We are imminently expecting a new baby at the Rectory. It’s our ‘5th’ Child and despite being ‘old hands’ (with a little too much emphasis on old) its as an exciting event for us as number 1 was.
But in that statement lies the dilemma I have felt since we were pregnant with our 3rd Child. When we were in theological college, we were excitedly expecting the arrival of a wee lad. Then 17 weeks in for no reason we can find, his heart stopped beating. We found out a few weeks later when a worried midwife couldn’t find a trace on her doppler, confirmed the next day by a sonar-graph – our lives quite simply fell apart.
The years have gone by and Daniel would have been nearly five, the immediate hurt and pain has gone, but there is still a Daniel shaped hole in our lives. Often I find myself thinking a child is missing when out on a walk, I count again and realise that yes there is, and no there isn’t.
I realise that we are fortunate, unlike thousands of couples who have experienced a similar loss, we do have other children. We have a lovely family and look forward to growing just a bit bigger next month. Of course our sense of loss is no less because of that – but we do have a comfort in our family that is not possible for many.
I feel it most when I have to tell people about the family.
How many Children do you have?
The conventional answer at the moment is 4 or perhaps given the expected arrival 4½. Yet all the time my brain is screaming “FIVE YOU HAVE FIVE CHILDREN”
Yet its not fair to say that to people, to say five and then explain when I only tell them about four of them. And how does that conversation go anyway? ‘Yeah, I have five children, but Daniel, well, he’s dead…..’ It’s not fair to whoever you are talking with, it’s not fair to the other children and frankly it’s not something I’d want to say anyway.
Perhaps I should bring Daniel up more, perhaps I should be braver, challenge people’s taboos about infant death – but I’m not sure I’m up to it. And besides Daniel’s loss shouldn’t be the thing that defines me – wearing it on my sleeve for so I become “the guy who lost a baby”.
I can’t help think that there is some way of not ignoring Daniel’s short but very real presence on this earth while not making uncomfortable or inappropriate statements about him.
I just wish I knew what that way might be.