Our daughter Jessie was born early one Friday morning. Long fingers and toes with a cute little scooped nose – so much like her future little brothers and sisters.
It is always amazing to hold your child for the first time. It’s like meeting someone you have always known.
When your baby lives – everyone will ask their name, what they look like, do they have hair, how much did they weigh?
When your baby dies, nobody asks any questions and that moment of awe seems to get slowly squished underneath all the other emotions. You begin to wonder how you could have felt a moment of intense joy in the midst of such a loss.
When I wrote the poem JESSIE for my book ALL MY CHILDREN I remembered so clearly that my head was a hive of feelings and thoughts on the day Jessie was born:
Fear – fear of what my baby would look like being born at 22.5 weeks gestation. Disbelief – ‘is this really happening to me?’ Fight, Flight or Freeze – I had a strong desire to get up and leave. Leave the whole ‘situation’. Not possible when you are the one having the baby!! Lack of control – I could not stop my baby being born. I felt out of control. Guilt – I could not carry my child to full term. I felt so responsible for her premature birth. Elation – ‘this is my child. I am holding her in my arms and she is perfect.’
Are these thoughts normal? Yes, I reckon so. It does take time however to process such a huge range of emotions. It took me at least ten years to sift through all these thoughts, to clarify them and to find a place in my mind for them to rest – where they could become a positive driving force in my life.
If you have a family member or friend who has lost a child please do not feel afraid to ask questions about their child. The biggest gift you can give is to remember their child. To speak their name and to reassure that they will never be forgotten. This is all we really want.
What am I thankful for? For the opportunity to feel such joy. Such deep connection. I do not believe I could have ever known true joy without the experience of loss.
We love, we feel hurt, we heal. This is our journey.
Yours in words,