Let me explain. About 21 years ago, my wife and I were expecting our second child. It was a long-awaited sibling to our five-year old daughter. The pregnancy was normal, but the joy of a new baby suddenly turned into sorrow. Three days before the birth, the midwife could no longer hear the baby’s heartbeat. It was very difficult to understand the tragedy that had hit us so suddenly. We got the advice from both the midwife and the doctor to give birth to the child as normal as possible. They asked us to go home over night, and return the next morning when we would meet the same staff again. We went home, called our relatives and friends, and told them that our new child was dead. We were in a state of chock. A few hours later my wife suddenly went into labor, and we had to rush back to the hospital.
Back at the hospital, the midwife said to my wife “Now you are going to give birth”. These words made us forget all about our worries, and turned our focus on being present in the moment. The birth itself was beautiful, one of the most beautiful moments in my life. My wife was breathing. I was breathing and the staff around us was breathing. However, my son Anton was stillborn. He was not breathing, or crying. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck four times, and it also had a knot on it. We stayed over night, and the staff was incredibly supportive. Slowly we started to realize our loss. We took a lot of photos of Anton, cut off a piece of his hair to keep as a memory. They recommended us to give Anton a bath, and we did. Later I have learned that this practise helped us to sense the beauty of our beloved son with all our senses. This was a way to create memories, and to start the process of grief recovery.
That day and night when Anton was born, I was in deep sorrow. The loss of a future, a future with my living son was enormous. But that night when I tried to go to sleep, I was also happy. I was as happy as any father to a new-born baby. Happiness mixed with grief. Thank you Karin, my wife, for all your support. Thank you Elin, for showing me how natural a child can handle grief. Thank you Moa, for breathing when you were born one year later.
// Leif Ericson, grief counsellor and coach – guest blogger.
Leif, thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for being my friend.// Love Marianne
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