In the twenty-four hours that followed the news that our son had passed away in-utero, we were faced with a number of decisions that we never in a million years expected to make.
Should I stay in the hospital and induce labor, or go home with him and let nature take its course? Afterall, our birth plan was completely obliterated at this point. Did we still want a vaginal delivery or c-section for a speedier process? Did I want to see him? Or hold him? Should we tell everyone what his name was?
Every pregnancy, most especially every loss is so different. Not only was I unaware that these decisions even existed, but I was in no state of mind to make the “right” choices. I had to balance my grief and sadness, with the speed at which everything was going, while furiously trying to see into the future and know exactly what future Sofia would want. It would be overwhelming for anyone, but especially more to someone with a heart in shambles.
All I could do was make the best decision with the information I had at the time; this has now become my motto as a parent. Life can be filled with regrets, especially as we navigate not-so-talked-about experiences for the first time and with a broken heart. Of course, I would later regret some of those decisions, but I choose to give myself grace for doing the best I could at the time. Only an unemotional robot could make the most rational choices at a time of crisis, and strangely, knowing this gives me peace.
But I have to admit that there is one decision I can’t seem to come to terms with completely. It weighs on me from time to time.
I chose not to take any photographs of my stillborn son.
It may come as a surprise that I didn’t think about this one for a very long time. I over-analyze almost every aspect of my life, to the point of paralysis. But I thought to myself, why would I take pictures of my dead baby? It felt morbid to me, so the answer was an easy NO. The thought of having a visual reminder of his corpse frightened me, and I wondered how often parents took photos of their deceased babies. For me, a picture would be a tangible reminder of his last minutes with me, the saddest minutes of my entire life.
In retrospect and with some growth perspective, I cherish those minutes more than anything in the world. In the seven years he’s been gone, I have met parents that made a different choice, and now they have photographs that they display proudly, publicly or privately, and I can’t help but to be a little jealous. I know I have to accept that I have no photos of him. I try my best to keep his memory alive in my heart, and of course I have my beautiful living daughters who resemble him more than I had wished for.
But my memory has definitely faded a bit, and I know it will continue to do so over time. I can barely remember what happened yesterday, nevermind a traumatic experience from seven years ago. However, it does bring me comfort to know his short existence has profoundly impacted us and our family in ways that a living child never could. And that fills the emptiness in my heart he left behind, just a little bit.
If you’re reading this and just experienced a loss: I am so sorry!! My heart aches for any parent that has to say goodbye to their child too soon. As you can tell by my experience, I would recommend to any parent in your situation to take photos, as many as you deem necessary.
You don’t have to look at them for a long time, or ever. But at least knowing that they exist, might allow you to heal more confidently knowing your baby cannot and will not be forgotten. Long after you’ve given yourself enough time to heal, you might be ready to look at them with a different perspective—one that isn’t saturated with pain and sadness, but maybe with a deeper appreciation for the short time you had with your baby.
❤️Be Healthy Mami