I have two kids. My son is almost 18 months old, he’s tall and skinny – all long arms and long legs. He wears denim leggings and little t-shirts that hang off his thin frame. He’s just started walking, and he now toddles around in a pair of mini brown boots. His first word was ‘Mama’; my heart melts whenever he says it.
He’s inquisitive and funny. Is constantly jumping from one thing to the next, always busy – no time to eat. He loves driving small cars around the house and is a whiz on the small balance bike he just received. He can recognize a few numbers already and loves zooming down the slide in the park near our house.
My baby is an adorable 6-month-old girl. She’s round and chubby with a smile that lights up a room. She’s a real pleasure of a baby; she loves cuddles and kisses. She’s easygoing and content to play happily with toys or empty the kitchen cupboards.
She’s just started crawling, so she gets all over the house. She eats nicely and, thankfully, goes down to sleep easily. I dress her almost entirely in pink and frilly clothing.
If this would be my life, I would be busy. Very busy. My days would be a hectic scramble of feeding, playing, dressing, and washing little ones.
I would probably be overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of things I’ve got to do daily. The list of jobs that must be done to keep a house of little ones running.
Likely tired. I would sink into my bed at night, grateful for a few uninterrupted hours of sleep – however rare that might be. I would consider myself lucky if I managed to get a short power nap while the kids were resting.
But I don’t think I would realize the extent of my blessings. I doubt I would feel gratitude for the simple yet incredible gifts. And I scarcely think that I’d realize even for a fraction of a minute – what my life could look like on the flip side.
You see, my little boy has been lying still and cold for nearly 18 months, a ten-minute car ride away – in the local cemetery. When he was born, I held him close and hugged him. I touched each of his beautiful fingers and toes. The nurses exclaimed over his long and gangly legs. I admired his peaceful face and tiny nose. The shape of his small chin. His precious ears. He was born breech. To me, it felt as though he was trying to make his entrance into the world something memorable.
Because I didn’t take him home, he never wore the clothes I brought for him. I never wheeled him out of the hospital in a brand-new blue Doona. Instead, a kind nurse took him to the mortuary. And I have never stopped missing him.
My little baby peanut – she entered the world before we even knew whether she was a girl. But in my heart, I knew she was a girl, and, in my heart, I knew she would be wearing frilly pink dresses (which is interesting because I would never put a dress on a baby girl – not until they were walking at least.)
She was born so, so tiny. I didn’t even know if I wanted to see her. But I did. And I’m happy I did. My little princess.
My life is this side of the coin.
Where I am a mother – to angels. Where my arms ache with emptiness as I long to hold my babies. Where my heart feels like it might explode from my body with the love and desperate desire that I have for my babies. I want to be there for them – to do what every mother should do for her children – to protect them. But I am denied that right.
Where I am also busy. Sometimes too busy, to try and fill that gaping black hole inside me. And sometimes too busy so that my brain doesn’t have time to think. Because to think would mean to remember everything that I didn’t bring home with me. And I’m also overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed with loss, grief, and with anger too. Losing my babies means that I’ve lost parts of myself too. There is a whole new reality for me to wrap my head around.
And tired. I sink into my bed but can’t sleep because I’m thinking and remembering my babies. Insomnia is my new night-time companion. I wake up bathed in sweat because I’ve dreamt that they were alive. Alive! Only to be jolted back into reality by the empty space next to my bed where there is no crib.
On this side of the coin, there are no answers; what there is, is pain. Lots of pain. Piercing and intense pain. There is no guidebook, no rules. We have to fumble through it ourselves – constantly wondering and questioning how messed up we really are.
If you’ve read this, and it’s made you think of your own baby – the baby whom you never brought home. Your baby who is constantly on your mind – yet you never talk about, so as not to make others feel uncomfortable. Then know that you aren’t alone. Know that there are hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of women just like you who dream of their babies. Who want them. Who miss them. And who understands you. Who really and truly identifies with what you’re feeling like now.
Take the support of hundreds of thousands of sisters around the globe who are missing a part of their hearts. We stand behind you, we get you, and we love you.
Chani Corn is a resilient biology teacher from the UK who channels her pain into powerful and poignant writing, particularly exploring the heart-wrenching experience of losing her beloved babies.