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August 16, 2011


her baby, she told me….

by Andrea O'Connell

She lost another one.  Another baby.  This was the third one she’s lost in three years, she told me.

She has two other children.  A 9 year old, and a 3 year old.

Her two children were looking forward to having a brother.  After the pregnancy got far enough along, at about the fourth month, she told the children about the baby.  They were over the moon about it!   So was she.

The three of them, mom, and two children, talked about the baby every day.

The kids began to plan, as kids do, for the eventual arrival of a new brother.

The kids wanted to name their brother; wanted to pick out his clothes; they drew pictures for his room, and talked incessantly about the baby, she told me.  When the baby came, the kids wanted to take turns doing baby chores like giving the baby a bottle, or holding or bathing him.

What about diapers, she asked them?  No, that was not on their radar.  Kids their age don’t think diapers – baby’s don’t make messes in their world.

There was a mess, though. The mess occurred when the baby was nearly six months in her womb.

She is single, poor, young, no health insurance.  Without health insurance, the doctor visits during pregnancy were inconsistent.  Well, she’s stretched thin, what with two kids to feed.

And, when you’re busy trying to survive moment-to-moment, when your amniotic fluid is slowly leaking from your womb to the extent the baby becomes endangered, you may not pay attention because you have two mouths in front of you to feed.

So, you ignore it until you can’t anymore and you push out a dead baby.

But you still have to work and take care of the kids the day you pushed out the baby.

The hospital tells you the baby needs a funeral, or should be cremated.

You opt for cremation.  But, before the baby is taken away, you take pictures.

You show the pictures to people. You show people the pictures of the dead baby you just pushed out of your body?

You showed them to me.

I was looking at pictures of two beautiful children – live children.  And then there were pictures of a dead baby.  A lot of pictures.

She didn’t see the look on my face because I held myself in perfect check.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to turn away.

I was able to maintain composure but I am haunted by it.  The baby was still very pink.

I was overwhelmed at seeing those pictures and suddenly felt as if I was under water.

I can’t get the images out of my mind.  It haunts me.

What made her think that I would want to see that?

She is of a different generation, a different culture.  Is that it?   I know in my heart that she showed them to me because she trusts and likes me; I am kind to her.  I go out of my way to be kind to her.  Not everyone is.  Kind, I mean.

A week prior to the day she showed me the pictures, she told me she had picked up the Urn with her baby’s ashes. The children, she said, refused to believe her baby was in there.  The children saw the pictures of the dead baby, she said because she wanted them to understand.

She told me they are too young to understand.  Yes, I said, I imagine that would be true. What could I say? 

She’s a strong girl, though.  She is fine.  I guess if she’s able to look at her baby’s picture on her cell phone, it means she must be doing fine?

I don’t know.  I know she has to survive.

She has other business to attend to.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 16 2011

    Andrea, I can hear the distress in your words. It is good to get it out. It took courage to do what you did, which was listen, without judging, and hold it together. I am offering you my number if you need an ear to listen.

    • Aug 17 2011

      Thank you, RahRah. Yes, it was distressing, to say the least. I won’t forget that – ever. The images are seared in my mind’s eye, now. Incredibly startling. I wish I could understand why I had to see those photos. It was shocking, upsetting, but mostly, so sad. Thank you for being there. I hope I didn’t upset anyone with this story, but I needed to tell it. Hugs..

  2. Aug 17 2011

    {hugs} to you, Andrea!

    I went to a funeral of a dead baby years ago and it is most unsettling! In this day and age there are places a mother can go to free prenatal care. Someone should have told her that.

    • Aug 17 2011

      Hi Sherry – yes, it sure is. I have attended a baby’s funeral, too, in the past and it is awful! Oh, she had some prenatal care, I understand, I believe it was a result of infrequent care, sadly.

  3. Aug 17 2011

    HUGS to you, Andrea, and to the mama, who is dealing with an overwhelming grief and unspeakable love for her babe. The pics may be a cultural custom, I suspect, coming from the middle eastern culture, where death is an memorialized and honored tradition.

    • Aug 17 2011

      Hi RahRah, That’s an excellent point you raise about the middle eastern culture. She’s American though….so, I really don’t know why she would have taken the pictures. And she told me today, that when she was pushing the baby out, she was not given enough anesthesia and it was terribly painful. She also told me that after the previous baby that was miscarried, the hospital put her in a room with a mother who had just given birth! If that is not the cruelest thing to do to someone who has just lost a child, I don’t know what is….

  4. Aug 17 2011

    Maybe taking the pictures was the only way she had to express her feelings over this baby and the loss of it.
    Maybe by sharing them with a person as caring and loving as you gave her the strength to face her grief – to move forward with her life as it is now.
    Maybe she saw in you, Andrea, a compassion that she didn’t see in anyone else and felt she could show you in order to give herself the strength she needed

    • Aug 17 2011

      Well said and ITA~

    • Aug 17 2011

      Hi Kim, Yes, I know she looks up to me, which is very sweet. I do think she needed to share this with me because of the comfort i gave her…. But, I never could have imagined those pictures! And, Kim, thank you for your words of kindness and for understanding…. 🙂

  5. Faith
    Aug 18 2011

    This is indeed a very sad post and I too have a friend who,because she should have had another c-section,delivered a beautiful 8lb.3oz. baby boy. Justin was beautiful but was in trouble,they flew him to All Childrens hoping to save him,but he’d been outside the womb to long. My friend dressed him in a green velvet outfit one of our friends had given her and had a picture taken. He was so beautiful and perfect to look at. We mourned with her,her husband and her daughter like friends do. I personally will never forget Justin.
    I now need to ask if this young mother has been counseled about birth control?Continuing to get pregnant on a yearly basis is not healthy and she does need to be around a long time for her living children.
    Thanks again for all you do. Please keep up the good work.

  6. CptKD
    Aug 18 2011

    My heart goes out to you, my sweet friend!

    I am lost for words, but filled with the greatest of prayers.
    For you – And for this pained, young woman!

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of this baby, and deeply saddened for all those involved, and that, that they are experiencing as a result of this death – That includes you too, Andrea!

    I am sure, that being able to turn to you at this time, brought her that strength so needed, to carry on for that which she lost, and for those “two”, that still live and breathe before her.

    Please know, I keep you close in thought, and trust that grief and healing will come in its due time…

    For you, right now – A big hug!

    I am so sorry, Andrea….


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