I started counting this morning. The ones that I know about. Aunties and uncles. A distant cousin. In-laws. Twins. Two babies for two Mums. Some at seven weeks. Some at thirteen. Gone. No heartbeat. I’m sorry.
I got to fourteen. Fourteen babies that started life but were never born. These are the ones I know about. That I’ve heard about through shocked faces of other friends; “She’s lost them.” The babies I learned about through other conversations. And was told about when a new baby was born.
I think of these babies as if they had been born. Fourteen faces in one room. Old and young. Showing family features and friend’s features. Waving. Alive. Chatting. Their birthdays etched in the calendar, their due dates never reached.
What about the babies I don’t know about? What about the unborn children that mothers could never bare to speak about or reveal?
Sandra Harty Conway wrote about her losses in this poignant blog piece, “Your baby is gone and their future that you so longed and planned for is gone. You have nothing, no memories, no stories; you are just left with a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, pain and anger. You will never get to see your baby, you won’t hold your baby and celebrate their birth.” It was this that struck me the most. Nothing to hold. Nothing to grieve. No box of memories. Nothing.
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I’ve seen so much coverage of what can often be a taboo subject. This can only be a good thing. To raise awareness. To start the conversation. To give a voice to those who are suffering, but can never speak.
I feel as though I have no authority to write on the subject. It has never happened to me. All I can do is imagine. To remember what I first felt when I learned I was expecting and how I worried that the tiny bud of growth would stop growing and disappear, back into the body that had nested it.
My friend and writer Isabel Hayes captures her experience beautifully. And so I will leave you with her piece.