My 96 year old grandmother recently told me that she lost two babies before my dad (her firstborn) was born. One of them was very early, but the other one was delivered by her at home. It was on a night that she was by herself. My papa, her husband, owned a restaurant and worked late into the evening on most nights.
When she told me this, I was so upset for her. I asked her who did she call to help her? How did she handle it all? Her reply was this: "Who was there to tell?"
She went on to tell me that she didn't want to bother my papa during the dinner rush and that her mother would have told her to deal with it and keep moving. She was very close to her sister, but chose to keep it private. In fact, she kept it private for many years. It wasn't until her 2nd son, my uncle, died at 18 years of age, that she mentioned that little baby again. She had thought about her baby many times over the years, but never felt that she could talk about it. But, when my uncle died, the old emotions came to the surface.
But, even then, she wasn't encouraged to continue talking.
When I lost my baby, she told me to move on. To forget it all and be strong. I got really mad and didn't speak to her for a while. It wasn't until recently that she shared her story with me. And now it all makes sense. She was afraid no one would listen if I wanted to talk about her. She had been there and walked in my shoes. She had felt the pain and suffered in total silence. For 70 plus years, she has suffered in silence.
I understand. While, the culture of pregnancy loss is changing and people are encouraged to openly grieve, there are still many people who have no support. There are many who feel like they can't mention their beautiful baby's name or show their picture, for fear of being misunderstood. There are many people in the world who think that the loss of a baby is insignificant. They are the ones who have never buried their children or celebrated a birthday for someone who is gone.
So, in many ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The other day, I called my grandmother and asked her to tell me all about her baby. She sat on the phone for a while and I started to worry that I had overstepped. And then, she did what I had hoped she would....she told me all about her baby.