Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tonight, I Weep

by Bethany Conkel

I stood quietly to the side as I watched the momma tenderly stroke her baby’s head and lean over to kiss her cheek. She was so loving and gentle. Pain gripped my heart. They had done everything right. The baby was alone, on her back, in the crib. Yet, doing it “right” did not change the fact that they still lost her.

Hot tears swelled in my eyes as I directed the grandparents where to stand for pictures. “Grandma, place your hand right here. Okay, Grandpa, lean down and give her a kiss… Yes, that’s perfect” The words sounded so very wrong as they left my lips. Grandparents should not have to be getting pictures like these taken.
I gently slid a tiny beaded bracelet onto the baby girl’s wrist and placed an angel ornament in her hand, then held medical wires that were still attached out of the way for the photographer. Next I carefully positioned a frilly pink headband just off center on the sweet girl’s forehead, framing her precious face. Although she was gone, she still had a glow about her and was simply beautiful. Then it was time for prints, I tenderly cleaned the baby’s feet and added ink to each toe hoping to capture the perfect footprint, something special for her momma to cherish down the road.
Leaving the hospital that night thoughts and emotions collided in my mind as they swirled out of control…
~Why hadn’t words come easier? Why didn’t I say this instead of that? Would it have mattered even if I had said the perfect thing? I wish I could have taken away their pain. 

And, although I know that would not have been possible, guilt clung to me like a heavy coat.
~I should have gotten more hand prints. Will the ones I got be enough? Maybe I should have used a different color ink. Does it realllllly even matter? If I had gotten 100 perfect prints it would not have made things easier.
~She had done everything right. SO many of us had done everything right (prenatals, no alcohol, the perfect foods, lots of sleep, exercise…), and yet, so many of us still had to say goodbye. I guess doing it “right” doesn’t always matter. Sometimes death still comes when we least expect it.
~Maybe I should have taken more pictures of x,y, and z. Should I offer to go back and get more?
~Why does this situation seem so much harder than my own journey with Amalya? Was it the unexpected and suddenness of the loss? Oh, how thankful I felt in that moment for the time I was given to prepare to say goodbye. Yet it still hurts that either of us had to say goodbye at all.
That night sleep eluded me for the longest time. I continued to think of this momma holding her baby girl for one of the last.times.ever. I remembered that feeling and how much it hurt. I thought of all my loss momma friends and how that pain still haunts so many of us.
Mommas, even as I write this, several days later, my heart is heavy. I don’t have answers. I don’t have words of wisdom or comfort. All I can say is sometimes this journey is just gut wrenchingly painful. I believe that we have been called to bear each other’s burdens and to “weep with those who weep”. So, tonight I weep with this momma. I weep with you. I weep for the mommas who will join us on this journey in the future. I pray that eventually peace and healing will come. But, tonight… I just weep.
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Sufficient Grace Ministries provides bereavement support for families suffering the loss of not only a baby, but a child up to age 2. Bethany had the opportunity to walk with this family and provide support through SGM.
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Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research. Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday.com and serves with Sufficient Grace Ministries.


Anonymous said...

Oh Bethany,
Your work as a doula is a ministry. I never though of the women who help bring babies into this world, only because it was the neo-natal nurses who were with me when our Aislynn passed. I felt certain their jobs were the hardest never thinking someone like you would have to walk that journey with parents. Tears are enough, words don't matter, just a gesture of compassion and an overflow of love is all that you can do to help and it is certainly enough. God bless you in your ministry of helping to bring precious babies into this world. You have answered a special calling.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I still remember the day the photographer came in to take pictures of my precious baby girl, Faith. I was so thankful to have those pictures. I just wish she was still here and we didn't have to get those pictures. Just the fact the woman came to take the pictures was such a blessing to us. She was so tender with my daughter and so compassionate towards us. I will never forget the photographer. It has been 2 years since my baby girl died, I miss her so much.

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