BABY LOSS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Globally, October 15 is a day set aside to remember the lives of babies lost during pregnancy, during birth or soon after. It’s also a day to raise awareness and spark conversations about issues those who have lost a baby go through and how to help them in their healing journey.
At a global level, maternal health programmes and targets under the sustainable development goals should be broadened beyond increasing safe delivery and care of newborn babies to include women and their partners who have not been able to have a live, healthy baby. Maternal health should be as much about taking care of the mother and her partner through loss as it is ensuring a mother and baby are safe and alive. At an individual and local level, friends and family need to show up for those who have lost their babies and legitimise their grief. More public education needs to be done to de-stigmatise the losses, to take away the shame and blame and to explain the uncontrollable biological reasons for such losses.
WHAT IS 'THE BABY LOSS CLUB'?
The Baby Loss Club is not for the fainthearted. It is a club with non-negotiable terms and lifelong membership and no benefits. A club that nobody wants to join. Ever.
It is a million ‘what ifs’ in one thought.
It is forever searching in a crowd for a child that you know you will never find.
It is an emptiness that you can’t explain and a dull ache in your heart – even when there’s a smile on your lips.
It’s remembering dates when no one else does.
It’s saying your child’s name (or children’s names) softly to yourself because you dare not speak it out loud.
It is daydreams and night terrors.
It’s infinite sadness and indescribable thankfulness for the fleeting moments of the promise of a child.
It’s the hope that there is a ‘someday’ and the utter dread that there isn’t.
It’s the smiling and laughing and never-ending nodding to friends and family when they gurgle about their children.
It’s heart-wrenching sobs in the deep of the night, silenced by the pillow you use to try and suffocate the horrible sounds escaping from your soul.
It’s turning around in shopping aisles and walking in a different direction when your feet takes you to the ‘all things baby’ aisle for the umpteenth time.
It’s trying to explain to strangers that yes, you have a child, but no, you don’t have pictures of how they look now. It is the ever-present dull ache of what could have been.
It’s the all-consuming anger and relentless exasperation at people who can’t or won’t understand – and the forgiveness of those who do, but who still hurts your heart without realizing it.
It’s trying not to think about know-it-all people with thoughtless and empty words minimizing your unremitting pain.
It’s birthdays, and mother’s day and holidays and Easter and every celebratory day in between that you don’t feel like celebrating at all.
It’s looking for a child that looks like you, that you know isn’t there.
It’s driving in your car and sometimes skipping a traffic light or taking the wrong turn because your thoughts have been captured by someone who isn’t on this earth.
It’s dreams made of feathers and butterflies and snowflakes and bubbles and dead babies. Overwhelming dreams that you cannot share with another living soul.
It is lonely. Desperate, soul-aching, desolate loneliness that slowly carves away at your soul while you are surrounded by people.
It’s the never knowing, the always wondering, the regret, the anguish, the tears, the sadness, the emptiness, the darkness, the cruelty, the jealousy, the madness, the pain, the not-understanding, the questions, the regret, the soul-searching…
It is the all-consuming, never-ending conundrum that is child loss.
My beautiful pain that I will carry with me until I die.