My Empty Cradles: Living With Infant Loss
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. ” — Eccleciastes 3:1–8 KJV
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day is set aside to remember the lives that were lost during pregnancy or infancy. At 7:00 pm, families around the United States will light candles in memory of all these precious little lives that were lost.
There are several days that stand out in mind from the years I’ve been on this earth, but there are two days that stand out from the rest — the days my sons died. I experienced two pregnancies where I went into preterm labor at 21 weeks. I gave birth to two live babies who weren’t developed enough to survive outside of my womb. Both of my boys were fighters, much like their mother.
I can remember the numbness I felt when my water broke during my pregnancy with my oldest son. I was in disbelief of what was happening. In spite of the decreased amount of water around him, my son was alive and kicking inside of me for a few days. Once I delivered Xavier, he kicked his leg once, and then he gave up the ghost.
When I was sent to the hospital due to complications with my last pregnancy, the doctors thought we were both going to die. I suffered delivering that little angel, but when I held him, I forgot all about the pain I had just endured. Little Eli lived for two hours without any assistance before God made him an angel.
There is not a day that passes that I do not think about my children. Some days I think of them and smile. Other days, I think of them and cry because of their absence. I often think about the hope I had for them and wonder who they would look like and how they would behave. I imagine my oldest son would have been quiet and nonchalant like his uncle. And my youngest son would have been talkative and slightly rambunctious like me.
The loss of my children is the most painful experience I have ever had. It has gotten better with time. However it still hurts. I can not say I understand what happened to me, and I admit I’ve wanted to know why. At times, I found myself feeling envious of women carrying babies that I didn’t even know.
I also recall being angry when I heard stories of women who killed their babies after carrying them to term because they didn’t want them. I thought — why was she able to deliver her child just to kill him or her, and my babies died? I would not have done that. I would have loved my sons unconditionally and done my very best to provide them with everything they needed to become healthy well-rounded adults.
In spite of the fear, anger, envy, and hurt — I find comfort in knowing God’s Will is perfect. His Will is good even when I don’t understand it. I am learning to see the positive in every situation I face. I believe everything we encounter in life happens for a reason. It is true that I do not fully understand why my sons died, but I have learned a lot of things because of my losses. I am a testimony.
“…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
I recognize that my testimony can help and encourage someone else. I believe we should be a source of strength and guidance to one another. I also believe the loss of a pregnancy or a child should be discussed. There are a lot of people who have absolutely no idea what to say to those of us who have lost babies.
I can recall the people who were in my life at the time who said nothing, the ones who said too much, and the ones who said things that were just plain idiotic. But, there was one conversation I had that helped so much. She said exactly what I felt.
The conversation transpired about three weeks after Xavier passed away. I was in the grocery store, and my neighbor walked in — she spoke and mentioned she hadn’t seen me in a while. She asked about my pregnancy, and I told her what happened. She looked at me, and she said, “I know how you feel, I lost a baby too. People are going to say, you can have another baby. God is in control; He knows what is best.” She went on to say, “I didn’t want to hear that…I wanted my baby!” And that was exactly how I felt. I was very well aware of the fact that God was in control, and He knows what is best, but I wanted my son. I knew I could lay with my then husband and create another baby — but, I wanted my son, Xavier. I wanted to hold that child. I wanted to hear that child cry. I wanted to be tired from 4:00 am feedings of that child.
Parents who have lost their babies need to be told that it is ok to cry and mourn their lost and not be patted on the head and told “there, there…you can have another child.” And please do not ignore the fact that someone you know lost their baby. If you don’t know what to say, that is fine. Tell the person you don’t know what to say, but acknowledge their loss. Give them a hug and let them know you care. Trust me, it helps.