Last Friday, a neighbour of mine lost her only child…a boy aged six. It was a devastating loss, for her and most people who heard it. We all knew the boy to be a very active little lad; I recall him playing to his guitar and singing along. In fact it was the way my kids described him, when I told them he had died. Obviously, they did not get the full import of what I told them, because they went right back to their fight over sweets. I can’t blame them.
As at Saturday, when I saw her, she was dry eyed, but those eyes were bloodshot. And women were comforting her, reminiscing about their memories of the boy, saying the usual rhetorics of how God would comfort her and give her another child. I remember one of the women saying, “Although the gift is no more, the giver of such Gifts (God) still exists.” And went on to add that God will replace and recover all that she had lost. Hmmm!
Looking at her, I was shaken! I wondered how she was ever going to get another child like her son. Even if she were to get pregnant immediately, would she able to have a child as old as her lost child, a child as smart and sociable? Would she be able to share the memories she had with that dead child with another…and would they understand? What about his personal effects? His toys, his baby drum set, his school uniforms, his last assignment on Thursday? Oh! It breaks me every time I remember but, at least, I can forget at times…but she can’t ever forget. Not ever.
My honest opinion is no child can ever replace the child that was lost. This boy’s parents lived for him. Outside of God, he was their life. No child, not even if it came now, could ever replace that child in the hearts of his parents.
Some other Moms, who have been down that road, couldn’t agree more. Take Clara for instance, who suffered two stillbirths and two miscarriages, before having her rainbow baby.
When she suffered her first stillbirth, she was twenty weeks gone, and up until that scan, she thought everything was fine. But when that scan showed that she had been carrying a dead baby in her womb for almost two weeks, she was dazed! However, the doctors had to do their job. She was given a pill to induce labour, and a day later, she was in the hospital pushing out her sleeping son. It was hard enough to go through labour, but the fact that she was going through it for the first time, and then there was no baby at the end of it, was even more agonizing for her. It took her a while to recover but she never doubted that she was going to have another baby.
As soon as she got the all clear from her doctors, they started trying for another baby. The second baby died at 28 weeks. This time, the loss was even more painful, because she had had more time to connect with the baby. She asked to see the baby and even held him, before letting go of her precious bundle that she could not keep. It was another boy.
Two early miscarriages followed, and finally, she got pregnant with the baby that she carried to term. She was put on a cocktail of drugs, especially blood thinning drugs, as the post mortem report on the babies that died had shown that there was problem with blood flowing through the placenta. She was put on bed rest at five months, and was induced at 36 weeks. She gave birth to another boy. But ask her if her son replaced the other ones she had lost, and she would always shake her head vehemently. Instead, she said, while he did not replace her lost babies, or even lessened her grief over losing them, he was her magic pill, much like the one who eased her pain whenever she recalled her loss. She is, however, so scared of losing him, she literally smothers him. But I guess, if you have suffered so many losses in your life, you learn to be extra careful.
For Ifeoma, the journey to becoming a mother for the second time was littered with three miscarriages. At the start of her TTC efforts, it took her three years to have her daughter. The verdict was that she had low progesterone levels, and that was what had led to the miscarriages.
She knew she was fortunate to have a child at all, but she wanted more…which is a normal feeling. She was depressed and withdrew from all activities. The three times she miscarried, the only thing that could comfort her was having her daughter near. She was the reminder that all hope was not lost for her and that, if God could give her a child in spite of her low progesterone diagnosis, the first time around, HE could surely do it again.
When Ifeoma got pregnant again, she was apprehensive and tried not to become too attached to the baby in her womb, for fear of losing it, but instead the baby kept growing as it should. The kicks started and then increased, as though to remind her that it was going nowhere…and she soon started to smile down at her bump. She started to speak to it. She started to bond with that child. It was an amazing feeling for her.
At last, the baby came. As she held her in her arms, she cried for joy that, at last, she had a sibling for her older daughter. She however always remembers the other babies she lost. Would the new baby replace them? No, she would not…but coming after them, makes her special. Very special!
May God grant all who have lost a child, the grace to move on.
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