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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Close in age babies in the family

Yesterday, almost 2 months to the day that we lost our full-term baby boy in labor, my sister-in-law had a baby boy (her second, but the first boy grandchild on my husband's side). I am so happy for them, but I am also so so sad for us and it's hard to hear them all celebrating and having the experience we just missed. I'm sad for my husband as he listens to his parents describe everything about the baby and tell us details (his sister and her husband are much more sensitive) about how he looks and who he takes after - because I know he so badly wanted to have those conversations about our baby with his parents. I can't have (or hear) those conversations yet - and I'm not ready for pictures or any contact. Luckily, we live far away so I don't have to do that or be forced into close quarters with the baby. But we're moving close to them in January and I'm sure there will be times I just can't escape being near this baby boy who was supposed to be the age twin of my own. If it were anyone other than family, I'd just say no - but I can't - it would cause my husband more pain to feel like he had to choose between me and his family when he's finally going to be close to them physically and I really want to be able to give him his family time without reservation or drama. My in-laws also aren't very empathetic - whenever we express sadness, we are told a mix of "life is tough" or "this was god's plan, so you just have to move on since you can't control it." Has anyone had a similar experience with very close in age babies that you just can't avoid? Did it ever get easier? Any tips?
June 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSR
I am so sorry you lost your son it is such a terrible thing to happen. We lost our daughter also at term, seven months ago. It is still a terrible thing and I don't see much change in my deep sadness.
My sister in law became pregnant a few months after me and had her baby four months after me, he is a lovely little baby boy and is fine. I am also so pleased for them but really struggle with any family group situation or even the prospect of them!
I have struggled more than I thought I would to control the emotion, particularly irrational anger!
I have found it easier to try and do it on my terms if possible - I went to her house to meet her son and also went alone so there wasn't mass group joy!
I have not yet been able to invite them to our home but will have to sometime and don't know how that will work out.
I also can handle asking questions about the baby and then initiating the discussion but find it incredibly difficult if someone else, my mother in law or sister in law etc start up the conversation.
I do feel terribly bad about it as we have always been really good friends and rationally I know it is not her fault or her baby's fault.
My in laws are also very religious and I do find "God's plan" difficult. My mother in law also said recently that I would feel so much better if I have another baby and that will help me put it all behind me!
My sister who is now newly pregnant said to me a few months ago that she was also devastated by Eleanor's death, mainly for me but also for her lost niece and her daughter's lost cousin.That did me make feel that other family are also sincerely heartbroken and affected. My lovely niece will go through life without her lovely cousin. Your nephew will also miss a cousin that might have been his best friend.
I suppose we just have to do our best, I also think explaining the difficulty that we have to our sisters in law helps as they would rather know that it's not personal but just something that you can't do yet. If they are good family they will understand that.
I'm sorry I can't say if it gets any easier as I am only a few months on from you. I have to hope it will for everyone's sake!
Sending love

July 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKE
SR, I'm so sorry your sweet boy isn't with you. I had a good friend due at the same time as me. I lost Shelby and her pregnancy continued, she actually said to me "I know it would be so hard to be around me with my pregnant belly when you have experienced such a huge loss, I understand that you might want to not see me and that's totally fine- whenever you are ready I'll be here". I wasn't ready until almost 18 months later and she was amazing enough to totally get it and just move forward with the friendship from that point. Her daughter Grace is the age my Shelby should be but I found it much easier to deal with once she wasn't a little baby any more.

