When you are pregnant with a baby that is going to die many things are left unspoken. There are many reasons why I left things unspoken and why others did too.
I often left things unspoken for the benefit of others. Whether it be the old lady or cashier in the grocery store or an acquaintance I passed by, I didn’t want to burdened them with a reality such as mine. What a great way to ruin someone’s wonderful day, by telling them about what looks like a healthy pregnancy is going to end in death. Not talking about it was also at times a gift, I could mentally slip into feeling all what I would have felt had things been different. The excitement of 3 boys under 3 years of age, talking and thinking about how busy I would have been. It also left me feeling like a bit of a liar at times.
Then there was the prenatal yoga class that I attended every Friday. Only the instructor and a good friend knew my baby wouldn’t be coming home with me. I even attended our last class knowing he was currently in heart failure. We all talked about our pregnancies, and the details but I always left out the fact mine wouldn’t end like theirs. I did this for me and for them. My reality for other pregnant Moms could be emotionally triggering and for me I did it because the end wasn’t important while I was there, it was me connecting with my baby doing something I did for my other two babies and something he deserved.
When a baby is diagnosed with a condition that is not compatible with life the medical field is often in a hurry to end the pregnancy. There are a long list of circumstances when this is the best option but in our case it wasn’t. I wasn’t in danger and my baby wasn’t in pain. After meeting with a high risk OB it seemed like I had two options and only one he would have chosen. The first was to terminate my pregnancy (which would be giving birth but to a smaller baby) or continue on with the pregnancy but it would be stressful and anxiety ridden. The option he didn’t present and left unspoken is the option to carry the baby as long as you can, fill the baby with love, embrace every moment you have together and come to peace with the fact your time together is short and your baby will die. I wasn’t full of anxiety, I was filled with love and the day he was born I felt peace. The truth is everyone makes different choices for different reasons. All options should be given. Ending a pregnancy doesn’t equal less pain, doesn’t make it easier and doesn’t lessen the grief. Holding your lifeless baby and saying goodbye changes who you are regardless when the baby is born.
Now 10 months later I often find myself leaving something else unspoken. “How many children do you have” I respond with “2 boys”. No one wants to hear in passing you have 3 but one is dead. Yet every time I say it my heart is crushed for Teddy. He is my third son. I have 3 boys. We are a travelling family of 4, but in my heart the 5th is always with us.
The list of things left unspoken is vast. There are reasons for this on both sides. To be honest, I am okay with some of it left unspoken. I do wish one day speaking about the death of a baby or child isn’t uncomfortable, it is met with empathy rather than an awkward silence and people not sure how to respond. If it is talked about more often it will become more natural. Babies die, children die, and adults die. It is just life. It is hard but a reality. The length of life doesn’t define quality, or the impact that individual has on all those who are left behind. Theo had great purpose and didn’t need years to achieve it. He lived, he died, he matters and will forever be loved.