this was a good idea nor can I imagine being forced to deal with the loss of an infant in such a way.
One of those unfortunate mothers was my now deceased grandmother. During the 1940’s her first born daughter, Marilyn was born with a heart defect. The details are sketchy, but it is my understanding that Marilyn lived a couple of days or weeks. My grandmother had limited contact, and was told that her baby was “just in the next room”. Never given the chance to say even one last goodbye before Marilyn passed on, my Grandmother lived the next few years in a deep state of depression. As if that was any wonder!
I’m so thankful that that mindset is now a thing of the past. I am moved to tears to see all of the beautiful ways families are now encouraged to celebrate the short lives of their tiny babies. We are able to not only create memories, but we’re able to preserve them with foot prints, hand prints, locks of hair, and photographs. Proof to us and the world that our treasured babies EXISTED even if only for a short time.
Prior to knowing anything was wrong with this little one, there are ways I had hoped to simply honor the memory of this pregnancy. In all likelihood, this would have been my last pregnancy. I wanted to remember this time with a professional maternity / family photo shoot, a 4D ultrasound, and a cast of my belly. I realized today that I still want and need to create these memories, but now for other reasons than this being my last pregnancy. I also think that as hard as it might be to know and imagine the specific loss of a little boy or a little girl, these are the moments that I still have with my little one. Our original plan was to wait until the baby was born to find out. However, that was with the notion that we’d have a normal lifetime with this baby to enjoy all the little girl or little boy things that were to come. That luxury has (seemingly) been ripped out from under us. I imagine how precious it would be to know if these little nudges and prods were gifts from a beloved little son or daughter. “Who’s in there?”