A mother reflects on the loss of her baby before birth and expresses the hope that such loss will be talked about more openly in the future.
I was recently in the company of a group of young men. They were all aged under 10. They go to different schools. They were thrown together on this particular day by chance, some knowing each other well, other less so. My 8 year old son was among them. As they played in one room I could overhear their chat from another.
Out of the blue my son said: "Ya so we’re doing our school play this year with 4th class". He is in third.
He continued: "And we have a baby in Heaven, that died in my Mom’s tummy. She would be in 4th class now. So if she was here we would be doing our school play together. And I was telling my friend at school and he said that they’ve a baby in Heaven too. And that he should be in 4th class too. So we said imagine if they were both here and were friends."
I was gobsmacked. We talk openly about our baby, and so do our children, but I really didn’t expect my son to speak so openly and comfortably about this in a group.
I wondered how the other children would feel - I was dying to see their reaction. I hovered in the doorway. In a room of adults his little speech may well have been met with an awkward silence ... at least initially.
His words were met with silence.
For a split second. Then his pal chimed in.
"Ya we have two babies in Heaven. Apparently they’re called Angel Babies. Although if I’d gone to Heaven I doubt I’d be called an Angel Baby".
I must admit I butted in then to say "Oh I’m pretty sure you would".
A few more little voices joined in then ...
"Imagine if they were all friends!"
Only one of the little guys hadn’t joined in. But he was listening. Then he nodded his head and said "Ya ... my Mom too". And they all nodded.
And that was it ... the conversation finished, play resumed ... just as it should.
On reflection I had known about each of these five Angel Babies beforehand. But the thought had not entered my head as their siblings sat playing together.
Five Angel Babies. Five people we don’t get to have in our lives, to watch them grow, to watch them become their full selves.
We will never know who and what they would have become.
Each one of them might have changed the world ... even for one person. They might have been the one ... for someone. They might have saved someone ... they might have known to ask a friend ‘Are you ok?’ when they know the answer is No. They might have written a song that would help someone find their voice. They might have invented something that would change all of our lives. They might have made someone smile.
In fact they would have changed the world ... because they most certainly would have changed ours.
But they don’t get that chance. And we don’t get them. Not for long enough.
Our little baby should be 10 years old next week.
I know I would have loved her just as much as her siblings. I know too that she would have driven us just as crazy as they do. I’m lucky to have other children.
A year later when other Moms lay awake at night craving their baby, I had another little baby to hold. But although life did go on, and happiness filled our lives again, at some level I don’t find the loss any more acceptable now than I did during those horrendous first few months.
In all of the 10 years since I unwillingly joined this club ... this club of parents who are destined to live without our babies ... this was without doubt the most natural, beautiful, honest, discussion about our lost little babies I’ve ever heard.
No one measured their loss, no one made comparisons, no one felt the need to minimise the loss, no one felt the need to say ‘mine was only so many weeks’.
In their own way they simply acknowledged their own and each other's loss. And in doing so paid a beautiful tribute to their lost siblings.
We adults could learn a lot from children ... but of course we know that.
We worry will our boys open up and talk? They can do it just like we all can, given the right space to do so. I am moved that on this occasion it was my son, at age 8, who gave a group of incredible young people the chance to express something so poignant.
If they can do it we all can.
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