Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living the Statistic

Sometimes I like to Google search sad things like stillbirths. You know, to somehow be reminded that I should have more pity on myself or something. I should probably stop.

In the world of blogging and the internet, it allows us to feel less alone. We meet people who have similar experiences. I communicate with someone who gave birth to her baby, born still, on the same day Andrew was born. We share the same sad anniversaries of seeing our babies without life. We may have shared the same birthday had our children lived, as well. Oh, how I wish that were the case. Instead, we're bonded like sisters, forever carrying an equal void of sadness and loss that our babies are not here with us.

About 1 out of every 8 times I share our story, the person listening also shares that they knew someone or is a person whom has experienced the death of a baby. While I follow many blogs and have spoken to many wonderful, grieving mothers like myself, I'm also stunned at what a small world it really is. When I Google searched just a few hours ago, I saw women on message boards talking about their losses that I already know through blogging and email. Are we really the only ones? It feels like a small world in the grand scheme of the internet and the 12,100,000 results Google spits out onto my computer screen.

I sometimes look at the statistic of 26,000 stillbirths a year as astounding. 26,000 families (or some families with multiple losses. Gut punch.) going through the daily process of realizing their child will never walk on this earth. 26,000 babies that were loved, cherished, planned for, and desired. {When you add miscarriage and infant death to the number, it jumps to nearly 1 million. Not to diminish those losses or forget them, but just isolating one incident of sadness-- because God knows, they are all babies we will forever grieve.}

Then I think about the number of births each year at our local hospital alone (serving a community of about 150,000 and surrounding areas) being about 4,000 babies--though I specifically remember them saying it was more around 6,000 in 2009 alone at one of our baby prep classes (read: what a waste). I'm not sure if 4,000 is an old statistic. But even so, this one hospital alone accounts for such a small percentage of births in the US, yet 4,000 babies is quite a few when comparing it to the number of stillbirths in the entire US population. Then there's always the statistic of stillbirths with unknown reasons wavering between 25-50% (yeah, could they narrow that down more, please?). So that leaves us in the population of roughly 13,000 other unexplained baby loss in the entire US every year. Those odds are pretty freaking low. Lucky us.

In researching for this post, I read that in 2006, a poll of pregnant women indicated 13.2% smoked during their pregnancy at some point. And I bet those terrible people are abusive happy parents to living 5-year olds as I type this. That's where I want to cry, kick, scream, and stomp my feet yelling, "UNFAIR!!!" Because I did nothing to jeopardize what a precious gift I was carrying in my belly. Of course I hope those babies did live despite their terrible caregivers (do they even deserve the "parent" title?) because I believe that no matter how foul you are and how much wrong you do in life, a child dying should never be a consequence for your actions. I just hope they've matured and learned how best to care for their children now while they're lucky enough to still have them.

Just still stunned. In exactly 14 minutes, it will have been 4 months since I gave birth to my lifeless baby. I miss him still so much every single day. Still feeling cheated, angry, and often still living in shock that such a rare and life changing experience would happen to us. 1 of 26,000. And the odds are so unlikely. Never do I think to myself that I am not a part of the statistic.

When I dropped my husband off at the airport for his first flight out of the US since Andrew died on Saturday, I drove away hyperventilating. I probably should have pulled the car over. My eyes were filled with tears and I was crying the ugly cry. It's the one where you cannot catch your breath and ugly shrieking noises come out. I have not, to my knowledge, ever cried like this in my life until Andrew died. It even catches me off guard sometimes. I'm 28 years old and never experienced a deep cry quite like this. It may have taken 28 years for the onset, but it's apparently here to stay. I would normally drop him off nervous, but now that I know it is indeed possible to be that statistic and that bad things don't just happen to other people, I freak out. It felt just like I did in the hospital before and after giving birth to our baby. That sense of uncertainty and trepidation.

On this 4 month date, I miss that boy more than ever. That little boy we wanted so much.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Dear Andrew- you have a fantastic momma.

Thinking of you Brandy. :)

Sherri said... [Reply to comment]

Thinking of you and Andrew tonight, and all day tomorrow! Four months sucks!

And LauraJane is right!

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

Thinking of you both. Sorry to hear that your husband has to be out of town also.
And I also agree with Sherri and LauraJane that your a fantastic momma and Andrew knows it

Jill said... [Reply to comment]

Big hugs, and I am always thinking of you sweetheart. <3 Andrew <3 anniversaries are hard, very very hard.

