Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A time to remember - a post for Baby Loss Awareness Week

It was a long time ago now, that first experience of baby loss. I’d hardly known I was pregnant when my sleep was disturbed by fearful dreams – and in the morning, blood – so much more blood than I had imagined.

Not long married, I’d been uncertain that I even WANTED to be pregnant until that possibility was taken away, before I had really come to terms with it’s reality.

And I wept, and wept again – wondering if, like my own mother, I would now spend a decade failing to conceive, wondering if the arms that suddenly longed to hold a child might be left empty for good.

I was blessed that time. A visit to my GP to lament the fact that I felt sick and tired even though the miscarriage was now some time behind me revealed that the reason for those symptoms was a new pregnancy – not a replacement for the lost baby but a whole new focus for hopes, dreams and imaginings. And in time my daughter was born, and it was very good.

Only then it happened again. And again. And again. Each time later in the pregnancy, culminating in my little Matthew, born at 19 weeks on Bonfire Night But because of one successful pregnancy, I was told there was no need to investigate. It was, apparently, “Just one of those things”…and it was inappropriate to mourn the losses when I had a beautiful healthy daughter to enjoy.

Somehow what was appropriate didn’t matter. Mourning did.

For a while it wrecked my burgeoning relationship with God. The day I sat in a wretched heap in the car outside Brompton Oratory while my husband was at Mass, yelling at the Almighty “You needn’t think I’m going in there to worship YOU you  ****ing ****” – and heard a voice saying, quite calmly “That’s fine, Kathryn. I’ll just stay out here with you then” was a turning point – but it took a long time before I was able to LIKE God again.  

Some good things, many indeed, came from the experience.

Friendships that have lasted many years.                                                                                                       An NCT conference on baby loss which drew women together from across London and beyond, even in a snow storm (I’ll never forget the sight of Prof Winstone sitting on the platform in his snow boots, because he’d walked across London to be with us – nor his promise to us that he, at least, saw our losses as bereavements and not just as medical events).                                                                                                                                                                    A sense that that perhaps I have a better understanding of some kinds of grief now, and that that understanding is a precious gift in ministry.

But – I might have had 7 children (maybe 9 – but perhaps we just count those positive tests that came to nothing). SEVEN! And still, 25 years since the last loss, I’m uncertain how to answer when I’m asked how many children I have.

So, in this Baby Loss Awareness Week, I’m counting them all.

Each one loved and precious to God – and to me.


Stephen said...

Kathryn. What a wonderful thing to be doing in the cathedral - and so many thanks for posting your blog piece. Mother of 7 = what an achievement. And, of course, they are all children. When apple trees have their "june drop" - what falls to the ground? Well, apples, of course. Maybe not well enough formed or suitable for full life purpose (sorry, not a good expression, but let's go with it) and your lost babies are surely similar. And, of courses, they are now in God's love, quite as much as you and your three adult children. Uncuddled, maybe, but not unloved and not to be dismissed. Ribbons seems like a gently perfect way to remember, even celebrate them. I'll be thinking of you this week - and all those cherished babes.

UKViewer said...

A powerful testimony of how this situation can affect your life, and mourning for a child not born is as painful as losing one post birth. If all of our pregnancies had survived, we'd have had four children. In the end, just two pregnancies came to full term and we had two lovely children, three years apart.

As a Father, people think that this sort of loss doesn't affect you, and to be truthful I bottled it up, only to realise years later, when in the discernment process, when you had to examine your whole life did that grief, hidden, absorbed somewhere in the depths of the mind come to the surface and I faced the reality of what could have been.

I don't have any thoughts like yours, just a sense of loss, which is below the surface most of the time, but resurfaced in the past two years when first an older brother died, than my younger sister. I grieved for all of them all over again.

I suspect that we all go through this when some sort of life event happens, particularly as we face our own mortality. Wondering when and how we might meet those we've lost and the promise of Revelation that all tears will be wiped away.

Coming towards All Souls will enable me to hear the names of those who died, but not the names of those who were never born, named in our hearts, but not on any official form. I can remember the confirmation words of the Bishops "Your are called by Name" (or something like it), I wonder what names the unborn are called by>