Feeling kind of melancholy today - not seriously so, but a little. 41 years ago today, my brother Walter died and was born - in that order. My dad was out of town at the funeral for the father he never met when the son he would never meet died. How heart-wrenching is THAT?
As with most stillbirths, it happened in the middle of the night. My mom says she had "one big contraction that didn't uncontract." She hasn't mentioned it, but I'm sure she started bleeding b/c what happened was placenta abruptio. If she hadn't gotten to the hospital in time, she could have bled to death.
I woke in the morning to find a babysitter in my parents' bed instead of my mom. At the time, I was almost five years old. I really don't remember being aware that my mother was pregnant, but I do vividly remember getting up that morning and finding the babysitter.
Having lost Paul, I have something of an idea of what my parents felt (though I'd never presume to say I *know* what they felt b/c "Each heart knows its own bitterness...." Ps 14:7a, NIV), and having met so many parents of stillborn children through SAND/HAND, I have something of an idea of what they went through*. Back in 1969, however, the mentality was more along the lines of "It will be easier for the mom if she never sees the baby. Act like it didn't happen, and she'll be able to move on." instead of the current, healthier, "This is a real child whom she loved and needs to be able to say good-bye to. She will process her grief much better if she can do this." We are SO fortunate today that medical caregivers have (mostly) figured this out. Nothing can make experiencing a stillbirth easy, but this understanding can make it a tad easier.
Though nothing could ever make a loss like this worthwhile, sometimes good things can happen because of it that make the burden a little lighter. In this case, that "good thing" is my sister. My parents were only planning to have two children, so if my brother had lived, yes, I would have had him, but I wouldn't have had my sister. No person is a substitute for another, but I'm sure that as much as my parents were devastated to lose Walter, they are glad to have Christa. I know I certainly am....
* For a glimpse at what this can be like and to learn more about stillbirth, read our friend Suzanne's story "Calling All Angels".