Thanksgiving brings some bittersweet memories. Twice, now, I have been pregnant at Thanksgiving time. In 2012, I was 14 weeks pregnant; my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house, my in-laws flying in from Ohio. In 2016 I was 16 weeks pregnant, my husband, daughter and myself flew to Ohio; I puked for the first time on an airplane on our return trip. Both times we announced our pregnancy to family–we were ‘safe’, into the second trimester.
Recently, I saw a post on social media regarding a pregnant woman going past her due date. The context of the post was over concern that by going past her due date, the baby was in danger of dying. I don’t want to write a blog post on the science of stillbirth risk and gestational age, or the risk of neonatal death to prematurity. Not today, anyway. My personal experience is that my first daughter was born crying and breathing past her due date (41 weeks 1 day according to one due date, 40 weeks 5 days according to the other due date). My second daughter was born silent on her due date, though testing indicated that she likely passed at 39 weeks 5 days. No, today, I want to address the fact that as parents, we are never safe from child loss. Never.
The Coleman family lost their little girl Heidi, just a toddler, drowned in a pond in 1976.
This mother lost her 12-year-old son while he was playing in a rainstorm.
Carol Kearns lost her her 7-year-old daughter to a rogue wave on the Oregon Coast (now I understand my mom’s paranoia).
Twenty 6 and 7-year-old children lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Anne Frank was 15 years old, her sister Margot, 19, when they died of typhus in a German concentration camp, leaving their father bereaved.
My uncle lost his only daughter when she was 29, due to seizure (my aunt had passed prior, narrowly escaping the heartbreak of becoming a bereaved parent).
Sixteen years ago this month, a college friend was killed in a drunk-driving crash. She was 20 years old.
The point being, there is no safe window. It’s not once you reach the second trimester of pregnancy. It’s not once the baby is delivered, red and crying. It’s not after the baby reaches 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year. It isn’t at age 18 or 21 or 35. These stories ignite the anxious fire in the pit of my stomach.
The fragility of life has never been so apparent to me than it is now.