The television commercials and advertisements would have us believe that pregnancy and giving birth is a joyous occasion. No matter the circumstances, pregnancy and giving birth is typically coupled with high stress. At the very least, happy couples might begin to ask questions like “Are we ready?” or “Do we have everything we need?” In other families, the pregnancy was unexpected or unwanted. In others, the mom or the baby is considered high risk.
It often takes a great deal of pain and hard work before something is deemed important enough to have a special day on the calendar. After many losses, grieving and hard work, October 15 was officially named the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on September 28, 2006. Today, we honor those families whose lives were forever changed when pregnancy turned into grieving, when the new baby never came home.
A Little Girl Prepares
When I was a little girl, I would prepare for many things. By the time I was 5, I had experienced several changes which included loss, trauma, abuse and living in a variety of places with people coming in and out of my life. With a world that was continuously influx, I found myself always preparing for something, on the inside. Life was often scary and unsettling and I was learning survival skills to master my ever changing life. My mom became pregnant when I was 5 and I am not sure that I had many thoughts about that. As I recall, we were living in another state then and I had other things to consider.
My Mom Is “Fat”
On one particular day (maybe my first), I was on my way to Kindergarten. I remember being embarrassed that my mom was “fat” and I didn’t want her to come in with me. Such a strange thing for a shy, soft hearted little girl to feel.
I can’t be sure, but that may have been the day that I began to understand that my mom was “fat” because she was going to have a baby. I remember being sad and upset with myself for thinking my mom was fat and began to get pretty excited about this little baby that was coming. Every time I would see commercials on television with babies, I would get more excited and began to understand that a baby was coming to live with me!
It’s Time !
The excitement was finally here! We were going to have a baby! My mom and dad had taken me to stay with another family that took good care of me and I patiently waited for my mom and the new baby to come home. It was Christmas time in 1970 and a little 5 year old girl was excited for this new Christmas present!
Sometimes, They Just Don’t Talk About It
My dad came to pick me up and there was no baby, my mom wasn’t there either. My little sister was born on Christmas Eve that year. She had problems with her little lungs and she died on that same Christmas Eve. There were no babies for my mom to hold or bring home, in fact they had a sign on her door saying not to bring babies in the room.
To make matters worse, we were a family without money. In order to cover the hospital expenses, my family had to donate my sister’s little body for research. When my mom got home from the hospital, everything that belonged to the baby was gone. It was if the whole pregnancy didn’t exist. In 1970, they didn’t handle things the way they do today. Sometimes, they just don’t talk about it. If you don’t talk about them, then they didn’t happen was kind of the philosophy of the day.
When The New Baby Never Came Home
I’m not exactly sure when I found out what really happened. There was no memorial, funeral or burial. There was nothingness. My 5 year old heart was devastated when the new baby never came home.
Honoring and Remembering
My little sister would be 47 years old this year on Christmas Eve. There is a great deal more to our story, but 24 years after her death we were able to place a marker for her in the Babyland area of the Cemetery. Knowing that there is now a special day to honor those families who have experienced the loss of their babies, brings tears to my eyes.
In order to write this small story about the amazing little baby who never came home, her big sister had to do what she has done so many times before, prepare on the inside. But I do it so that You may find the strength to do so too. And to know, I am here if you need to talk to me about it.