The Journey Home: Leaving with Empty Arms
The hospital bag is packed, everything ticked off on the list.
The nursery paint has dried, the cot mobile hangs in anticipation of the little one it will entertain.
The first outfit for those all-important hospital snaps has been selected and placed at the top of the baby’s bag.
And then you wait.
Those last few weeks drag on for an eternity.
As your movements get more laboured with the ever-increasing weight of the child you carry, well-meaning friends and family drop you text messages asking,
“Any news yet?”
Then one night, the pains begin, rolling in and out like the waves.
Your husband sits timing the spaces between contractions before making that crucial phone call to the labour ward.
This is it.
270 days of careful planning, hopes and dreams and careful considerations, trips to Mothercare, trawling through baby name websites, ultrasound scans and midwife appointments, deciding when is the best time to announce the exciting news to loved ones.
This is it.
The rush of adrenaline and emotions is euphoric.
The pain; unlike any other; is pushed through with courage and determination, the like of which you never knew you had.
Eyes on the prize, this will be the day when you finally meet your bundle of joy.
You wait with eager anticipation for that first cry, the first sound of life, the first expression of
“Here I am!”
But there is only silence.
The buzzing around of medical professionals, calling instructions to each other, the whirring and beeping of machinery and monitors, all fade into a dull background noise like one of those dreams where you seem present but not quite.
Where is your baby’s cry?
And the silence.
The doctors may offer a possible explanation but it does not suffice.
This was not meant to happen! What are you going to do now?
How are you to even think about announcing to your well-wishers that there is no good news to be shared?
In a few days’ time, you will be leaving the hospital with an empty car-seat and returning home with empty arms to the empty cot where you often stood and imagined your sleeping child would be.
How does one even think about making that journey, leaving with empty arms?
Many have travelled this difficult journey after having their hopes and dreams shattered.
Yet they survived.
And you will too.
Here are five ways shared by other parents who made the journey home and coped with the hours, days and weeks to come.
Know Allah’s Near
Know that Allah, the loving, compassionate Lord of all, is near to you.
You may, in anger, question His reasoning and lash out with words of fury and rage. Know that He is still there for you.
Speak to Him and pour out your sorrow to Him.
Allah loves you and has much reward in store for those who are patient in the face of adversity.
Hold Your Baby
This may be the single most difficult thing you ever have to do in your life, but if you don’t do it, you may regret it later.
Tell your child you love them and that you will miss them, but that you look forward to meeting them in heaven God willing.
Tell them that just as Allah was taking care of them before their birth, He will continue to look after them until the day that you are reunited with them.
Write your baby a letter with all the things you want to tell them.
Normalise Your Grief
The emotions you are feeling are normal and necessary to help your mind and body cope with the enormity of your loss.
Do not feel pressured to have to speak to anyone else until you are ready.
Lean on your spouse, speak when you need to and hold each other in silence when you need to.
Allow Yourself Memories
If you were not doing this during the pregnancy, write down what you remember about first kicks, conversations about their name, and anything else you wish to remember about your child.
Add photos and other memories to the collection.
It may seem a strange thing to say, but celebrate your child.
They brought you months of excitement and anticipation, feelings of gratitude and fulfilment.
Celebrate all what your baby brought to your life and cherish the time you had with them, even though it now seems the briefest of moments.
Take a Step-by-Step Approach
The journey ahead will not be easy but, step-by-step, you will get there.
When things get tough, imagine the following scene: you are standing on the Day of Reckoning and you glance up to the gates of heaven, whereupon you see a child whom you recognise.
You are looking at this child, remembering the time when you first laid eyes upon them.
And then, when it is announced, God willing, that you too, will be amongst the dwellers of heaven, you rush towards your child and embrace them.
Know that after this, there will be no parting and no more goodbyes, and finally the silence will be broken.
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