Monday 15 October 2012

Guest Post - The Scar

Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm, a wave of light from simple candles will travel across the world, in memory of those small, fragile lives that left before their time.

To mark this, and to honour the tears of Mamas just like you and I, Crafty by Nurture is bringing you a very unique guest post.

This post is not to frighten or upset, merely share another facet of parenthood, and hopefully bring the thought 'I am not alone' to women who are remembering today, and every day.

This is a heart-wrenching story, but one that shows so much strength and light in this woman.

Thank you, Sarah, for opening your heart to us.

Emi, x

EDIT: If you need someone to talk to, I have had Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity recommended. Thanks to Lara M-B for this.

The Scar

 - by Sarah C.

I am one of the multitudes of women who carry a scar around with them.  It isn’t one that you will see.  It is so very common, and yet it is very nearly a secret in our culture.  Sometimes it is a heavy leaden burden in the pit of my stomach.  Sometimes it is the lightest butterfly kiss reminding me of all of the many blessings that have touched my life.  Sometimes it is a raw gaping wound that leaves me gasping and crying, as if it were yesterday.

A kindly stranger sees my armful of coats and bags, the empty sling over my shoulder, the trike I am dragging through the park.  They smile knowingly, look about, intuitively connecting me with the scattered happy play of small daughters; trying to match me to the children I belong with.  “How many do you have?” they say, nodding to the sheer number of items I am juggling, or perhaps to the older child taking the baby down the slide, or the child-painted name-labelled bags of library books.

“Four!”  I say.

My heart says, “Seven.”

This conversation happens a hundred ways, different folks, different days.  Time doesn't remove that first soul-response.  I am a mother seven times over.  Sometimes I even feel guilty, irrationally stung to be leaving out the dear loves of my heart.  I wonder if I’m being rude, whether perhaps I frown or look preoccupied, or if the sensation of the truth being brushed away reveals itself to these friendly passing people.  Yet there is one sense in which I treasure the secret – don’t wish to name the scar or share it with anyone who might not understand.

Three of my babies died.

The first, I barely knew I was carrying before I knew I was losing.  The loss was shocking, nothing I had ever imagined could happen to me.  I was sad.  Angry.  Confused.  When I immediately became pregnant again, I celebrated and grieved all at the same time.  I started to feel safe, believe that I was actually pregnant again, when a day of heavy bleeding and a twelve week scan (on my twenty-first birthday) showed that we had lost another child without even seeing their heart beating or knowing a thing about them.  These were my hardest griefs, the most unbearable to me, that I should be cheated out of every tiny celebration, out of every experience that could have been consoling (or torturous) to remember.  I no longer believe in a hierarchy of loss, in which some losses are automatically easier or harder, real or not real.

Years later, two healthy children, and I felt some measure of trust for the process of pregnancy again.  I passed twelve weeks, I saw the midwife, began to show, caress my sweet little bump and take pregnancy pictures.  My darling baby swam within me safe and comfortable. 

Then one morning I woke in the early hours and my first thought was, “I am in labour.”  I was still a good way shy of twenty weeks pregnant, and I knew only two things.  That this could stop, and we would be fine.  Or that I would birth a baby who would never take a breath.

It didn’t occur to me to look for help, it didn’t even occur to me to wake my husband; I ran myself a bath and sat in a dream-like state feeling waves of contractions and not even being able to weep.  It was the most intense hour of my life.  And when I felt my waters break, and lifted my tiny finger-length baby from the bath tub, all I could feel was astonishment.

Lael was so beautiful.  My tiny pink jellyfish baby, trailing his cord on my palm.

That was the end.  It was a beginning, too.  After losing the earlier two pregnancies I had discovered many many other women with stories of their own, and I had learned the awful ways in which such losses can be dismissed as not real or not important.  I had become a sort of expert in the things to say and the things to not say.  And here I was, at a complete loss, learning how to grieve all over again, how to respect and live with my own pain.

I don’t think I will ever be an expert again, even in my own story.  I have hesitated to write like this, to repeat the tales of my own babies, not because there is nothing to say but because it is so complex and personal.  Yet we need these stories, we need to hear these real pourings-out of women just like you and I, who have lost, who know loss, who stand up and say “Me too”.

The fifteenth of October is the day Lael might have been born to us.  It is also the day of the International Wave of Light, world-wide candle lighting for pregnancy and infant loss awareness at 7pm.  As I light my candles I am holding in my heart a long list of names, the grieving families that I know – and those that I don’t.

To all of you, my sisters with the secret scars, your pain is different to mine – and so are your joys.  Your scars are different and affect you in different ways.  Let yourself be just how you are, in your truth, with the words that are comfortable to you.  Grieve in your own way, however that is.  It’s OK to feel whatever you feel.

If you know one of these families, this is the best resource that I know of for learning how to be there and offer comfort to a friend grieving the loss of a child.

May we all find healing over the years, and learn gentleness and grace to ourselves and our sister-mothers.

Here is the full story of Lael’s loss as I wrote it at the time, unedited and unrefined by the gentle haze of passing time.  Please feel free to leave this link unopened if you feel the burden of taking another’s rawest grief away with you would be too much to bear.  It is graphic and sensitive.

Lael's Story


  1. Beautiful Sarah, thank you for sharing your story. This will be of so much comfort and help to others.
    I will join you in lighting a candle tonight and sending love out to you and the others mothers I know who also bear the scar.
    Much love xxx

  2. Thank you, Sarah, for putting something so impossible to express into words. It is a scar, that is the perfect description. I will be lighting a candle tonight and will think of you and wish you peace.

  3. Thank you for writing this Sarah

    - Kendal x

  4. I could not stop crying while reading this and the rest of little Laels story. We will be lighting our candle tonight and sending you (and all the other mothers who have lost) our love and blessings. x

  5. Such beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing. We will light a candle tonight for all mamas to remember.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this Sarah.

  7. Beautiful Sarah - I truly wish for peace for you and me and for all the other mothers out there who share this awful grief.

  8. Oh such words telling of pain and loss dear Sarah, thank you for sharing your heartache. I will light a candle for all families tonight . Xx

  9. Thank you all for your beautiful comments. xxx

  10. Your words touch me deeply. Our little one would have been a November baby so this time of year always brings the loss back. The birthday that would of been.
    Thank you for sharing so vulnerable. You are right, we need these stories :)

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry for your losses. This piece really brought home to me how lucky I am to be a mama, even on the days when it feels relentlessly hard I am so, so lucky.