04 February 2009

A New Openness

When you hit the national news, you know that you've either had a tragedy, a drama, or a political mess up. In this case, tragedy has taken years to make it into the national picture--the tragedy of a baby born still, born silently into this mourning world.

So here it is,in Newsweek, no less, the story of so many parents, the story of how one family is coping, the story of MISS and the story of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

It is the unimaginable:

"Stillbirth happens more often than we imagine—10 times more often than sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, a condition most every parent knows about and dreads. Every year some 26,000 babies die during or after the 20th week in their mothers' womb..."

Ten times more often than SIDS! We all know, don't we, the tragedy of SIDS. But when that happens, the baby has been born breathing, the baby is taken home and cuddled, the baby is introduced to family and friends, the baby gets to cry and laugh and smile and coo. The baby and their family have been introduced to the world. I do not and will not minimize SIDS. It is just as tragic and just as awful and just as painful, I'm sure, as stillbirth. But up until now, we have all heard of SIDS and not nearly as many have heard of stillbirth.

And sometimes I wonder if it is simply because the stillborn baby does not get to come home; the stillborn baby does not get to meet the friends and family anticipating the birth; the stillborn baby does not get to laugh or cry or hold the finger of the mother and father.

And so we need to continue to throw open the closet doors. We need to come out together, as grieving parents, as families, and become our children's best lobbyists to let people know our babies mattered. Our babies were born. Our babies will not be forgotten.

We need to continue to remember so that we can become a family's best advocate, so that when, god forbid, it happens to someone else, we can be there to care for them, to nurture them, to tell them that yes, someday you will feel love again, you will laugh again and you will, most certainly be forever changed. We need to remember so that we can create memories with photographs and hand prints and foot prints if the families want them.

We simply need to remember so that we never forget.

I will never forget the way Grace's forehead furrowed as if to shout out that she too wanted to be here.

I will never forget the dark hair Grace had, like her sister Sophia before her.

I will never forget the way Grace's father bowed his head and wept and sobbed and screamed out loud.

I will never forget telling Carver and Sophia that their sister had died, that she wouldn't come home with us, that she just stopped breathing and we don't' know why.

I will never forget the way Grace smelled when my pastor and friend annointed her with oil and annointed me with oil.

I will never forget the footsteps of Beth carrying Grace down the hallway toward the morgue and away from me.

I will never forget.

I will always remember.