It happened. Around eight months into our journey we found out a family friend had lost their baby. My bodies initial reaction was to cry and feel sick to my stomach. My thoughts went straight to guilt because I thought I had wanted someone who knew what I was feeling but as soon as we got the news I instantly felt her pain and didn’t want her to have to go through what I’ve gone through.
I’m not gonna share our friends name and she doesn’t really use social media so I don’t think she will ever see this. Regardless, I have to keep continuing to share my story honestly so there a few things I need to write here in order to keep moving forward.
When we initially heard the news about this couple losing their baby, we were under the impression that it was very similar to our story. She’d lost the baby somewhere around 28 weeks, her body went into labor, blah, blah you know the story ( and if you don’t, then go here. ). We were told they were in pretty bad shape and were trying to keep the matter private. I was advised not to reach out to her immediately from our source.
I knew instantly that I needed to reach out. I needed to be her person even if I didn’t know her that well. I needed to let her know that she was not alone. Something I had needed in those early days of our loss. I remember the people who showed up those first days for us and saved us from immediate destruction.
But, you know what happened? I froze. I did what so many important people did to me. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if she wanted to talk about it. I went through over and over in my head all the reasons I should give her some room to breath. With each day I felt more disappointed in myself but somehow I just couldn’t send the message. I let the people who advised me to wait a little bit steer me away from stepping in during those first couple of weeks. I thought about her every day but it took me about two weeks to finally reach out to her. & guess what, once I did, I wished I’d done it sooner. The first thing she said was, “I’ve been wanting to reach out to you since it happened but I didn’t want to bring everything back up for you”. She was worried that since she had never reached out to me about our loss that it might seem rude or careless. And to be honest that never even crossed my mind.
I am still learning. I am still only human. I feel so stupid for not stepping up right away. But this is apart of my journey. If I can give you advise, do as I say and not as I did. Reach out to your friend right away. You are probably not going to say the right thing, but that doesn’t matter. The point is to not make your friend feel so alone. If you don’t know what to say then GOOGLE IT. There are so many great articles that will give you a brief idea of what is appropriate.
From there we briefly messaged. I offered to meet her when she was ready and I let her know she wasn’t alone and I could be there going forward in any way that she needed. I told her I had books I wanted to give her that may help a little bit once she was ready. I gave her the run down of things I wish I had been told in my first month. And then within days from that she decided, she and her husband would like to meet for dinner with me and my husband.
I feel like I should preface the next bit with a little background about my husband and I. Although it may appear we are social butterflies… we have a certain comfort zone that we don’t like to step out of when it comes to hanging out with other people. We both feel socially awkward and have social anxiety. Even more so after the loss of Benjamin.
At first we felt panic and bit of hesitation because we’ve never hung out with this couple on our own, but there is a certain duty that I feel we must fulfill to our fellow loss community. This was our first opportunity to help another couple so OF COURSE we agreed to meet for dinner. Going into it I did as little thinking as possible so that I wouldn’t over think it. This couple needs someone to talk to. It’s that simple. They need people who are not going to judge them, who are not going to ask weird questions, and people who are not afraid of them. They needed someone to tell their story to who would just listen, maybe give some advice or sympathy but from wisdom not from feeling uncomfortable.
The day came and we met for dinner. Right off the bat the couple was eager to share their story as well as their condolences for our situation. We soon found out that the story we had heard regarding their loss was completely inaccurate. Because of issues with the development of their baby’s brain they decided on a TFMR. It was a 1 in a big number with lots of zeroes chance of their baby developing this issue. You can read up on more specific details for Termination For Medical Reason. I’ve read stories and I know a couple other people who this has happened to. With Stillborn and TFMR, one is not worse than the other… they are just different.
My initial reaction to this news from our friends was to be kind of upset. I thought, “Why are we here? These people have no idea what we have been through. Their situation is so different. They had some choice in this. We had absolutely none.” Well this is partially true, I will admit that my initial reaction was terrible and I feel really guilty about it. How could I be so judgmental in such a sad situation for everyone? Because I’m human. Quickly, my opinion about the situation changed as the couple poured out their hearts and the story of what their grief had been like over the past month. All while this was happening they were raising two other living children. Something we knew nothing about.
The situations surrounding the loss of our babies was completely different. Our lives were almost entirely different. But it was clear that our grief had been the same. I needed this to happen to come to the realization that a loss, is a loss, is a loss. When they described the decisions that had to be made in the first hours and days, I felt it. When they talked about what it was like when they got to the hospital and what it is was like leaving empty handed, I felt it. When they talked about the way their friends and family had acted, I felt it. When they talked about where they were at mentally, I felt it.
I am glad I got to be there for someone else but it was hard. It was really fucking hard to bring up all those devastating moments that I never wanted to relive. & it is still hard, as I want to still be there for our friends.
The next step in our journey is reliving our last moments with Ben if it means helping another couple who is going through this, survive.
After a month passed, we met up again. This time just the women and I. Again, it was hard, but seeing the difference in her from the first month to the second brought me a little bit of joy. I could tell she was talking to me about things that she hadn’t been able to express to anyone else in her life. It has brought purpose to my life that often feels pointless.
In no way am I a hero and in no have a done enough for my friend or this loss community, but baby steps during grief deserve a pat on the back.