“Till eternity, I don’t think I will ever forget the day I buried the child I loved. The one I had been waiting for 10 years to have. The one who was supposed to call me ‘daddy’ and actually wipe away my shame of being childless.” A former TTC dad, Mr T, shook his head as he spoke. “I don’t think I will ever forget,” he continued.
I had this journal back then, that I used to track my work to-do list, and just as I came back from burying my baby, I opened it and wrote some gibberish in it, with dates and my signature. I didn’t realise that I had written gibberish until later, when I had to use the journal. Not that I needed to remember, but opening that journal and seeing the rubbish I had written down and the dates, flooded my system with emotions.
I had to stop using the journal to ease my pain, but then a part of me died with that child who never even got to open its eyes to behold the love in our eyes. I have been blessed with other children since then. I have boys, and I have girls, however, that girl who slept as she was birthed took a piece of my heart with her to the tiny grave I put her into.”
Mr T went through the experience in the early 1990s, but as I spoke to him, his emotions were all over the place and so unlike the stoic mien I had always known him to have. I wondered if it was a good idea to ask him to share his story to commemorate pregnancy and baby loss, which is the focus this month in the fertility sphere.
I have often heard his wife share her experience of her pregnancy loss. Mrs T’s version of events wasn’t so raw or filled with so much emotion that would literally drag you into it. She often shared from a victory perspective, and not as someone who was still grieving and right in the throes of it, which was the way Mr T was sharing.
With the atmosphere thick with emotion, I asked him if he had grieved properly for his loss and his answer was; “Come to think of it, I never really did. Apart from that rubbish I wrote in my journal, I had to fight for my wife’s life, as she developed complications after birthing our sleeping daughter.
I literally didn’t even have time to process anything, as in a matter of hours, I was praying, ‘God please save my wife. I don’t want to lose my wife, save my wife.’
When my wife recovered and we went back home, I was more interested in making her happy, distracting her from her hurt feelings and sadness at carrying a child for 38 weeks, only to suffer a still birth. She wasn’t functioning at all.
My mother-in-law came to stay with us, to nurse her. My wife seemed okay, when she left, but I came home one day to an empty house with a note that she had gone to stay with her mom for some time.
That was one of the low moments for me. I wanted my wife. I wanted to be able to comfort her, but for once, I wasn’t enough. She needed someone else beside me, her mom. I was angry and that propelled me to drive down angrily to her parents’ house, with the full intent of bringing her home, but I met my wife sleeping peacefully. The anger left (how do you have the heart to get angry at a sleeping beauty?) and I didn’t even have the heart to wake her up. I stayed up with her, until I had to go home.
Going home alone was hard. I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to explore how I felt about the whole sad mess my life had become in the last decade, so I drank myself into a stupor, as soon as I got home and passed out on the couch.
Fast forward to two years later, I carried a baby in my arms, a screaming, wiggling baby girl, our second daughter born in the same month that her older sister, who was born still, had been born. No one gave me my child in a rectangular box this time. I didn’t have to open to catch a glimpse of my beautiful curly haired daughter, who unfortunately wasn’t breathing.
On that day, I didn’t have to make emotionally draining plans on how to get space to bury my love child, or wonder if I should bury her naked or find a piece of cloth to cover her nakedness. I didn’t have to worry about why my wife refused to see our still baby.
I didn’t have to actually drive to our house with my baby in the back seat, yet not carry her inside, just so I could grab one of the beautiful dresses we had bought for her. I didn’t have to visit a grave yard on the day that should have been my happiest day ever. Or cry through getting my baby ready for burial. I dressed my baby and she looked beautiful and peaceful through it all…I just wanted her to live but no, it wasn’t meant to be.
With the help of the grave attendants, I laid my baby to rest. They asked me if I had named her, and all the names in my head flew away, I just said, “She’s Baby T.”
But two years later, my story changed. A lively, high powered bundle was in my arms, my wife was beaming from the bed, even though she looked tired. But she didn’t want to sleep.
After our daughter Anya was born, we had three more children, and it’s so surprising that we had to wait for over ten years to even conceive, suffer a painful loss, and then just started to have the babies without any medical intervention. It is just so surprising.
But thank God, our story ended well. Even though I would have been a grandpa by now if my oldest child had lived…God surely knows best.
I know that our experience was for a purpose, even though it took me years to realise that, and even longer to realise that I never grieved the loss or even got over it.”
I couldn’t help but agree with his latter assertion.
To every TTC couple who has lost a baby or a pregnancy, here’s sending you lots of hugs and God’s kind of peace.
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here