5 Things I’m Not Since My Baby Died

“1 in 4”: I couldn’t find a reliable credible source as to where this statistic comes from. The Pregnancy Loss Directory claims the “1 in 4” statistic applies to pregnancy loss at any gestation while this article asserts it is only for miscarriage (without defining the weeks of miscarriage, though commonly it is a loss before week 20). Regardless, I’m not 1 in 4. I’ve even found the name of this blog to be misleading, 1/160 refers to the statistics of stillbirth (intrauterine fetal death after 20 weeks gestation) in the United States (other countries categorize stillbirth at varying gestations). Our best guess is that Corva died around 39+5 due to a massive fetomaternal hemorrhage (FMH). According to this study, a woman has a 1 in 775 chance of a 39 week stillbirth. It’s thought that FMH may not be as rare, occurring in every 1-3 per 1,000 births (~1 in 500 births).

A Mother to an Angel: I don’t believe Corva “grew wings” when she died and transformed into an angel. I don’t assert to be an expert on religion and I don’t practice the Christian religion. However, if one does subscribe to Christianity, note that the Bible is clear that angels and humans are different entities and humans do not become angels when they die. This isn’t to say I am offended by angels. A friend of mine, who years ago had a 2nd trimester loss, sent me this figurine iaicixhzhw6ixysvykuv__51534.1549715191 and sent Astoria a Vermont Teddy Bear dressed like an angel. I also don’t care if other people believe their baby is now an angel and I’m not offended nor do I argue with people about if their baby is an angel.

“Over it”–even 21 months later: I think about my dead baby everyday. To those who respond with “ew, get over it already,” I challenge you to go a day without thinking about one of your children. Just push them right out of your head and your heart. Don’t give them a second thought. Impossible, isn’t it? This isn’t to say that I cry everyday, although lately I’ve had quite a few tears. And it isn’t to say that I ONLY think about Corva. Of course I have other things to think about. But she’s always there.

Replacing my baby: Here I am in the 3rd trimester, mere weeks away from delivery (although it still seems like months). The truth is, if Corva had lived I wouldn’t be pregnant right now–she was to be our last child. Pregnancy after loss is….complex. I find that I can’t succinctly put into words what tumbles in my heart. There is no reconciliation for wanting my dead baby to be here and also desperately wanting this baby to be born alive and to continue living for many many years.

Ungrateful: I know from first hand experience that life can change in an instant. I don’t take that for granted. I thank the universe every single day that Astoria’s heart continues to beat. In the middle of the night when she’s crawling in bed, between my husband and me, I don’t care (too much) that her feet inevitably end up in my face because she’s ALIVE. I put my hand on her chest and feel the rise and fall and I am SO THANKFUL. Every time I feel my baby kick, I say a silent prayer of thanks that this one hasn’t died. So while the world may look at me and judge me for my anger or my grief, know that I AM grateful for what I have. As Angela Miller says, “You better believe any bereaved parent in the world could school you in the art of being thankful.”


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Miraculous Birth: A Non-Christian Perspective

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Please note that I am not a Biblical scholar by any means!

Astoria has been extremely interested in the original Christmas story this year–the whole baby Jesus thing. I’ve been regularly taking her to our local Unitarian Universalist church for about two years now, but Jesus is rarely mentioned. It’s more about respecting other people and the earth.  But I want Astoria to have an understanding of world religions, including Christianity, especially since about 30% of the world identifies as Christian.

What a confusing story. God impregnated a virgin with His son in order for that baby to grow up, do good deeds, and eventually be put to death on a cross in order for all sinners to go to heaven. Lots of heavy stuff–really too much for a 5 year old. I’ve sort of boiled it down to: God gave Mary a baby named Jesus and when it was time for the baby to come out, Mary and Joseph went to a hotel but all the hotel rooms were full so Mary had her baby in the stable. Then the angels sang and the shepherds and wisemen came to visit the baby and they gave him presents (poor Mary, frankincense and myrrh? She probably could have used a good piece of baby-wearing cloth). Then since the topic of Easter came up…Jesus grew up and was very kind to everybody but some people didn’t like him so they killed him but then God made him alive again in heaven.” (Uh, confusing much? Especially after having to explain about Corva dying and not ever coming home to live with our family). But ultimately, Jesus died because everyone ‘sins’ (then explaining sin: everyone makes bad choices sometimes).

Geeze.

But I digress.

Why a baby? I mean, He’s God. He could have saved all sinners in any sort of way. He had made adults before–why send an innocent baby only to have him sacrificed as an adult?

