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.
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