To think about it from the outside looking in, finding out your baby is dead and then still having to go through the process of labor and give birth to him, and then the subsequent recovery, sounds nothing but torturous. The reality, like many experiences I’ve had so far in this grief journey, was bittersweet.
For seven months my baby was connected to me by a cord, plugged in essentially, and he was in constant, vital need of me to survive. He needed me to eat, take vitamins, and stay hydrated. My blood flowed through his placenta, supplying him with the oxygen and nutrients he needed to grow and thrive. With every beat of his heart, that demand for sustaining his life was there.
When his heart stopped, he no longer needed me to take care of him. This is both a very sad truth and a comforting reminder. Sad, because as his mother I was expecting to soon be caring for him just one day beforehand. I expected my days would be consumed with nursing, diaper changes, sleepless nights, and baby snuggles. Happy, because I knew his every need was now satisfied in the presence of his Creator.
It’s not so unusual to want to do something for our deceased loved ones when we are helpless to do the one thing we would really like to – to bring them back. Sometimes, it takes the form of carrying a coffin, scattering ashes, or looking after the spouse or children they may leave behind. The one last thing I could do for him, or for the body he had inhabited during his short time here, was to give birth to him. All the pain was worth the sixteen hours I got to spend memorizing his every feature.
Finn may no longer need me, but I need him. My body aches for him, not just emotionally, but real physical aching of a distressed postpartum body. Just like any mother needs her babies, I have an unfulfilled need to comfort him, nourish him, rock him to sleep, protect him and help guide him through the world. And though I need him, all I can do for him now is love and honor him for the rest of my life, and love and serve the God who gave him to me.