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Remembering our babies
on their "due dates"...

To Tobias on your due date
Tomorrow is such an important day
We'll try to mark it in a special way
For us to pass through yet another stage
To be born tomorrow you'd have been of age.

Cindy F.
SHARE Atlanta

Why the "due date" is so Marcia McGinnis

Today, because of medical advances, more of our babies are being born between the 22 and 27th week and living for a short while. Because of medical advances, more babies are surviving this early birth, but we still have many parents who must survive the Due Date after their baby has died at anytime before a full term birth (through miscarriage, midterm loss, third term loss).

Everyone who has had a loss before the due date approaches this time of their grief with a new intensity of pain. Here are some thoughts to help those parents realize that their feelings and reactions are normal and how to cope with them.

Normal Feelings and Reactions...

  • For many parents whose baby died before the "due date", the actual date becomes very difficult. For most parents there is a period of time between the loss and this date that they feel "I wouldn't have a child now anyway, I can 'handle' this".

  • As the date draws near, the parent realizes, if all had gone well, there would be a living baby. Therefore, the reality of the situation becomes very painful to deal with. This is especially true as the parents witness friends, family or even strangers who do have a new baby.

  • Their failure to have their child, now that the due date is coming, is very intense. Often their pain feels almost like the initial grieving period.

    This mother expresses this pain as near panic...much like when we learn our baby is to die or has died. This is a very common reaction.

    "My baby was to be due this weekend. I knew that this would be a hard week for us, but I had no idea it would be this hard. I kept thinking that I could handle it and I was wrong. I truly feel as if I am dying. My body hurts, my throat hurts, I am physically sick to my stomach, and I feel like I can't get a good breath. I feel like I am right back in the doctor's office when they told me we had lost her."

    "I can't believe how much I miss her! I have cried every morning this week on the way to work. I have prayed to God for the strength to get through this and I don't think I'll get it. We have planned to go to the beach this weekend to ease our pain, but I just think we will be miserable. I don't think I will ever be able to move on right now. How do I even begin to make this tragedy a part of our lives without letting it destroy our faith and spirit?"

    Recognize this pain as real and normal for after a loss...

    We encourage our parents to recognize the reality of the intense pain and try to do something for themselves in memory of their baby. Many suggestions are made under "Coping Ideas".

    Here is the response to how this mother and dad finally handled the weekend of the due date:

    Somehow, I have survived. I feel more comfortable now that the date has passed. I am not anticipating it anymore. You were right, the days leading up to it are worse than the actual day. We went to Chattanooga and had a wonderful dinner and talked about her at dinner. We spent the night in a nice hotel and went to the aquarium on Saturday. Not what I expected, but nice nonetheless.

    Marcia's thoughts: Prayers were answered as you and your husband shared memories of your daughter while making new memories together. It is how we cope. Moving on with our lives in small steps...while not forgetting...but in a loving way hanging on (to each other and to the memories of your child and to life's process) and slowly realizing that we will survive.

    A change of routine and making "new memories" is often very healing...

    Going away from the home is often a very good idea...even if it feels hard to do. Putting other memories in our hearts helps us keep moving through our pain. As we do these kinds of activities, we begin to make our baby and his/her memories part of our life - with our new memories. Our baby would want us to grieve them and to work to heal. Living children offer support for parents and want them to be happy. I believe our babies would want this also. They would want their presence in our lives to become meaningful in their honor.

    The actual day, as with anniversaries and holidays sometimes is not as difficult as the days prior to it. Having a 'plan' that can be altered that day is often very helpful for making it through the day. We talk about how hard these type of days are. The first ones are the hardest and we can survive them if we will realize that there intensity is normal and that others have lived through these days. Your crazy and scary feelings are normal - part of the entire process.

    Coping helps healing to happen...

    Learning ways to cope...just to make it through the day, is important and "doable" with effort and love. We should take the love we have for our babies and gradually give it to ourselves so we can heal. Marcia McGinnis

    Cindy's entire Poem to Tobias on his Due Date...

    To Tobias on your due date
    Tomorrow is such an important day
    We'll try to mark it in a special way
    For us to pass through yet another stage
    To be born tomorrow you'd have been of age.

    Tobias my son, I miss you so much
    Oh what I'd give to feel your touch
    Sometimes I still think I feel you kick
    My heart feels torn, much more than a nick

    My friends are praying that I'll get through
    This day I had so looked forward to
    My thoughts are scattered, I'm jumbled inside
    My emotions are welling like an incoming tide.

    Cailin would have liked to have had a brother
    She's rough and tumbly, yet likes to mother
    She does not understand why we are so sad
    Your mommy and daddy - Cindy and Brad

    One day we will tell her about you Tobias
    And how your short life has affected us
    We'll tell her how loved and cared for you were
    And try to explain why you're not here with her

    For now we will share, we will dream and we'll cry
    We'll take care of each other, Brad and I
    We'll look at your pictures and wish what might have been
    And in heaven we'll hold you one day again.

    Cindy F. 4/2/96
    SHARE Atlanta

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