Infant Loss: A 3rd Party Perspective
Peyton Virginia Smolcich. She was born July 1st, 2015 at 3:31 a.m. She was born 15 weeks early. One pound, 6.2 ounces. Sleeping.
She was beautiful. She had her mom’s features; she had her dad’s hair. She had 10 adorable toes caught perfectly on camera.
She’s the daughter of one of my best friend’s, and the world should know her.
Peyton may have only lived a total of 25 weeks, all of which were spent inside her mom, but she made a lifetime’s worth of impact on a number of hearts.
I remember so clearly March 1, the day Abby told me she was pregnant. She’s been a close friend of mine since middle school, and I felt so honored that I was one of the first people she told and trusted so early in her pregnancy, weeks before the 12-week “safety mark”. Although as it turned out that safety mark was not at all safe.
We talked and joked about morning sickness, and she asked for tips on how to get through her long days as a resident at a hospital in New Jersey without letting everyone know the fatigue of first trimester pregnancy was wearing her thin.
She talked about how excited and nervous she and her husband, Tony, were about starting a family. About how they realized no time was the perfect time to have a baby so they were taking a leap of faith that they would figure out the ins and outs of parenthood among the busyness of moving back to the Midwest, starting her fellowship at a Children’s Hospital and her husband supporting her through her pursuit to follow her dreams and become a doctor, finding a job wherever this dream took them.
We talked more regularly throughout her pregnancy, sometimes on the phone, sometimes through text or email. She unfolded her visions of their family, she revealed Peyton’s name before even knowing for sure she was a girl. Her and Tony’s love for the little girl inside her was exuberant right from the start.
On July 5 I received a text from Abby that just didn’t sit right with me, asking me to call her. To hear her voice, her anguish, and to listen to exactly what she went through created an actual physical pain in my chest.
She had noticed Peyton wasn’t moving, so her OB instructed her to immediately go to labor and delivery to be evaluated. When Peyton’s heartbeat couldn’t be found, she was given a drug that would expedite the process of her body going into labor and was admitted to the hospital for delivery the following day.
Losing a baby at all is something I couldn’t imagine. Going through a 15-hour labor to deliver a child you know is no longer living is simply cruel.
She experienced every contraction for 15 hours. She experienced what every mother feels when going through labor full term.
But what she didn’t experience was what it sounds like to hear that first cry from her beautiful daughter. Instead, she heard the sobs coming from her own body. She heard the cries of her husband next to her.
My friend Kristin and I had the opportunity to visit Abby for a “girls day” two weeks after Peyton was born. We talked about her and were lucky enough to have Abby share pictures of her with us. To share her private moments of the day they met Peyton face to face. I can tell you, she was beautiful.
October is a month dedicated to spreading infant loss awareness. It’s real. Miscarriages don’t only happen early on in a pregnancy. They happen all the time. They happen at any time. They break people. They strengthen people. They hurt. They create a void.
If you don’t know Abby, you wouldn’t know she’s going through this. She wouldn’t tell you in line at the grocery store, but I can promise you she would smile at you and offer for you to go in front of her if you had less items in your cart.
So if not every month, at least during the month of October, I’m asking something from everyone reading this:
Before you get frustrated about the person barely driving the speed limit in front of you, before you roll your eyes at the person with a full grocery cart who didn’t offer for you to check out first with your two items, before you lose your patience with a coworker, stop and think. Could that person have gone through this? How would you know? Likely, you wouldn’t.
Show compassion. Show love.
This post is in dedication to my incredibly strong friend and her husband for continuing to work through the pain, for clinging to each other instead of letting this tear them apart, and for allowing me to share their story and their precious daughter with my blog world.