Making A Breakthrough: Holding A Baby After Loss

August 3, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone


Jazmine is my husband's niece and Elijah's cousin. If you have read my previous posts, you would know of my difficulties with grief and finding family support, and being around another baby.

My husband's sister announced her pregnancy just a couple months after Elijah's birth and passing. No one knows how extremely difficult this was for me more than myself (and Elijah). I know that he has sent me so much loving energy and comfort during my hardest times in grief. Though it is taking me awhile to adjust, my husband can easily see and carry Jazmine and probably wonders why it is the opposite for me.

I live with my in-laws, which means that the grandparents take care of her, which means I have to see her every day of the week and sometimes on the weekends, which means grief and infertility can sometimes be extremely painful. Most of the time, I leave home for awhile for a breather or shun myself in our bedroom with the door closed. It's all too much to hear a baby in the house, moreover, the whole house sounding like a mice infestation.

I am still learning to heal my grief.

I have spent a lot of time in solitude and avoiding the in-laws and Jazmine. I just never felt openly supported or welcomed into my husband's family - I just wasn't like them. Additionally, his family - like mine - do not do well with emotional support, there was no depending on them to talk about my grief and the things I have experienced. I knew that many of the things that grief has put me through, they wouldn't truly understand nor offer what I needed, which is why I have put myself into "blogging therapy."

If Elijah was born on his due date, Jazmine would have been about three months younger than Elijah. As painful as it is to be around Jazmine, it is still a wonderful thought that if he had survived, both Elijah and Jazmine would have grown to be very close in not just age, but in the family. It is most likely that I would have asked my in-laws to care for Elijah.

This one day, when I was leaving home, Jazmine's father said that he was sorry that Jazmine couldn't have a cousin to play with. And though I knew that he was being genuine, it still hurts.

Many times, seeing her brings me mixed emotions. I'm not sure of whether to smile at her or cry. All I can think about is that Elijah would have been her or that everyone would be carrying Elijah in the same way that they are carrying her. I don't know if it was fear that caused me to avoid her, but for awhile I have wanted to look at her and possibly help her when she cries.

I think what stopped me from doing so was that no one had ever done anything to positively encourage me to hold her. I felt abandoned and neglected, so why would I do anything to care for the baby? They have never said anything to me to help comfort me. And the way my husband tried to encourage me was too forceful.

However, I have dreamed about Jazmine many times. Sometimes, I believe she or Elijah sends them to me.

I have had dreams about my husband's sister and that she left me to care for Jazmine or that I seemed to have a connection with both the mother and child. And many times, I have avoided telling my husband because I didn't want him to think that I was ready to hold her or pay her any real attention. I wasn't. But, these dreams were like nudges from someone or something that I was supposed to care for her. Again, I just couldn't do it.

Among those dreams, I had one that really stood out to me. I believe that I saw both Elijah and Jazmine talking or communicating with each other. There were two babies, one bigger than the other, and they were sitting facing each other, silently communicating or playing. I knew that the bigger one was Elijah and the other one was Jazmine; I felt it. In the dream, I was like part of an audience, watching them do whatever it was that they were doing and I wasn't to say or do anything, just watch.

Still, I put the dream in the back of my mind, knowing that it was trying to tell me something.

Oftentimes, I wonder why was it that Elijah isn't here and she is, and felt that I was so unlucky and unfortunate to lose my son. When I was pregnant, I thought that Elijah was the doorway to feeling included within the family - the in-laws. I was wrong. I have never been so distant from his family, even though I was never really close to anyone.

Grief can become isolating itself because we can feel that we are alone and no one understands.

And it was probably most likely true. I am sure that the in-laws' newest addition have clouded their judgement from understanding my grief and silence. They were busy celebrating and rejoicing. I waited for someone to truly and genuinely include me and to care for me, but I am sure that waiting is no longer an option.

I have decided to move on and focus on more fulfilling things and seek supportive environments.

As I was writing my latest blog, I stated that to this day I haven't held Jazmine. Currently, that has to be re-edited.

My husband was carrying her and gently asked if he could come into the room with her. He knew to ask this time because he did so before, without my consent, and it wasn't a good idea. He walked her around the room and she was curious to look at everything. Everything seemed interesting to her, but not until she saw one of Elijah's things. She happened to put her hands out and try to touch Elijah's birth certificate in a photo frame.

Jazmine has the biggest, most curious eyes I've ever seen and she always stares at me when I walk past her. Perhaps she is curious to know who I am because I never held or greeted her.

In our bedroom, there was a baby rolling around on our bed. I had hoped that that baby was Elijah or our next baby, but it wasn't - it was Jazmine. And while she was having fun, I seemed to enjoy her close presence. I know that babies always brings a sense of innocence and joy, they are the most innocent and joyful energy there is. But, for some reason, I can't help but feel that there is more to Jazmine, like she knows something about me and Elijah.

I felt happy to hold her and sit her in my lap and gave her Elijah's things to play with. She seemed to really like Elijah's monkey toy and didn't want to let it go. And still, she always turns her head to me and stares at me as if there is something she finds fascinating.

My mother-in-law even happened to see her in my lap and it made her smile.

While I am sure that my husband is happy to see my "progress," I do not hope for anything more than to finally feel free around her. I don't know if I will hold her again or want to, but I do know that there is a very good reason why Elijah isn't here and she is. I might not know that reason, but I do know that some day, I will understand. Maybe not now, but some day.

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