When a woman has given birth to a stillborn baby at some point she will have to face seeing pushchairs, prams and babies being wheeled around by their proud Mums. You can’t avoid it and it is an inevitable fact of life – mothers will always be proud of their precious bundles and want to show them off at every opportunity possible.
I have had this in spades since having Frankie and have become almost desensitised to seeing prams, pushchairs and beaming Mums with their little bundles of joy in town, in supermarkets, in coffee shops and in restaurants. I didn’t want to be afraid of any of this so I tackled it head on, along with going back to the delivery suite at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital the week after Frankie was born so I could take some cupcakes up to the team there as a thank you for looking after me so well.
I also had to tackle hearing about how things were going with some of my facebook friends. I had about 5 friends on my facebook who were all having a baby at roughly the same time including me, so we would post or comment about how we were doing, how we were feeling and how much we were looking forward to having our babies. It varied too, one friend on facebook was someone I had known since my teenage years and was having her second baby, another was one I used to know from the days when I went to the Brewery Tap in Worcester when it was a rock and metal pub, and she was having her 5th child. Another was a lovely northern girl some 10 years or so younger than me who I met online in 2003 on an emetophobia support forum (for those of you who don’t know what emetophobia is, it is the fear of being sick, and is the 5th most common phobia in the UK). I have severe emetophobia and I haven’t been physically sick since I was 6 years old, and not even while I was pregnant with Frankie, although I did feel sick when I was having him. Another is a lovely and very talented musician in her early 30’s who I know from when I worked on the Worcester Music Festival, and who was expecting her first baby.
All of them have gone on to have healthy bouncing babies, and all of them had their babies after Frankie was born. My friend who I used to know from my days in the Brewery Tap even sent me a message on Facebook saying that she would understand completely if I wanted to take her off my friends list. But what would have been the point in that? Yes it is very painful, yes it tugged at my heartstrings every time I saw an update on facebook about it, but that’s life. As the character of Carrie Bradshaw says in Sex and the City, “After all, people die, computers break down, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot”. Babies will still be born, women will still get pregnant. I’d only be kidding myself if I ran away from it. And besides, keeping in touch with them and seeing how they’ve had perfect healthy babies has given me hope for the future.
But these aren’t the pregnancies I’m referring to in the title of this blog entry. At some point not only do women who have had a stillbirth have to endure seeing prams, babies and pregnant women when out and about they also have to hear when friends and sometimes family members announce that they too are pregnant. And over the Christmas and new year period, I heard this 3 times.
First there was Tina (not her real name) who already has two lovely little boys aged 6 and 3. They are dear little souls and as good as gold whenever my husband and I have looked after them, and we would be the happiest parents alive if we had children as good as these two are. The boy’s father is the son of one of my husband’s friends. Tina is split up from the boy’s father and is engaged to another guy, and is getting married in August this year.
I’m not the biggest fan of Tina and the boy’s father because they don’t look after the two boys properly and cherish what they’ve got. All the father wants to do is play on his x-box 24/7, and all Tina wants to do is go out with her friends and get drunk – which is perfectly understandable as she is very young – and she palms off her boy’s to anyone who will have them so she can go out on the lash with her friends more than look after them. It breaks my heart to see this and it is a miracle that they are as lovely, well-mannered, well-behaved and well- adjusted as they are.
So when Tina announced on facebook that she was 8 weeks pregnant, I literally went into a rage. How DARE she be so irresponsible as to conceive another life when she can’t even take care of and look after the ones she’s already got! How foolish of her! Has she not heard of contraception? What was she thinking?
Yes I’m ashamed to say that that was the tamer version of what went through my mind when I heard about her pregnancy. Life can be so unfair and cruel, and so can God, giving children to those who don’t give a damn and don’t deserve them, and leaving those who can provide for and love a child more than anything in the world without them. Where is the justice in God giving this woman yet another child when she doesn’t look after the ones she’s got, and taking my Frankie and making him an angel in heaven?
It took me a while to come to terms with that news, and I finally resigned myself to it by the time news of the next pregnancy bombshell hit me, this time it was my first cousin, my Mum’s sisters daughter. I found out as my Aunty rang me specifically to tell me that my cousin was pregnant, my Mum already knew. My Mum was the grandmother in waiting and then in literally a month she was no longer the grandmother in waiting and her sister was. Bloody unfair!!!! I am happy for my cousin though, she’ll make a great Mum.
Literally the next day after that came the third pregnancy bombshell. My friends Nina and Mike announced their pregnancy. We were at their wedding in October, Frankie was still inside me and I remember him kicking away during their wedding and talking to her sisters about how happy I was having him. How things change. Again Nina rang me to make sure that I knew before she announced it on facebook, and bless her she’s had the most awful sickness being pregnant, nothing like what I’d had with Frankie. They’ve asked us to be godparents when their baby is born, and we were over the moon. They too will make amazing parents and I’m very happy for them.
So this brings me to the death. In the middle of all this I had the news that my second cousin Madeleina who lives in New York had passed away age 92. I was really upset by this as I was closer to her than I am to some of my first cousins. What a good life she had though, and did really well to reach the grand old age of 92. I couldn’t go to her funeral being so far away, but I do still think about her and remember her telling me stories of the village in Italy where my family came from and going to live in the USA when she was young. She was a lovely, lovely lady.
It is another fact of life that when lives go out of this world, others come into it. Each day for me is a bridge to cross, with various milestones to achieve and who knows – just after all these ladies have their babies, I may finally have my own to hold.
If there really is a God, that is.
I’m sure that anyone who has had a stillborn baby will relate to this post. If you do, I would love to hear from you and find out how you coped with things like this. Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, I promise to reply to anyone who writes to me.