October 25, 2011

The Heartache Of Infant Loss



I read this piece in the Milwaukee Journal last week and thought it was worth including here. The piece is written by Laura Schubert, who lost her daughter five years ago, and her words ring so achingly true. In some ways, her piece feels like a summation of all the heartache I have been writing about since Margot died. There are two sides to every lonely day, both the sorrow and joy, and she captures the sorrow part well.

Infant loss is nature's cruelest practical joke. It's investing all of the required time and effort into pregnancy, only to be robbed of the result. It's cradling a body that grew within your own and trying to reconcile the cold, lifeless form in your arms with your memory of the baby who turned double flips in your womb.

It's worrying that you'll forget what your child looked like and snapping an album's worth of photos that no one will ever ask to see. It's sobbing so hard you can't breathe and wondering if it's possible to cry yourself to death.

Infant loss is handing off a Moses basket to the nurse who's drawn the unfortunate duty of delivering your pride and joy to the morgue and walking out of a hospital with empty arms.

It's boxing up brand new baby clothes and buying a 24-inch casket. It's sifting through sympathy cards, willing your foolish body to stop lactating, clutching your baby's blanket to your chest in hopes of soothing the piercing ache in your heart.

It's resisting the urge to smack the clueless individuals who compare your situation to the death of their dog or who tell you you'll have another baby, as if children are somehow replaceable.

Infant loss is explaining to your 7-year-old that sometimes babies die and being stumped into silence when she asks you why. It's watching other families live out your happy ending and fighting a fresh round of grief with every milestone you miss.

It's being shut out of play groups for perpetuity. It's skipping social events with expectant and newly minted mothers because, as a walking worst-case scenario, you don't want to put a damper on the party.

It's listening to other women gripe about motherhood and realizing that you no longer relate to their petty parental complaints because, frankly, when you've buried a baby, a sleepless night with a vomiting toddler sounds something like a gift.

Infant loss is pruning from your life the friends and relatives who ignore or minimize your loss. It's recognizing that, while they may not mean to be hurtful, the fact that they don't know any better doesn't make their utter lack of empathy one whit easier to bear.


My baby girl would have been 5 years old this month. I don't know what she'd look like, what her favorite food would be. I've never had the privilege of tucking her into bed, taking her to the zoo or kissing her boo-boos. I will never watch her graduate or walk down the aisle.

Infant loss is more than an empty cradle. It's a life sentence.

Laura Schubert, The Heartache Of Infant Loss

11 comments:

Molly said...

I must share this as well. Life sentence. So true.

Angie said...

Such a strong piece, it speaks so true about exactly what we're forced to endure. I wish others understood or could grasp even just a tiny bit of our grief and heartache, but that might mean they'd have to say goodbye to a precious baby of their own and I wish that onto no one.

Jeanette said...

I read this online last week and yes, it sums up so much so perfectly.A great piece. x

Mary Beth said...

Absolutely perfect and spot on. I am going to share if you don't mind. Thank you for sharing.

Kate said...

You're right about the 2 sides Josh. And she does capture the sad so well. It really does sum it all up. I shared this link on my fa.ce. book page as well as on a recent blog link and find myself re reading it. She's spot on. x

Brooke said...

Oh, it's perfect. Heartbreaking and true.

Carrie said...

Thanks Josh. Thanks for writing your blog. Thanks for sharing this article. You reach deep within the hearts and minds of all of us and so eloquently express all of those thoughts and feelings. Each time I try to write something I get so jumbled up but then I come here and read what you have written and it instantly feels like you have plucked the pain from me and put it out there. I am so sad for why I had to meet you and Kari but then so grateful for you both. See you soon. xo

Jamie said...

Thanks for sharing this. Your words (and others' words) help to know a bit of all you're going through and what it must be like. I know I can't imagine what it must be like, but I care so much. I love you guys. Missing you.

Crystal said...

Wow. So true...

loribeth said...

This says it all -- an amazing piece of writing. Thanks for sharing it!

eggsinarow said...

Heartbreaking.

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