What does it feel like when you don’t have a baby to bring home?
Note from BCP: While reading about these experiences brings tears to your eyes, we felt it was important to post so that women who have similar experiences can feel like they’re not alone. You can read more on the topic in this post. Feel free to comment below to share your own experiences and chizzuk.
On Thursday night I gave birth to my son, my first son. He was beautiful, totally gorgeous, with the most perfect of features. He had a small round head, darling eyes, the tiniest of fingers and a small puckered chin. They handed him to me, I held him close, I felt his small face, stroked his silky cheeks, I kissed him as tears rolled down my face.
This was what I’d been dreaming of, the moment my first son would be born. I’d envisioned exactly how I’d tell my family, my friends and my co-workers. I’d imagined my mother hurrying into the hospital with blue balloons, a new blue blanket and loads of good food. I imagined calling my sisters and describing my darling baby to them. I imagined going home from the hospital feeling like a queen, with an adorable prince in my arms.
Instead, I held my tiny, tiny baby and I cried.
There were no exuberant congratulations from the staff, instead there was soft murmurings as they gathered around my baby. They cleaned him up and put him in a small basket and handed him to me. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He was so beautiful. And the tears kept rolling down my face. They took his footprints, and his handprints, on paper and in clay. So that I could keep some memory of him. My eldest son would not be coming home with me, the Chevra Kadisha were going to come and pick him up the next morning. I hugged and kissed his small lifeless body – what else could I do for him?
The next morning, I left the hospital through the back fire exit doors. An alarm went off when the nurse opened it for us. They didn’t want me to have to walk through the ward and see other women with their precious bundles – because mine was waiting in the mortuary for the Chevra Kadisha. I walked out the hospital with my husband holding the suitcase and instead of wheeling my Doona with a little blue bundle inside, my arms were empty.
We got home Friday afternoon and the house was so empty and so quiet. There was no Shalom Zachar to prepare for, no mohel to call, no need to discuss who would be receiving the various kibbudim at the bris – because there was no baby anymore. No one knocked on the door bearing balloons or blue pick-and-mixes or teddies or outfits. Instead kind organizations dropped off so many things, meals were organized, babysitters arranged. I just sat on the couch in a daze whilst the community rallied around us in such extra ordinary ways.
But my baby was real, he had happened. I had birthed him. But no one would ever know. I had no need to order the cot anymore, nor the adorable outfits that were patiently waiting in my shopping carts. The hats I ordered for him are going to arrive soon, and there is no one to wear them. The spare room in my house – will remain spare. All the maternity outfits I bought – I buried them deep in the back of the cupboard. I don’t sleep at night, not because my baby is keeping me up with his cries, but because my baby is keeping me up with the image of his beautiful face in front of my eyes.
I love you dear baby, and I know that only time can heal the deep void inside of me. And so, I look at the pictures of you, my perfect, eldest son and the tears drip down unbidden. I’m keeping everything that I have of you, the prints that they took of you in the hospital, your ultrasound scans, your little hospital bracelets and yes, the hats that will arrive soon, I’ll keep them as well. It’s up to us, your mommy and daddy to keep the memories of you alive.
I love you, my baby. You’re mine. Even if no one else will ever know you.
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