As most of you probably know, I am a Breastfeeding Counsellor with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. I love what I do. It gives me so much joy to help educate and support Mums to breastfeed. Most of my experiences with my volunteer work have been positive although there can be moments when you see a Mum struggling or experiencing a particularly tough situation that get to you.
Recently though, I was faced with a situation that was particularly confronting for me. A couple of weeks ago our group ran a Breastfeeding Education Class. I led the group, along with a fellow trainee. Our classes haven't been very full lately and on this particular day there was only one couple (funnily enough, I actually knew the Mother although hadn't had much to do with her in recent years). They were a lovely couple. So keen and passionate about giving their baby the best start by breastfeeding. It was a pleasure to talk to them about breastfeeding. During the course of the class we also talked about the upcoming birth and how their preparations for the new baby were coming along. They were excited and ready for their baby to arrive. They only had a few weeks to go.
Last weekend I received a message from a mutual friend. Their baby had died at 39 weeks. I read the message with total disbelief. My friend didn't know details of what had happened and I still do not know. But I cannot imagine how absolutely heart wrenching this must be for them. I just wanted to cry for them. I still do.
How do you pick up the pieces of your life and carry on after this sort of loss?
How do you deal with growing a baby for 39 weeks, to get to know it intimately, and then have to deal with losing it?
How do you ever get through another pregnancy after something like this has happened?
This was their first baby. They would have had so many dreams and wishes for this baby. Instead they are faced with empty arms. I don't know what to do. I only have distant connections with this couple so don't feel that it is appropriate for me to even send a message. I just want them to know that I am here, crying a river of tears for them. To let them know that their baby will never be forgotten.
It has also made me realise, even more so, how truly precious each little baby is. What a miracle of life they are. And I am savouring every little kick the baby in my tummy makes right now.