To the couple who just learned they lost their baby. I see you… I see you making your way, as quickly as you can, out of the doctor’s office and into the elevator – safe from peering eyes.
I see you, mom, eyes red and puffy… trying so hard to hold it all in, to keep it together, so you don’t draw any unwanted attention. I know how it feels when you are trying so hard to fight back the tears, but the pain and sadness pushes through and once the emotions surface it’s impossible to reign them back in.
Dad, I see you clutching the bag full of baby freebees and pregnancy pamphlets that each newly pregnant couple is given. This must be your first office visit. You tenderly place your hand on the small of your wife’s back… gently caressing to offer your support. How difficult it must be to watch your wife silently mourn, while you yourself are trying to remain strong.
I see you both. So many words I want to share out loud, but I am unable to speak out to each of you. All I can do in that short moment, as I alone share the elevator with you, is offer a silent prayer of comfort. That your grief and pain is met with an unending amount of love. There is nothing that I or anyone else can say that will make this moment feel any lighter. Your journey of grief is just beginning. But I do hope that somehow my love, a stranger’s compassion, was somehow felt by each of you and helped make those moments a little more bearable.
Yesterday I had my six week postpartum checkup with my OBGYN. My son, Owen, was born seven weeks ago via cesarean section and this appointment was met with great news. My body is doing great, my baby is doing great. Everything looks good. I walked out of the office feeling happy as a clam. Just another appointment in the books and on to conquering the rest of my day.
If it weren’t for my own past two losses, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the sadness in the air. I wouldn’t have thought much of the awkward silence in the hall and later again in the elevator. OB visits for pregnant women are happy times. We get to hear our baby’s heartbeats… sometimes even get to see them on ultrasounds. We don’t ever associate this place as a place of sorrow. We don’t ever go to our first appointment and get met with the tragic news that are baby is no longer alive. But sometimes we actually do…
I so badly wanted to scooch to the opposite side of the elevator and lay a huge hug on both of these strangers. I wanted to tell them that it was going to be okay, although I myself know that there is nothing okay about losing a baby. I wanted to tell them that there was no need to hold back the tears. That this elevator right now was a safe place. A safe place to unleash all the thousands of emotions that they were both undoubtedly struggling to hold down inside. I wanted to share their grief, to help carry their burden, and let them know they didn’t have to struggle alone.
My 15-20 minute silent drive home was filled with much reflection. I was taken back to memories of leaving a hospital empty handed not just once, but twice. I remember how lonely it felt seeing other pregnant women knowing my dreams of holding each of my babies was now gone. I remember trying to put on a brave face, trying to keep it all together, but failing miserably. Unable to stop the silent tears as I exited the hospital and drove away in my car sobbing. Probably all of the same emotions these two individuals were fighting to hide as they made their way out of the OBGYN office and hospital.
The last seven weeks have been met with so much happiness and joy to have my baby boy home with me… happy, healthy, and safe. But it’s also so easy to get tangled up in the frustrations when your up multiple times a night with a not-so-sleepy baby or you are met with a fussy baby for hours on end during the day. I remember after each of losses, how I longed to hold both of my babies. I gladly would have welcomed the sleepless nights. I would gladly take a fussy, colicky baby if it meant that my babies were here with me healthy and alive. How quickly we forget how incredibly lucky we are for the blessings we do get to keep and how blindsided we are to the suffering that others around us are living with.
To the couple who just learned they lost their baby… I’m so sorry. I wish there was more that I could say. But right now all I can seem to muster is that I am so, so very sorry!