The Dead Baby Diaries
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Every year, hundreds of thousands of families in the United States have their lives and hopes forever altered by a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. For the last six years, living everyday with my daughter’s stillbirth has given me ever-evolving perspective on pregnancy and family. Sometimes, I’m still overcome with depressive grief. Sometimes, I can talk about her without crying. Other times, I make my dark sense of humor carry the weight of sadness. “Hey, at least I can find humor in the horror,” I dumbly tell myself. Most days, however, I go about my life without thinking too much about my dead baby. And that sucks, too. I never want to forget but brains can be tricky.
Baby loss is like no other. With the death of your child, you lose all opportunities to make any tangible memories. You cling to the small mementos: the box of notes you took away from the hospital, including the measuring tape that showed the length of your sweet bundle of sorrow at birth. A weighted pillow that is exactly her birth weight. The small crocheted unicorn a friend gifted you before the hell. A rock you keep in your pocket that reminds you of her — rose quartz for your little Rosie. These mementos hold space that memories would have surely filled, if she had not died. Baby loss creates a lifelong vacuum. Family members carry an unfillable black hole in their souls.
We all have heard the statistics: one out of every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. One out of 200 babies is stillborn. Knowing these numbers is one thing, understanding that families carry these losses is quite another. When my daughter was stillborn, I was absolutely furious that I wasn’t warned of bad outcomes… or maybe that I didn’t think it could happen to me. It is hard to discern the two. After her death, many friends and family opened up about their own child losses and I was just sad that everyone knew how I felt. It hurts to know that so many suffer.
Honestly, sometimes I shock myself. I remember just a few parts of the early days of her death. I was sitting on a rain-damp bench in the neighborhood park, watching my living children play with their friends. How come I only count three kids? Where did the fourth child run off…