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Dead Babies Club

247ModernMom shares her thoughts on suffering child loss due to miscarriage and prematurity.

One angel.  Two angels.  Three angels.  Four.  Five angels.  Six Angels.  Tens of thousands more.

One dead baby.  Two dead babies.  Three dead babies.  Four.  Five dead babies.  Six dead babies.  Tens of thousands more.

I read every blog, article, and random ranting I post out loud to myself, over and over again, before I post.  As I read this out loud I choke on the words as they jump off my tongue.  My heart races and I find myself distracted by the impact.  I regain my mental, emotional, and literary composure. 

Click.  Click.  Tap.  Tap.  My fingers dance across the keyboard again.  I'm ready now.

I'm ready to address the pretty sentiment of angels and to disclose the ugly truth of babies dying.  Two different spins on thousands of stories, with the same finale.  The loss of a child.  The end.  The beginning of nothing ever being the same again.  Ultimately, a parent's journey through the rest of their life, trapped in a special world of irony where giggles are a reminder of death.  Tears are unprovoked.  Silence is deafening.  Conversations sound like static conducers.  It's an existence in the middle, between life and death; literally. 

Goodbye, yesterday.  Goodbye, tomorrow.  Hello, today.  You are all I have left.  The reality in this statement destroys me.  Yet, it is comforting too.

Miscarriage and prematurity are leading causes of death in infants.  The numbers are humbling.  The fight for prevention is endless.  Public empathy is often based on the pretty spin of parents of angels, in-memory-of acts, along with the cliché and misguided assumption that time heals all. 

The loss of a child isn't a treatable condition that will go away with the right course of intervention.  Time doesn't heal death.  Death is not a wound that a parent recovers from.  Time is just distance and proof that life goes on with us and without the children. 

This is an irreconcilable equation.  It's an awkward topic.  It's an uncomfortable thought.  It's a challenging conversation.  Good.

I'm more concerned when it is not those things.  I am compelled to remind people that the reality is ugly.  Survivors use all means necessary, including romantic notions, so that they can live with, not through, their loss.  That is not an invitation for the public to minimize a parent's suffering, ignore it, discourage the topic, and demand recovery. 

Parents are not supposed to lose their children.  We are not supposed to be at ease with it.

Be uncomfortable.  Feel the awkwardness.  Acknowledge that there cannot be reconciliation.  Expect victims of this terrible epidemic to move on with their loss, not to move on from it.  Don't be afraid to say the name of a child who lived.  It is more comforting than painful to hear.  Don't think that you intruding on our club.

That's the biggest misconception of all.  Parents who have lost children do NOT have a club.  Who would ever want to be in such a club?! Every parent I know who has lost a child would gladly give up all their subsequent acts of kindness, new friendships, and discovered strength.  They would opt out of it all, without blinking, if it meant they would still have their child.

Sadly, there are people out there, so disturbed and desperate, that they prey on these parent-victims and pretend to be victims of child-loss themselves, for a chance to join.

There is no Dead Babies Club.

I have suffered from miscarriage in my life.  I was told I might never be able to have children.  I have five.  My oldests are twelve and eight.  My triplets are twenty-six months old.  They each weighed just over two pounds when they were born.  Their first-ever home was at Kaiser, in the NICU.  That is where they were nursed into life.  They are healthy toddlers now. 

I don't know why they survived while so many others don't.  I know I am lucky.  I know I am humbled.  I know I will keep fighting for other babies to have the same chance at life as mine now do.  I am thankful for the advances in medicine and technology.  I am appreciative of the selfless efforts of others to continue  I am dedicated to this cause.

If you are disturbed and moved by these thoughts, I hope you'll join me and the March of Dimes in fighting for prevention.  I will be walking in the Bay Area's March for Babies walk on April 28, in San Jose with Team Pirate Power.  You can sponsor me with any size donation on my personal March for Babies page.  You can join in the fundraising yourself.  You can do neither, but still choose to unite and walk beside us. 

Death by miscarriage and prematurity are not a choice.  Fighting for prevention is.  I hope you'll choose to join me in fighting.  In all of this, hope is still alive.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leila Manning March 23, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Thank you for saying what I often cannot say myself. My baby died. My heart is broken, and it is a break that will not heal. I am learning to live with the ache, is all.
24/7 Modern Mom March 24, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Leila is the mother of twin boys, the inspiration for Team Pirate Power. I hope you will check out her story. She started a non-profit and Team Pirate power is the now the FIFTH FAMILY TEAM IN THE NATION. I wrote this article, not only inspired by my own stories, but of Leila & another friend, Monica - who have suffered so much. I take their loss personally, and all lost children. The website for Pirate Power (now a non-profit) is http://www.pirate-power.org
Carol Parker March 25, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Thank you for this column. The March of Dimes deserves everyone's support for the work it has done over the years and continues to do. I remember my mother going door to door in the 1950's literally collecting dimes from people in our neighborhood for this cause - thus the name March for Dimes, I imagine. . As someone who lost their first child over 30 years ago, more than midway through my pregnancy when the baby for some unknown reason suddenly died, I can tell you it was a horrific loss and one we still feel today, despite having gone on to have three more children. Hopefully one day there will be more known about why babies die prematurely. The work of the March of Dimes is vital to that effort. Meanwhile, I would encourage those suffering from a recent loss of this sort to seek the support of others going through the same circumstance. We were helped greatly at the time by S.A.N.D. - Support After Neonatal Death at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. I see from their website the group is still in existence. "S.A.N.D. is a free support group for those who have lost an infant due to early miscarriage or shortly after delivery. For more information, please call (510) 204-1571."
24/7 Modern Mom March 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Thank you Carol. This blog entry is touching people in the right way and I am happy I wrote it. I was nervous about the "in your face" approach but the ugly had to be revealed. Thank you again for your support!

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