I never thought I would be a member of “the club” – the club of people who have lost a child. I always thought that was something that happened to other people. I guess I somehow thought I was immune to it. It wasn’t until I went into premature labor in the wee hours of the morning Halloween 2009 that I ever considered losing a child would possibly happen to my husband and me.
Our twin boys made their entrance into the world at 24 weeks gestation. Their chance of survival was grim. Their were numerous odds stacked against them. Our sweet Campbell could not overcome his extreme complications from prematurity and lost his battle after 23 beautiful days of life.
I was immediately part of “the club.” The parents who have had the terrible experience of sitting in the front row of the cemetery with their child before them. The parents who made the agonizing choice to turn off all means of life support because all hope was gone. The parents who have gone through the agonizing journey of learning to put one foot in front of the other again.The parents who have had to say goodbye to their child far too soon.
Since losing Campbell, I quickly realized how many others have traveled this path of losing a child. It’s heartbreaking how many families have learned how to live again while traveling this journey. No one should have to experience the loss of a child. No one. It isn’t part of human nature. It’s the complete opposite of human nature.
Not long after we lost Campbell, I learned that a dear friend had experienced a miscarriage but she didn’t want to tell me because she didn’t feel her loss was as significant since she had never met her child and we had. I quickly called her when I learned of her loss and we both cried as we talked to each other. Her loss was just as significant.
We had both lost a child. It doesn’t matter if it’s a loss through miscarriage or after the baby is born. It is a loss – a loss of your child. A loss of a child you created. A loss of part of your heart. A loss of part of your soul. A loss of hopes and dreams. A loss that you longed for and wanted.
It forever changes you.
When people learn that we lost a child, it becomes this uncomfortable exchange of dialogue. No one ever knows what to say. I usually just acknowledge their condolences and change the conversation. I don’t mind talking about it at all but more times than not, the other person is so uncomfortable that they want to run away from the conversation. It’s as if they expect me to have this massive breakdown in front of them and they don’t want to see that.
Here’s what I would say to someone about Campbell’s 23 brief days on this earth: it was full of love. All he knew was love. Love from family and friends. He never experienced the trials and tribulations of this world. He never knew sadness and heartache. He was constantly surrounded by those who loved him. What an amazing life!
Do I miss him every day? Absolutely. Do I wonder what he would look like today? Yes. Do I wonder if he would love kindergarten as much as his brother does? Yes. Do I wonder what he would love to do? Yes. I will always wonder.
I have watched many friends experience the heartache of miscarriage. I have talked with other parents have buried their child and asked how we learned to live again. While it doesn’t seem like life can continue, it does. The sun will rise again tomorrow.
Today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and every day, I think of the babies who left this world too soon. I think of the babies whose parents never met them. I think of the babies whose parents had to say goodbye. I think of the hopes and dreams that were lost. I think of the heartache. I think of the love.
To all of the babies who have left this earth too soon, we love you. You will forever be loved and you are forever missed.