Wednesday, March 7, 2007


My grandmother's second child, a boy, was stillborn. She never talked about him and my own mother (who was born 11 months after her older brother's death) had so completely forgotten about him that when my younger brother was born, she accidently gave him the same name as the child that had died.

My other grandmother lost baby after baby after baby. The only one to survive past infancy was my father, and she never quite got over the fear that she would lose him too. I would sit on her couch, a crocheted blanket wrapped around me, uncomprehending, as she told me again and again of the other children, the missing children, the ones who had vanished so completely that they might as well never have existed.

I suppose that it's only very recently that we've accepted the idea that every -- or almost every -- baby that's born is supposed to survive. And it's that belief that makes it seem not only sad, but somehow wrong or unnatural, when a mother ends up with empty arms.

1 comment:

Miz Hatbox said...

Yes, I think so. I was the reading Anne of Green Gables series and there are a lot of references to mothers having a small grave to tend somewhere, almost as if it was an expected part of life. Even Anne loses a child soon after birth. I'm pretty sure that Lucy Maud Montgomery had a stillbirth and I guess she worked it into the Anne stories to process the experience.