I remember the "cry". I never , ever thought one can cry so hard in so much pain.Gut wrenching horrible pain, the screams one can have just out of pure pure pain and heartache.

I was on a walk with my rainbow baby Sadie the other day with my sister (shes 15) and well we were chatting and the mention of and I QUOTE "you were crazy back then". Wait, what you ask? Yes she said those exact words to me.

I said what do you mean? "after I Naomi died?". She said yes. I was shocked. I can NEVER explain to her or anyone how it feels to have lost someone, that you caried for x amount of days or weeks or months, and have it come crashing down. I just said "I don't wish it on anyone" and switched the subject. It STILL keeps rining in my ears, those words.

I would go "crazy", you name it, I did it or yelled or screamed or cried it in pain. Losing Naomi, took the best of me . It hurts ALOT STILL , and me hearing htose words in my head, just brnigs me back to those horrible horrilbe days.

I wish I had words to say of comfort, I do agree tho, you are a wonderfyul mommy. Don't let anyone ever tell you that. <3 Andrew <3

Shell said... [Reply to comment]

Thinking of you...

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

I just wanted to add that I had been thinking a lot about the statistics you posted about stillbirth. I was never aware until I lost Liam just how common it is and never really read any statistics since I am still having a hard time with the doctors classifying Liam as a stillborn. I have always felt that him dying in surgery created a new statistic in itself.
Anyway just wanted to say thank you for sharing that info since I never read about that considering I have googled a thousand other things

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I sometimes think "wow, this happens so much more than I realize" and then I agree that sometimes it still feels like a small number because I cross paths (via blogging, internet, etc) with the same people.

As for that cry - it really is the ugly cry. I'm sure I look just fabulous too! I remember when they first told us our baby had passed, it wasn't even a cry I let out - more like a scream, it's like my body didn't even know how to respond so this horrible sound came out. I hate thinking about that sound.

I love your writing - Hang in there and even when you miss Andrew so much and find you are at a low, remember that you are just remembering your sweet boy and that is a wonderful thing. So even the dark days have some tragically beautiful meaning.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

OMG, I just wrote you the LONGEST comment ever and it got erased! Grrr! Let's try this again...

I know what you mean when you say you miss him more than ever. I feel the same way! I thought this was supposed to get easier. Maybe the dealing with it and functioning, etc. is getting a tad easier, but I really do miss him more than EVER. Reality is setting in, and it sucks. Four months. Wow. I am coming up on 8 months next week. Not sure how to do this for the rest of my life. Can't even think that far ahead.

Wow... those stats. I can't believe there are so many yet so few. AND WE ARE THE FEW?!?!? I don't get it. Not that I feel I should be exempt from tragedy, but THIS? REALLY?? I often think of this as our little club (those of us who blog together) and I wonder how the rest of those moms cope. I could not do this without the support from my special bloggie girlies! Y'all provide new perspectives and provoking thoughts, and yet you understand everything I am going through and offer compassion and validation! LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH!

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

I hate "living the statistic". When we were happily pregnant, it was so easy to dismiss those scary numbers. I just cant believe we are all now the contributors to the statistics. It actually happens to real people everyday. That is so shocking to me.

Oh and I'm so with you on anger at aloof "parents" who participate in whatever creature comforts they want during pregnancy and end up with babies. Meanwhile I happily sacrificed (and I'll do it again God-willing) and lost my baby.

Solange, Nik and Caitlin said... [Reply to comment]

Sending you hugs and lots of love. I miss you tons and wish more than anything that nothing bad ever happens to you again.

Keleen said... [Reply to comment]

Oh Brandy...to have been able to share the birthday of live babies...we never would have known one another. How I wish that were our reality. Since it is not I do feel lucky to have found one another. Although we have never personally met I am just another person in this world that loves Andrew with you. I hold him close in my heart as I do with Addison. He will always be special to me. Love our baby A's!
ps I too never knew the "ugly cry" until this...just one more crap consolation prize to add to the pile :(

Becky Baker said... [Reply to comment]

Sorry for your loss, every month on the 10th, I am very aware its the anniversary of my daughters birth and then death!
I'm sorry!
Thanks for the research you did, I learned a lot!