We have been friends for many years, beginning from being colleagues at work. Friendships are such interesting phenomena. We have many interests in common and also many differences. Sometimes friendships are situational, and wear out, and other times they persist, despite the differences in circumstances.
These friends lost their second child. Their little son was only seven, and had heart problems requiring surgery, which he did nor survive. I remember studying, just before his operation, and remembering that the operation was imminent, and writing to them. The next thing was reading the death notice - their little son had died. I do not know how people bear such sorrows.
I have not had to bear such sorrow, but I lost my twin sons prematurely. This was seen as a blessing by many people, as I had rubella early in the pregnancy, and almost certainly the babies would have been severely affected. Of course, I did not know there were twins, and the shock and grief were immense.
Most people thought it was just as well that we lost these babies, and doubtless they were right, but one grieves, notwithstanding such considerations. In fact, I don't think that one ever recovers fully. One buries the grief, one realises that "it was just as well," but all the same, the loss of one's babies is both shocking and very traumatic.
After all these years, with three adult children and with grandchildren, it is not something I can write about with any ease. It is still raw. In those days we did not have ultrasound, or much in the way of diagnosis. There were statistics, that was all. The rubella was at the worst possible time. No counselling afterwards, either. Just being told it was just as well, that we had been spared much, and that it was fortunate that I had gone into premature labour, and that both babies were born dead. There was no counselling, and perhaps it would have been of no help. The first birth was traumatic, and I was barely conscious for the second, and had to be told hours later that a second baby had been born - both babies way too premature to have survived.
There was a lot of sympathy from family and friends, of course, but we were expected to get on with it, and to consider that we had been lucky not to have had not just one, but two children with severe birth defects. And this was true. But just because we had been spared having children with severe defects, it did little to mitigate the emotional shock and grief. How could it?
I do not now think about it very often, and it was very many years ago. At times the recollections are both sharp-edged, but blurry in the details. But I do wonder whether these sorrows made me feel that true happiness would never be my lot, and that somehow my life would always be blighted. That such a start to married life meant that we would never recover. As indeed we did not. Another disastrous pregnancy followed, and despite later having three children, and both of us trying to make the marriage work, we were locked into failure. Irremediable.