Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Never forgotten

Baby loss is something most are uncomfortable talking about. Whether it is lack of experience or a sense of uncomfortableness, it is like the "elephant in the room." My husband and I suffered 3 miscarriages as we were young and growing our family. They were all early in the pregnancy so there was obviously no visible sign of pregnancy. Those who were close enough to know shared the grief but it was pretty much "normal" in those days to get a grip and go on with things. We handled the grief as most did in those days, quietly and privately, pretty much get on with life and forget about it.

This week, our younger daughter, Mindy, is in her 33rd week of pregnancy, her third pregnancy. This 33rd week mark is an emotional one for us all. You see, in her first pregnancy 3 years ago, little Callie Grace was stillborn at 33 weeks. She had felt lack of movement so an emergent visit to the doctor's office with her confirmed the worst news I have ever experienced. As a mother, I have always felt that I am the one who fixes things, makes things all better, and protects my child from pain. Hearing her cries of desperation, watching the the doctor and nurse turn off the ultrasound machine and all of that finality was more than this mother's heart could bear. I placed a call to her husband, my husband, and my older daughter, all in disbelief. And the ensuing three days, waiting around the hospital for Mindy to deliver Callie Grace were some of the darkest days I have known. The theory from the medical profession is that natural childbirth is better psychologically because the scar/incision from a C-section would be a physical reminder of the loss. I'm not sure I agree with that theory, because nothing will let a mother forget the loss of her baby. It may be a physical reminder but again, the medical profession is almost all about "getting on with life" as if this was just a blip on the screen. Anyway it was from Tuesday afternoon until Friday when Callie was able to be delivered. The family gathered around, able to hold her lifeless little body, spend some moments sharing our grief, their pastor dedicated her and prayed over her, and we said goodbye almost as quickly as we said hello. Little Callie was buried in a part of the cemetery called Babyland. Have you ever visited the baby section of the cemetery? There are far too many little ones represented by those markers. I never knew there was a special section for wee ones and it broke my heart there would be so many there.

What my heart wants to say here is that though it has been 3 years, Callie Grace holds a place in our hearts and always will. That is hard to explain, a little life we were robbed of ever knowing, a little person who is missing in the lineup of grandchildren on the hearth in the Christmas photo. When asked how many grandchildren we have, we always stumble over the number, maybe we always will. Some don't know how to handle the information if we do share, and at other times I feel protective, perhaps I don't want to share the beauty of this little life with someone who maybe won't understand or care. It is something for sure that there aren't textbooks on, no "dummy" books to follow the protocol on, not many whose path you come across who have shared the same experience.

If you or someone you know has experienced such a loss, ask them to tell you about the one they lost. Share in their story. Give them the permission to tell you about their loved one and how much they loved them. There is no better way to validate someone's grief than to take an interest and care about their hurt. Celebrate with them the life of the person they have lost.

Today, I celebrate Callie Grace, so beautiful, sweet little pink-tinted lips, one who is missed and who will always hold the place as our first granddaughter. Her eyes first opened to see Jesus - for that we cannot wish anything different. She is in His arms and we rejoice knowing that some day we will be joining her around His throne.


  1. Marcella ( 26, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    Vicki- I found your blog through Beth's blog and I read your comments about the Memory verse celebration. I started that journey but didn't complete it so I didn't attend the celebration. Anyway, I saw this post remembering you precious granddaughter. I too lost a baby to miscarriage during the early weeks of my second pregnancy. I have NEVER known such loss! Your words display your great understanding of such loss and grief. Thank you for your expression of love and understanding! So many people don't understand. Reading your post was like a breath of fresh air. I really liked the thought that our babies opened their eyes to see Jesus first! Again, thanks so much!

  2. Marcella,
    Thank you for your kind words. As you well understand, it is an ongoing journey. My granddaughter opening her eyes to see Jesus first was something my daughter said had occured to her, and it gave her great comfort. Perhaps that is the only way we can really let go - to know that the One who created and loves them got the first glimpse of their little eyes.

    The celebration was a special one - maybe in 2012 we can do it again (Beth's comment was possibly 2012) and you can join us. It was truly an event to remember.

    Blessings to you,

  3. Hi Vicki,

    Like Marcella, I saw this post after reading your post about the SSMT celebration. I totally understand everything you wrote. My first child, a little girl, was stillborn at 36 weeks. After that I lost 3 more at 9, 15 and 19 weeks. Even though that was over 20 years ago, it is something you never forget. I remember each of their birthdays each year (the last was on Christmas Day). It sometimes makes me sad that nobody else seems to remember. They are not counted when my Mother's grandchildren are counted. After losing my last baby, my husband and I divorced. I am now remarried to a wonderful man. My stepdaughter just had her first baby 2 weeks ago. I am so blessed to be a grandmother (also to 4-year-old twin boys). But it is still hard that I will never be the "real" mother or grandmother, the one who is there when the baby is born, or that they call for advice or to share their news. I just love them and try to be the best mother and grandmother I can be. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for this post, it is nice to know that there are others who understand what it is like to lose a baby.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Linda (I wasn't able to be at the celebration, because of wanting to be home (PA) for the baby's birth, but I did do my memorization.)

  4. Linda,

    I wonder how many of us are out there, suffering in silence really, not having the ability or the outlet to share our grief and pain. Thank you for sharing your heart. Something you said really spoke to me. I guess it shouldn't really matter to me if others are uncomfortable when I say how many grandchildren we have (saying one is in Heaven), it is the most important thing that I honor Callie and her parents. It is something we are still learning too. And we do remember her birthday each year.

    I would be glad to hear more about your little girl and the little ones you lost. I can't imagine suffering divorce after the losses you already had.

    It sounds like God is giving back to you in ways you may not have chosen, but still He is surrounding you with blessings. You are right - we will never forget. I pray we don't. Life is precious and it should count, no matter how long in duration.

    Bless you -

    P.S. I'm sorry you missed the celebration, but you were in the right place with the little one's birth.

  5. Hi Vicki,

    I too stumbled across your blog while reading about the memory verse party. We also lost a little grandbaby at a month old. Coming up at three years in May. The thing about it is that you think in this day and age medical science is going to take care of a babies problems.

    I was privalaged to be there when Parker died. It was so precious to hold that tiny baby before he died, knowing that any moment he was going to take his last little breaths. If someone would have asked me if I wanted to be there when a baby died I would have said absolutly NOT! But it was one of the most beatiful events of my life. I know you and others who are reading this will understand that concept.

    The one thing I hold onto like a tiger is that he is in heaven. Not just lip service, but knowing he is in the presence of God. He was such a little cutie and a little fighter. I loved everything about him. It was hard for friends to know what to do and say. Now I know I can be a help to others.

    Thanks for sharing. I have had a good cry today. Just what the doctor odered!


  6. Jeri,
    It is SO wonderful to hear from others who know the feelings of losing a little one, either our own or those of our loved ones. Words cannot adequately describe the hopelessness - but you are right, they go straight to the Father and are already experiencing what we some day all will. Isn't is amazing to love someone so much that you have never known? You are right - we are equipped now to help others to know how to comfort and surround those in these situations.

    I am honored that by talking about Callie, others can bond together to share our hurts and feelings.

    Please pray for my daughter as she will in 3 weeks deliver little Ellie Kate. These last few weeks are full of emotion from what she has already experienced.


  7. Dear Vicki,
    How thrilling to have a little Ellie Kate. I love her name. I am sure your daughter is feeling all kinds of emotions. I can only imagine. Yes, I will pray for her and E.K.'s safe delivery. Enjoy, I am excited for you. Jeri