It wasn’t unexpected. We’ve known for several months that she probably wouldn’t live very long. She had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome. But I guess I wasn’t prepared for her to be stillborn and I feel like I’ve swallowed a rock and it got stuck in my chest. Now, there is no doubt that this was probably the most merciful thing for everyone, the baby most of all, for her health problems would have been staggering. If she had lived, she would have needed immediate surgery, and from what the doctors told my friend, these babies do not always respond well to anesthesia. And even in the best case scenario, there would have been severe mental and motor retardation, not to mention heart defects and a host of other ongoing health problems. And even if she had the surgeries and all, the life expectancy for a Trisomy 18 baby is only about one year–a year in which she could have suffered untold pain, and for what?
Knowing all that, it still really hurts to know that by the end of the week, I will be attending a baby’s funeral. A baby that they had tried for months to conceive and were so happy and excited about. They do have a daughter (who is nine), and I know that she is a comfort to them, but I cannot imagine what pain they are going through now and will go through in the months to come. And all I can do is keep telling them how terribly sorry I am. Sometimes I feel like a parrot, just saying that over and over, but where can I come up with the words to let them know how much I hurt with them and for them? They are handling it so very well, but I’m have a feeling that there are more than a few sleepless nights in their future.
I wish I could cry more. I cry at the drop of a hat when watching a sad movie, but now I feel all locked up for some reason. I have cried a little, but I think that there is an air of unreality about this somehow, and my mind can’t seem to believe all this is truly happening. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen them since just before the baby was born. (I live a good distance away, and the hospital limited the amount of people who could be there–because of the nature of this birth.) Whatever the reason is, it is really frustrating to have all this emotion inside and not be able to let it all out.
Well, I guess that’s about all I can say, except that her name was Lila, and we’ll all miss her so very much.
That is so very sad. I am trying to imagine how I would feel if my best friend, who I love more than anyone in the world, lost her precious baby. The thought makes me teary and weak.
If you care for any advice, this is what my pastor told me about supporting people who are coping with grief: just be there. Just exist in that moment, with no struggle and no expectations. Just being is enough.
Invite your friends over for dinner and help them get out of their house. It will be good for them to get away from home and its memories. I’ll be happy to assist you in making up a menu and shopping list for the occassion.
I’m so sorry. I’m not sure that knowing a baby will die before birth or soon after helps. My son was unexpectedly stillborn and at least we had a pregnancy where we were not anticipating a sad outcome :(. I’ll be honest and say that I think in some ways it is easier to have a baby whose life would have been painful and difficult and short die before their suffering really began. But possibly that’s just my warped take on it. I’d give my left arm to have had an hour with A.
IME the true hell begins after the funeral. That’s when we were neediest. People dropping by with meals really helped or putting meals in the freezer so we didn’t have to think. Doing what they want is helpful. I know I didn’t want to leave the house but was happy to have people bring food over.
One thing that a friend did at A’s funeral which helped enormously was to take photos of who came. I was in a total blur and without those photos I would have no idea who was there.
And stillbirth is a hideous wrong thing which should never happen. All babies should be born safely and all babies should be healthy and nobody should have to endure this.
I’m rambling here – a book I recommend is Empty Cradle, Broken Heart. It helped me a lot by validating the feelings I had.
There are support groups as well. Compassionate Friends is the biggest, but there are others, specifically for those who have lost an infant.
My prayers are with you and your friends. Stay in touch with them, especially when the newness wears off. The grief is just as raw and new for the parents after 6 weeks, but everbody else has gone on with life. Be there, if only to listen and say “I love you, and I hurt with you.”
You sound like the kind of friend that grieving people need. Here is some information about options for a child’s funeral which your friend may not be aware of. When my son died we personalised the service and held it in a friend’s home which made things “easier”. As Primaflora said things became harder after the funeral. So stay available and encourage your friends to talk.
Thanks everyone, for all the kind thoughts and prayers. I know we’ll all get through this in time, it’s just really hard right now. I hope that I can truly be as good a friend as you all have said, because I really do love these people. We’ve all been such close friends since before either couple had any children at all and there’s been a lot of joy to share in those years. Now we must share a terrible sorrow and I just hope that I do and say the right things.
Again, thanks for all the support and sympathy–it really does help!