This has been a hard post to write. I've carried it around for weeks now, turning every which way, thinking of how to start, how much to say, what to call the thing. The title didn't materialize until last night, and when it did, it wanted to be "Deadbaby FAIL." Which, really, is ridiculous. Because isn't having one of your babies be dead a big fat FAIL all by itself?
And yet, here it is, the topic that's been messing with my head ever since I heard that the nice lady rabbi, the one who came to the hospital the morning I was in labor with A, the one who officiated at his funeral, the one who then officiated so very graciously at the Cub's bris, is pregnant. It's not really about her being pregnant-- I sincerely wish her nothing but safe and easy pregnancy and delivery (which, man-- she's going to lead High Holidays services at 7 months plus, so the easy part is not bloody likely). What it is about is that in a class the rabbi is teaching for new parents and parents-to-be, she said they are not telling anyone, including their children, the sex of the baby she is carrying because they realize that it doesn't always end well, this pregnancy business, and this is the way they are trying to soften the would-be blow for the kids, by limiting how much they would bond with the baby prior to birth.
My first reaction to hearing this was the nearly instantaneous appearance of a big giant head of steam. It has since chilled into a not exactly set in stone decision to go talk to her, to gently caution her that this not bonding through not revealing the sex thing might not work all that well. Not that I want her to ever find out. Or think that she is likely to. But she's talking to people in a class setting, and it's possible that someone some time might find out.
I've also been thinking about whence came my head of steam in world record time. Seems I am not the sharpest tool in the deadbaby box, 'cause it took me a little while to figure out the steam was really about what I now believe to have been my, ours biggest FAIL in the wake of A dying.
Coming up on the two year anniversary, I was obsessed with pictures, with having taken too few, with them being of what I will generously call below average quality. The whole thing was spurred on to some degree by how many pictures of the then-four-months-old Cub I had by then on my computer-- hundreds and hundreds. I had to remind myself, more than once, that no, I couldn't have had my digital SLR at the hospital to take the pictures of A with because-- duh-- we didn't get the digital SLR until nearly a year later. Duh indeed.
And then, not six months later, my daughter taught me what the real FAIL of those days was.
Monkey wasn't even five when A died-- five and a half weeks short of five, to be exact. I know because his due date was the day after her birthday, so yeah, I know. She loved him fully and without reservations. She loved him from the second she asked if there was someone living in my belly, and I said yes, from before we knew he was a he. If I am entirely honest, she probably loved him from before she knew he existed, so much did she want a sibling. A sister, preferably. Which she admitted, honestly, after the sonographer said "it's a boy"-- "I wanted a sister," she said. But barely ten minutes later, coming out into the lobby, she was all about her brother in there.
But she was so little, so very little. And so we didn't bring her to the hospital. In fact, we didn't tell her until we got home because we didn't want it to be anyone but us telling her. And then we made the decision to not take her to the funeral. It was a selfish decision, in that it allowed us to focus entirely on ourselves and our own grief on that day, instead of having to help her navigate hers. But to be honest, there was also a lot of pressure to not take her from my mother in law.
We showed her the pictures when she asked for them, and we still do, when she asks. We took her to the cemetery later, and we still take her when she asks. But she never had the tangible experience of holding his physical body, or seeing the casket-- of having a physical object into which to pour her enormous love. And last summer, slightly less than a year ago, it all came crushing down with an enormous meltdown. An epic meltdown, with sobbing and crying, and the talk of how she wishes we didn't have to bury A, of how she wishes she could've gotten to hold him and then bring him home, so she could keep holding him. We got through it, somehow. Though even now, when I think back on it, my heart hurts and beats faster, and there is a knot in my throat, and another in my gut.
So there it is-- my biggest deadbaby FAIL. Also, probably, my biggest parenting FAIL to date. I don't feel guilty about it-- it was the decision we made at the time, with what we had to work with, with what we knew, with who we thought we all were then. But I do feel sad about it, deeply, deeply sad. And what I want to say to the lovely lady rabbi is that while everyone's mileage may vary, when it comes to dead babies, less is definitely less, and one day a bereaved sibling may decide that it was just too little.
What are your regrets about events and decisions you made in the aftermath of your baby's death? Are there are people in your life who wish to have been more involved? Less? How do you feel about it all?