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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.

parenting after loss > Getting it off my chest.

My sister-in-law recently sent me a birthday present. A sterling silver mommy necklace displaying the initials of two of my three sons, as if the one who died doesn't count. She sent me an e-mail asking if I received it and I said "yes, thank you it is lovely." Then I went to the online store she'd purchased it from and bought myself the third charm to complete it. My husband says I would not be remiss to mention the one that she forgot. I know this is true but I don't want to seem unappreciative or overreact (I have a lot of anger surrounding my loss and the way much of our society treats subjects like death and loss). I mean it's a gift and she was trying to be nice, right? Just sucks. What is wrong with the world like they want to pretend he never lived?
July 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Hi Em,

I'm so sorry about the loss of your son. I, too, have three boys. My middle son, Sam, was stillborn at 37 weeks of pregnancy in 2008. I remember my mother-in-law asking me "when we were going to have a second baby" a few months after we lost him. I remember thinking that I already had two babies. Another pregnancy would be my third.

I think I would have done the same thing you did with the necklace. Quietly include my lost son when others forgot. I don't think your sister-in-law intentionally tried to upset you.

Most people are uncomfortable with death and aren't as good as us at integrating lost loved ones into their lives. I feel like those who have lost babies have a special ability to make this loss a part of their lives. It's the only way to keep our children close. I guess it's good that most other people don't truly understand, but it's hard and very lonely, isn't it?

Hugs to you,
August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
I am sorry for the loss of your Sam. It was also our second son who died, born at 37 weeks. He was born in 2014. His name is Bobby. He suffered a brain injury in utero (cord accident) and was kept alive for three days on machines.
After our third son was born I got a couple of cards (from people who knew about Bobby) that said, "Wow two boys! Congrats," and I was thinking, "I have three."
Thank you for your comforting and insightful words. Perhaps many parents who have lost babies do have a special gift when it comes to integrating loss.
Your words helped me feel understood. Thank You.
Love and Hugs,
August 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Dear Em,

I completely relate to how you felt and what you did. And I agree with your husband, maybe at the right moment you could talk to your SIL. I am sure she did not mean to hurt you, and maybe sharing with her could strengthen your bond.

Like you and Jenny, I too have three sons. My first, Stefan, died at 8 days old in the hospital, in 2011. I had a placental abruption at full term, that left Stefan with devastating brain injuries. We have been very fortunate to welcome two healthy boys since then - they are almost 5 and 2. I realize that in many ways, I only "have" two kids. Raising them is a massive endeavor. Feeding, dressing, brushing teeth, taking them to school, taking them to the doctor - I only do that for two children. So I guess in that sense I have two... and that's what the majority of the world sees. Everyone asks me if we want to have a "third". Sometimes they don't know or have forgotten about Stefan, sometimes they mean a "third child to raise". But it does hurt every time I hear the question phrased that way. Sigh. I usually tell them - we have had three, and I wish they were all here, but I don't think we'll be adding to our family.

For the majority of parents, raising a child is the equivalent to having a child. The love that reshapes a heart forever is intertwined with all the countless chores of raising the child. We, glow mamas, know they can be tragically separate... I try not to get too offended when other people forget about Stefan, when they see me raising his two brothers. Most of the time, they are respectful and understanding if I remind them. And I like to think that maybe they learn something from that conversation.

Anyways, because I don't get to raise Stefan, and do for him all the work that I do for my other sons, it is even more important to include him in other, symbolic ways - same baby picture frame as for his brothers, same Christmas ornaments with his letter... So again, I completely get your reaction. I would have felt and done exactly what you did. I've actually been thinking about getting a necklace or bracelet with all the boys' initials. :)

Ha, I guess I needed to get some stuff off my chest too!
Sending love and hugs,
August 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMira
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am sorry for the loss of your Stefan. My living children are about the same ages as yours, mine are 6 and 2. I really appreciate your post as it made me feel less alone.
August 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEm