A few weeks ago, we went to church. I often use church as a time to mediate/pray, I don't always focus on the sermon. So I missed the first part of our pastor's story. When he was in seminary, he spent 12 weeks as a chaplain at a hospital. The first week and the last week that he was there, he counseled families who lost an infant. He felt unprepared to help those families. He asked why? why him? His classmates didn't go through that situation.
Now in the 20 years that he has been at our church, he has given 3 funerals for infants and 2 memorials for stillbirths. Those 2 infants from his seminary years helped prepare him for other losses.
I started crying, I just wasn't expecting my Sara and the other babies I know to be mentioned in the sermon. I think I also cried, thinking 5 babies in 20 years doesn't sound like many. But 3 of those were in the last 4 years. One of the babies died when I was in my late teens/early 20s. The mother reached out to me after Sara died. Sadly I don't know who the fifth baby is. I haven't attended this church regularly, except for when I visited my family, since '94. I keep forgetting to ask my family about this baby.
While I cried softly, the woman in front of me turned around and squeezed my knee, asking if I was OK. She works with my friend B, B who lost her daughter - the 2nd stillbirth. It was a very sweet gesture.
I'm been thinking about how our blogs and the Internet in general change the way we grieve, we can grieve more publicly. I think of past generations who were encouraged to just forget the baby who died or just never speak of him or her again and to move on. Now we write about the process, those first days, weeks of raw pain to months and years later, how that baby continues to touch our lives. Recently I learn of a couple who lost their 4-month old daughter. I assume SIDS. The baby was at the babysitter's and she stopped breathing. The mother had a blog, writing about her daughter prior to her death. She has been writing now, getting 100's - 1000's of replies. I've read a few of the replies, most coming from mothers, not necessarily dead-baby mamas. I can relate to the sudden loss and trying to figure out where you fit in the world. Before the Internet, I would never have even heard of this family and their loss, now I could follow their story - are they in need of help? (it sounds like they have a good support system.)
**Warning - tasteless comments ahead.**
A few weeks ago, an old college friend found me on facebook. He is a stay-at-home-dad to his 2.5 y.o daughter. We talk about potty training and brief overview of what we've been doing for the last 10 years. I hadn't told him about Sara, just waiting for the right time. He mentioned that his wife worked at a children's hospital. I asked if she was a doctor. He replied back that she was a "pediatric pathologist - a cutter-upper-of-dead babies.". I was just shocked that he wrote that. He's 35, not 16, making juvenile jokes. I was offended. I think I would have been offended even if I hadn't lost Sara.
I wrote back "please do not ever refer to your wife's job in that way again. In Oct 2006, we lost our first child, Sara was stillborn at full-term due to a cord accident. Since then I have met too many families who have lost children. I found your reference to be tasteless. She plays an important role, helping these families find answers, it's not a joke."
I hope he feels completely awful, as he should.