The Dead Baby Club. The sorority you never rushed, the membership you never purchased, the group you never volunteered to join. Quite honestly, it’s a group I didn’t really know existed until the day I got initiated. Chances are we all belong to a group we never wanted to be a part of. Maybe you lost a parent/aunt/uncle/sibling/grandparent way too early. A part of you always wants to hand in your membership card but it never expires.
My uncle and his wife got into a car accident about 6 months after I was born. Someone hit their car from behind and their truck rolled off the road. My uncle sustained minor injuries, but my aunt was ejected from the vehicle. She had unfastened her seatbelt for a moment to check on the dogs behind her, returned to her seat and was braiding her hair when their car was struck. She had massive internal injuries and swelling on the brain and a short time later she was gone at the age of 24.
The only things I know about her are what people told me. That she loved dogs, she enjoyed beating my great grandpa at board games, everyone adored her, and that she was the greatest love of my uncle’s life. Unfortunately, the only memory I have is visiting her grave.
My parents would take us to the cemetery so they could mourn the loss of their sister-in-law, and my sister and I would often wander off reading headstones together. There is a section of the cemetery called “Lullaby Land” that always beckoned us. We read names, calculated how old the babies and children were, and wondered how they died. There was even one headstone that contained a baby’s picture with a metal lid that rotated to cover it like a locket. We would wipe the dirt from the photo and stare into the face of a child gone from this world too soon.
During my own grieving period, I had close to one hundred women reach out to me. They bravely shared their stories with me and in the process shared some of my grief. Before long, I had a network of strong women praying for me, checking on me, lifting me up, and crying with me. I’m amazed that this network of women existed without me even realizing it. Women who have struggled to get pregnant on their own, who have gone through countless procedures, suffered miscarriages and stillbirths, or lost their precious infants. As my mom has always said, there is no greater pain than a parent who has to bury or grieve their child.
I like to think that my baby is in a peaceful, heavenly Lullaby Land. A place where angels sing a sweet lullaby, and my aunt and grandpas take turns rocking my little one.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for my own angels here on earth. For my mom who texts me that she loves me when I’m sitting at work with tears spilling over my cheeks. For my sister who came to Austin for my D&C and is willing to talk to me when I feel down. For my best friend who has let me grieve at my own pace and complain as often as I need. For the friends and family who have emailed/texted/called/sent flowers and cookies (my love language!!)/come to visit. For my sister-in-law who has held me and let me ugly cry on her shoulder in public. For my workout friends who support me and encourage me both at the barre and when I cancel classes. For the fellow angel mom who anonymously sent me a necklace and kind note.
So here’s my purpose for this blog. To offer a safe place to grieve our babies in Lullaby Land, to be a resource for those who feel lost and broken, to be a shoulder to cry on, to encourage someone and tell them that the pain will get better even though it never goes away. To be there with open arms when the next woman unwillingly joins the club.
Grieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child by Kathe Wunnenberg