by Peggy Sweeney
December 22, 1983. There are no words to describe the gut-wrenching emotions I felt. As I awoke from the anesthesia, I pleaded with the nurse to tell me that my baby was alive; that my body had not killed this child of mine. She stroked my face and as we both cried she explained that my tiny baby had died due to an ectopic pregnancy. The child was not viable and I could have died had they not performed the surgery.
I knew it was my fault. I knew I had done something wrong and God was punishing me. I tried to withdraw into a protective shell but I couldn’t. I sobbed uncontrollably. I screamed, cursed, and rejected the comfort of loving arms. I wanted to die. When I returned home from the hospital, my family and friends calmly ignored the fact that this child had existed. They stressed that because it was Christmastime it was imperative that I be happy and joyful and feel blessed in spite of this tragedy for the sake of my surviving three children. I faked it. I pretended that they were right and went about my life as if nothing was wrong. Nevertheless, deep inside my heart a tiny hole burned with a passion.
Several years later, I attended a workshop for bereaved parents whose child had died before birth or shortly after birth. As the moderator took us through the various causes of infant death, I slowly felt the pangs of those horrific days in 1983. Without warning, I began to cry. As the tears streamed down my face, I was asked to share my story. It suddenly occurred to me that I had never grieved for this child. I was encouraged to give my baby a name. I did. Noel. Since I did not know the sex of my baby, I chose a name that could be used for either a boy or a girl and one that would always remind me of their short life.
Copyright Peggy Sweeney