Saturday, October 16, 2010

Failure to Thrive

I lost a baby girl. To everyone else she was just a possibility they were waiting to meet, but to me she was already going to a junior high dance, graduating college, walking down the aisle, asking me questions about her own baby. I wasn't really that far along in my pregnancy - far enough to have told everyone and to be picking names. Far enough that they could tell me afterwards that she was a girl. And far enough to have dreamed her into our lives.

I think about her often at this time of year. She'd be 19 this month. But, almost as soon as she was gone BB2 was on his way. Born just 6 months after she was expected. And as loved and celebrated and perfect as any baby could have been. It's hard to mourn her when I have him. When I asked the doctors what I'd done wrong - why I'd lost her - he said I didn't do anything. That 9 times out of 10 there is no reason. That moving house and dental surgery and anything else I could second guess were irrelevant. And that mostly they chalk these losses up to 'failure to thrive.'

It's an interesting term. I was thinking this morning about relationships (shocking, I know), and how apt a term 'failure to thrive' is in that arena as well. In fact, there are a lot of similarities. Mostly, people have no trouble getting to the 3 month mark, and that's a milestone as well for pregnancies. It's a point at which, often, things become public. And it's a point at which you start to look forward - to dream and plan and anticipate. And as often as not, there is nothing to blame for relationships not continuing past that mark. They develop to a certain point, and then 'fail to thrive.' You can put work in. Monitor the situation. Run tests. But if it's not meant to be, there's no changing that. You can point fingers at one another, or tell your friends what a callous cad he is, or what a psycho she is. But it won't change anything. 

It's a funny thing, losing a baby. We don't talk about it. Even at the time her father said 'It's not like she was a real baby.' And in some ways that's true. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a baby you've held. My friend Tori can - and shares about it brilliantly - and it's not the same.

It makes me wonder though. If I hadn't had two beautiful healthy boys. If there had been other babies lost, I would have done something about it. I'd have found out why. And if I'm going to make the comparison - all I've had in relationships have been 'failure to thrive' of varying length, so shouldn't that be something I look into?


  1. what a beautiful way to look at it. Thanks Shannon!

  2. You weave metaphor well, and I love the reflective nature of your writing, as always!

  3. Thanks, guys. Tom - it means a lot to me that someone with your literary faculty enjoys my writing. Sheldon, so glad you've joined us for the ride.


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