I know it is harder for you it being family. I don't know what to say except be kind to yourself and do what you need to do to feel ok. It sounds like your sister in law and husband are very understanding so maybe they could take the lead in avoiding bringing the baby around you if possible or limit the time you spend if it's tough.
July 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
Hi SR, so very sorry you lost your boy. I also lost my baby boy back in December at 40 days old. My husband and I were all alone where we lived, so we moved in order to be near family at this difficult time - his family since I have lost my mom 9 years ago. His sister was pregnant when we lost our son and now she has a baby girl who is a bit older than he was when he passed. She lives in the same property as we do, and in 4 months I have only been there twice since the baby was born. My husband, who is very close to her and to her first born who is now 2, will not hold the baby and not will I. I do not see them much and everybody knows is very hard for me so they keep their distance and I do the same. As time progresses and we have holidays and things like that I imagine it will be really tough, especially losing our son in December, but we will have to cope somehow. We won't be living so close to them forever, we will get our own place in a few months or go back to where we moved from. I say do your best to keep your distance and help your healing that way, do not do anything that would be too difficult for you. Wishing you peace.
July 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCristiane
SR, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. Yes, A cousin of mine had a son right around when my daughter was due (she died at 28 weeks) and I was actually visiting nearby right after he was born (they live 3000 miles away). But no one, no one expected me to visit. When I mentioned wishing I could, my grandmother looked at me like I was completely nuts and said "no one expects you to do that, that would be awful. We know you're happy he's here alive and healthy. You can meet him when you're ready." Another friend also due on the same day as me had a healthy baby and like Shelby's mum, I actually didn't meet him until 18 months later when they came to visitt after our rainbow was born. It does get easier with time to see these babies but they're always a reminder of what we lost. Even when I marvel at how much they grown and what they're like, I get a little twist in my heart and a "I wonder if my girl would like doing this too." Sending you peace and love. Be gentle with yourself and don't hesitate to ask people around you to be gentle and kind to you too. I learned that saying "it would be a kindness to me if you did x at this difficult time" helps because people do want to be kind, they just don't know how sometimes (and yes they should know and you're entitled to be pussed that they don't but still, if you can manage it, it helps).
July 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAB
My niece, L, was born two weeks before we lost our son, Sam, at 38 weeks of pregnancy in July of 2008. It was difficult to be around her when our loss was fresh, but it has improved over time. She is always a reminder of what should have been. I remember emailing my sister-in-law on L's first birthday because we wouldn't be attending her birthday party. I told her were sorry we couldn't be there, but it would just be too hard. I also told her to always remember that we aren't sad because L is here. We are sad because Sam is not here. And those feelings remain now even after 9 years have passed. People understand. And, if they don't, I'm not sure that we can explain it to them.

Peace to you.

July 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
I like that Jenny, the we aren't sad that L is here, we're sad because Sam is not. That's always going to be true. Thank you for sharing that and putting it so clearly.
July 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAB
Our nephew (also the first boy grand-baby in the family in a family of girls) was born a month and a day after our daughter Evelyn died -- she was born August 15, passed August 16 and our nephew was born September 17. We live really far away from my husband's brother and his family so we haven't met the new baby yet, almost a year later, but my husband is there visiting now actually (I couldn't go for a variety of reasons but one of which was that I just couldn't stay in a house full of children who look like our daughter, one of which is a month younger than our Evie would have been, for a full week). My husband understands...not sure if my in-laws would. As we all know, it's just layered and complicated. I'm just so tired of feeling like I must rationalize or explain my grief, and I'm sure we can all relate to that.

Additionally, 5 of my close friends were all pregnant at the same time I was -- which at the time was very fun (especially because it had taken us 8 long years to conceive and my friends were thrilled to share the experience with me) but painful. All of their children were born at term and lived. They're happy, healthy, growing babies and our Evie is gone. While I feel fortunate to say all have remained close to me and are wonderful support, their children are all shadow children to our daughter, most especially one who shared my due date. And it's hard. They are reminders of what should have been but isn't. And I'll never understand why our daughter couldn't have also lived. There is no answer.

I don't know if it gets easier. I think it just gets different. At first, I couldn't even be around babies, talk about them, hear them. Over the last nearly 11 months, the pain surrounding that has shifted a bit -- I can talk about them with certain people and don't break down when I see a baby when I'm out and about -- but there are definitely still pregnancies that feel especially painful, births of children that feel like a personal affront when I know they're not. And newborns, especially girls, hurt my heart just as much as they did in the early months post-Evie's passing. Social media is truly the devil in our situation -- daily reminders, slaps in the face really, of what our life isn't. I hope the rawness softens with time but I'll admit I'm skeptical. And I completely agree -- we're not sad another child is here, we're always, always sad that our child is not. And if someone cannot understand that distinction, then I don't know how else to explain it to them. Which is so alienating, isn't it?

Hugs to all. Your children are in my heart.
July 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
Thank you all for sharing your stories and experiences - I am bolstered by hearing of all of your composure and strength in the face of such sorrow, even where that means prioritizing self-care over what people or society might prefer we do. Jenny - I love the motto "We are not sad that L is here, we are sad that Sam isn't." It's a wonderful articulation of the feeling. I also remind myself of something I took from Elizabeth McCracken's book - "If human reproduction must continue, then I prefer that people I like are the ones reproducing." I have, however, hidden or unfollowed all of my friends with newborns on social media. I have six months to go until I have to be living in the same city with this nephew, so hopefully by then I'm in a place where I feel somewhat stronger and more able to be around him at least some amount for my husband's sake.

Thinking of you all and your sweet babies.
July 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSR
I am so sorry. And I understand your pain. We did abortion at 21 weeks not to see our baby girl die and suffer at birth. I have a nephew that is one year old. Ever time I see him I feel so sad and I just want to run away. My brother doesn't understand. I'm not creating a bond with him. He's my nephew. I should. But I can't. Don't know if it gets better. Some days I feel better. Some others I cry all day. Like today. I tell my baby I would give my life to see her come back. A hug.
July 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarghy