Monday, April 19, 2010


She was in, with a beautiful new infant, for his first checkup. Vigorous, rooting, crying, reaching, full of life and zest.

She had lost an infant, not long ago.

As I wrapped up his visit, I asked how she was managing the difficult emotions she must be having. Doctor to patient.

What I really wanted to do was to ask, mother to mother: How did it feel to give birth to a child knowing that last one that made that violent trip from your womb to the world is no longer with you? Did you sob with joy, or grief? When you hold him, does it pain you to see the blood filling his fingers? When he suckles your breast, do you see her face? Or does this amazing gift of life, again, ease your loss?

She was managing, she said. And smiled. She looked like she meant it. She looked happy.


A Doc 2 Be said...

When I first found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I was fearful... then I found out I was having another boy... and nearly passed out with fear.

As the time got closer to delivery, I could hardly wait.

Then the heart monitor and the testing and the hope and joy turned into fear again... each morning scared to death to see if this child would make it passed 6 months...

Five long, sad years had passed between my 1st son's passing and my 2nd son's birth... and yet I still had the fear. There are times even now, where I still have to see that son #2 is breathing when in deep sleep.

He has been the light of my world, my salvo, my life. Where there had been darkness and "numbing", he brought laughter, life, and love back in.

It is not like replacing a dog with another dog, which I frown upon as well, it was more that my 2nd son is a gift, to be treasured... as much as the limited time I had with my first son was.

Son that lives is now 18. His elder brother would have been 24 this past March.

That I am happy now is not wrong or mean I do not still mourn the loss of my first son. I am, and I do.

You have daughters who love and adore you, patients that trust you, and a son who loved his mother (and father and sisters) very much.

Henry will always be a part of who you are. Henry made you who you are. That cannot ever be taken away... just as a sliver of the pain will always be with you as well.

socks said...

I want to speak to this - but I can't say anything you don't already know.

In my experience I questioned how I could love a second child like I loved the first child (or the third compared to the second and so on). I believe this is typical for expectant parents.

When that subsequent child emerges it is a new person, a different person, a unique person - the miracle repeats, and love abounds.

I know that your angst is coming from a different place and is huge is comparison - and your love abounds.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with the thoughts and feelings of these ladies. The new baby is a whole different person. You never lose your child that you lost.

Snickollet said...

This made me cry. The tension between the joy and the grief is just so much to feel, as are the joy and the grief each on their own.

ADB said...

Catching up with you, Dr Smak. I notice you're continuing down the road marked grief that I know only too well. Remarking on two entries back (the child that is beyond hope): people will never give up until life is ended.
With regards to this post, I hope that the burden will grow lighter for you as time progresses. And maybe...?