My pregnancy with my first son was a time that feels like ages ago and just yesterday at the same time. I remember waddling around, extremely pregnant, trying to brush off questions about the baby like ,“Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?” Most expectant moms love to answer these kinds of questions, but for me, they felt like sprinkling salt in an open wound. “No,” I would respond to the boy or girl question. Obviously, the follow-up statement is “We want it to be a surprise.” However, this was not true. The fact was we just didn’t know the sex of the baby because there wasn’t enough amniotic fluid surrounding the baby for its sex to be visible in an ultrasound. Right after having these types of conversations, I would scream inside, “I can’t wait until this is over.”
Thirteen months and 4 days since giving birth to Israel David, it’s still not over. It’s a popular saying that “Time heals all wounds.” I’m not sure that I believe that. Time makes a wound transform into a scar. Sure, I don’t have the same gaping wound that I had in the days and months after Israel’s death when I was pissed off at the sun for shining or when it seemed like boy babies and pregnant women were everywhere just to taunt me. Even still, there are the rough moments, when my wound is no longer crusted over, but feels like a gigantic hole.
I think in the case of infant loss, it’s a bit more accurate to say, “Time makes things different.” A mother never forgets the loss of her child. It was only in the last few months that I felt up to attending a pregnancy and infant loss support group meeting at the hospital where I both gave birth and said “good-bye” to Israel. The meeting facilitator was a nurse who’d also experienced the loss of her son shortly after his birth. She recounted the circumstances of losing her son over 20 years ago and told us that even now, there are times when the pain still feels fresh. What I appreciated even more than her openness was how she reflected on ways that she and her family incorporate her son into their celebrations and their lives. As mothers of angels we don’t move on, but we move forward, carrying the memories of our lost babies with us.
No, it’s never over, but it can be a good kind of “different.” If I’m completely serious with myself, I don’t really want to go back to the way things were before losing Israel. Yes, I wish I could take the pain away; I wish I could feel the void that was left from having a little boy that I can never see grow up or who I can’t hug, kiss, and read stories to. But, there are changes in my life and in myself that I love—like the boldness that comes from knowing that I’ve hit my lowest point and there’s nowhere to go but up. I’ve made it through the grief, the isolation, the depression, the shame; I can make it through anything. Despite the fact that time itself cannot make all of the pain go away, I’m grateful for my battle scars.
My family and I will be walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies on Sunday, April 30, 2017 in honor of our angel. We’d love for you to donate to our campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!