I imagine Joseph and Mary–ready to deliver, weary and hungry from their travels. Likely frustrated at being turned away at the inn (I would be). Only to deliver a baby in a dirty stable among the animals. The Bible tells us nothing of the actual delivery. Was it long and painful, resulting in contraction after contraction for hours? Or was it short and cutting–like quickly ripping off a Band Aid? Was Mary a loud laboring mama, braying like the donkey? Or was she more reserved? Was she scared? Did she cry? Did she vomit? How tightly did she grip Joseph’s hand? And when Jesus emerged from Mary’s body, did he cry immediately? Did he have difficulty latching on her breast to nurse? How did Joseph cut the umbilical cord? Did Mary experience tearing? So many unanswered questions…

I don’t believe Jesus was this perfect baby who never cried and slept for 8 hours at at a time. I like to think that Mary and Joseph struggled with perhaps a colicy baby, or a spitty Jesus who created a lot of laundry. Maybe he was even gassy. I like to imagine that Mary and Joseph argued about who would rise in the night to change a diaper.

Joseph: “you have to nurse him anyway and I have to work tomorrow.”

Mary: “I stayed home all day with him, you change him and I’ll feed him after.”

Ultimately, nobody knows why God sent a savior in the form of a baby: Jesus, born to earthly parents and raised among society only to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. I like to think it’s because there is something so incredibly sacred about a baby: their sweet smelling skin, their absolute innocence, their helplessness–completely reliant on their parents; the miracle of birth-not only the birth of Jesus but the birth of all babies, even those who have left this earth. Continue reading “Miraculous Birth: A Non-Christian Perspective”

Scattered Thoughts on Religion

Ever since my world crashed down around me nearly four months ago, I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering about God. Does God exist? If so, where was God when my baby was dying? And why didn’t God save her? Is God punishing me? Does heaven exist? Is that where she is? Can she see me? Will I see her again? Does she know how much I love her? How much I miss her?

I recall the early days, the blackest of black days, the shades in our bedroom down 24/7. Me, curled in the fetal position in bed, clutching a small purple baby quilt the hospital gave us, repeating the mantra-like words that Jenny prays in the film Forrest Gump“Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.” The emotional pain was so intense it crept into my heart, literally, and I felt as though somebody were wringing my heart like a wet washcloth. I finally understood the true meaning of the phrase broken heart.

The minister from my Unitarian Universalist church visited our home after our daughter died.  I recall asking him if I was being punished by God, and this man, whom I do not know well at all, said “a punishment for what? Why would God punish you?” Although I shrugged noncommittally, in my head I was thinking: punishment for abandoning my Christian faith,  for yelling at my 3 year old,  for resenting my pregnancy, for not fully appreciating all that my husband does for me…

I had a laundry list of sins deserving this pain. If something this horrific had happened to me, surely I did something to deserve it.

In the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Jewish rabbi Harold Kushner explores some of the universal questions that humans ask when tragedy strikes. I’ll admit, despite the recommendation that I read this book and the amazing reviews online, I had a difficult time trudging through it.  There is one particular passage that angered me. Kushner presents a hypothetical scenario in which an infant is born with a congenital heart defect. He outlines two possibilities for the child’s life: “If he were to die shortly after birth, his parents would go home saddened and depressed, wondering what might have been. But then they would begin to make the effort to put the loss behind them and look to the future.” He then goes on to paint a different outcome, in which the baby is saved by the advances of modern medicine, survives, and makes a life for himself until, at the age of 35, he dies. Kushner writes: “Now his death causes more than a few days of sadness. It is a shattering tragedy for his wife and children, and a profoundly saddening event for all the other people in his life.”

Let me repeat that: “now his death causes more than a few days of sadness.” A few days. I am on day one hundred eleven. 111 days. Of sadness. Of despair. Of crying. Of “shattering tragedy.” It is not only my husband and myself who have been affected. Our living daughter, our parents, my husband’s siblings and our friends and family have all been affected by the death of this tiny life.  It doesn’t feel right to tell a holy man to F-off.

Many people have offered prayers for me. I’ll take them. If prayers are futile, no harm done. But maybe, just maybe, there is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent deity somewhere “listening” to prayers. Who am I to say? As to what these believers pray for, or how prayer works, I do not have an answer.  I recently was fortunate enough to get a new job, an exciting opportunity, to which the details are not suited for this post. I was sharing this news with a woman I know, who practices the Muslim faith, and she raised her arms in the air, looked to the sky, and sang praises to the God she worships. I guess? But why would God grant me a new job and not save my baby girl? It just doesn’t make sense.

My Christian upbringing implores me to believe in God, an afterlife, a heaven. But I am selfishly, on a daily basis, asking The Universe/ God/ Divine Spirit/ Fate/ myself:

Why did this happen to me?”

“Why did this happen to me?”

“Why did this happen to me?

 

Regardless of your religion, faith, or belief system, I would love to know what you believe regarding your beloved who has passed.  Do you pray? If so, for what do you pray? How, if at all, do you make sense of the nonsensical tragedy you are enduring?