Today my dear friends should be celebrating their daughter’s thirteenth birthday, just like they did for their eldest daughter’s eighteenth birthday a few weeks before, and just like they will for younger son and daughter in a few weeks time.
This is one anniversary that brings much empty, aching sadness to my friends. There is no birthday party today, no welcome teenager Facebook posts. Just a lovely dedication from my friend to her stillborn daughter.
The raw pain still palpable. Life has gone on, but with cracks.
There should have been a new teenager celebrating her life, not the rest of us celebrating her short but sweet presence on this earth.
I admire my friends for having the courage and conviction to openly speak of their lost loved child, and keeping her real for all of us. Her life may have been over before it began, but she was loved no less by her family. That she is remembered and spoken of fondly.
While I have never lost a pregnancy or child I have been around friends who have. I have also worked as a birthing midwife for much of my midwifery career. While this is truly the saddest part of my work, I often reflect on some of the families that I have cared for with a stillborn baby, and they are fond and touching memories that I carry with me.
While it is overwhelming trying to support a mother in labour, knowing that the child she carries will never breathe, and to keep doing my work amidst the suffocating sadness that weighs on the room.
From silence that is deafening to outright howling; the pain trying to escape from the mother's vocal cords. It rings in my ears for days to come. The why's, what if's, if onlys, that parents search for the answers to this desperate situation. There is a closeness that is developed between us. That I am allowed into a family's life in one of their most private and traumatic days of their lives. Our bond is unique and special.