The hospital where you were born has a special department for pregnancy loss, with a special RN whose job is to help these special families. Families like us.
Let's digest that for a second.
There are enough babies dying to warrant an entire department, with an office and staff members trained to adhere to this unique pain, at a large metropolitan hospital in the United States.
Sometimes I still can't believe that this happened to me. I remember the moment I first read the word, stillbirth. I actually remember where I was and what I was doing. And I thought that birth should be anything but still, and that this must be the most awful word that exists in the English language or any other. And I never understood how someone comes out on the other side, and I never thought it would be me.
It makes me sick. At every one of our support meetings I think about her. The woman out there somewhere who cannot see it coming. And here we are, waiting for her in this room with our experience and our open arms. I feel like Ben Affleck in that scene from Good Will Hunting, where he tells Matt Damon that although he loves him (in so many words), he longs for the day where he shows up to drive him to their dead-end job, and Matt Damon isn't there because he's off somewhere better with Minnie Driver.
I want them to be off somewhere. Better. With Minnie Driver.
(Okay so not actually with Minnie Driver, but maybe...I don't pretend to know everyone's connections.)
How can it be that so many babies are dying? How can it be that this number, this horrible, inconceivably high number has remained so horrible and inconceivably high? Now? In the 21st century. How?
Last year in the United States, around twenty four thousand babies were born "still". Twenty four thousand and you were one of them.
Your neighbor, your sister, your cousin, your friend. Your daughter. Just like that, twenty four thousand people no one will ever know.
I mean, how is this happening?
I get so mad because we should be doing more to lessen this number. I sit in the same chair every month and in my head I'm screaming. Stop this from happening to her. The lady who is walking in right now or sitting in her car in the parking lot, crying because it's her first meeting and she can barely make it through those rotating doors, turn her around. Put her at home with her newborn son watching The Real Housewives, bitching about her lack of sleep and the spit-up smell on her shoulder. I want that for her. I don't want her to meet me and be inspired by me and those like me, I want her to never have to research such an awful word. I want it to remain this horrid parallel universe where she gets to live inside the luxury of pretending it doesn't exist.
The numbers should be lessening. We need to do more. I know you're not here and I can't change that, but I'm going to try to change other things.
I love my club. The people in my club are stronger and braver and more resilient than anyone on the planet, and I am lucky to know them. Everyone is. In fact, the people in my club should probably just walk around all day saying "You're welcome", to their friends and coworkers and the mailman because anyone should be so lucky as to know them. To know their stories and their pain, to hear about their children and their goals and their struggles, but I don't want to add anyone else to my club. The initiation is too demanding. Too permanent. Too sad. With too many ramifications. So, no more new members. No more new members.
People tell me I am strong all the time. All the time and while I know it's meant as a compliment I can never take it as such because I don't feel strong. Wise, maybe. Experienced, sure. But strong?
Or maybe it's because I would rather be weak. Scoffing at the word "stillbirth" weak. "It could never happen" weak. Thinking it would kill me weak. Writing you a letter on your wedding day weak. All three of my children in the family picture weak.
I'd give anything not to know. Not to flex. I'd give anything for her not to know me. And I hope, next month, I'm still a stranger.