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To the Mom Who Has to Let Her Baby Go

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Just two nights ago I met you a clearly emotional, distraught young lady who just had her first child. Most of the time in the world I used to inhabit, childbirth was a cause for celebration. But we’re here for a reason. I know better now.

I’m very familiar with just how unfair life can be when a parent ends up here. It’s something I never used to think about. Now it’s all too real and common, but it stings just the same. Every single time.

My heart breaks for you. You are forced to make a choice, forced to make the call and forced to endure listening to doctors say things like “quality of life” and “the procedure would be pointless.”

All these big, complicated sentences and unbelievably harsh truths. All this in reference to your newborn. Your newborn, who is so perfect on the outside, and who just nine short months ago you thought would be just as perfect on the inside. Now you sit here across the table from me, and we have this conversation.

I’ve walked around this hospital enough times to understand the medical terms without a second thought, and I can tell this comforts you. You’re new here at the party nobody wanted to come to, and your world has changed. Although family and friends are supportive, it must be nice talking to someone you don’t have to explain medical terms to. I’m glad, if only for a moment, you felt a little bit of normalcy.

I don’t know how to explain the hurt I could feel radiating from you. You are unarguably broken and confused. You are feeling every negative emotion one could feel: fear, anger, sadness, guilt, grief — the list goes on and on. Besides the fact you have to let your child go, the saddest truth to me is this is your first. You have to mourn the loss of feeling like a parent. You will go out in the world and hear parents speak of first steps and Pampers vs. Huggies. But you don’t know that debate. You know hospital walls, wires and sadness. You are and always will be a mom, but this comes with isolation. Because although you’re a mom, you won’t always be surrounded by moms who understand. I hope you find that support. I hope you find friends who understand. 

I tell you about my son and you tell me about yours. You may be one of the few people in this world who would have preferred my son’s heart condition compared to what your son has. The prognosis is a short life, regardless of what you do. So you talk to me, contemplating pursuing surgeries that will only allow a few months. I tell you what I would do from my own personal standpoint. Still, I am not you, Momma. You don’t have to listen to me. I haven’t been in those shoes. I pray to God I never have to be.

Whatever you choose,  just love that sweet boy. That’s all he will know. You were there for his first breath and you will hold him close to your heart for his last. He will know his momma loves him and always will. He will leave this world feeling love and warmth. I hope you know he doesn’t know he’s missing anything. He knows your soft touch, your warm kisses and your lullabies. He doesn’t know famine, poverty or what it’s like to have his heart broken. He only knows this beautiful, strong and selfless woman who stares at him, teary-eyed. He doesn’t want you to cry, Momma, because he is loved, so loved. Isn’t that what we all strive for while living? To find love and peace?

If that’s all your sweet boy knows of this world, then I’d say he’ll know a great, blessed life. All of this is thanks to you. You, the one who was willing to lose the sleep to hear painful words, and to make the heart-wrenching choices needed to ensure his happiness. 

It was just a conversation. It was just a women putting her pain into sentences. But it taught me something:

Time is not important. Minutes, hours and days cannot compare to the measure of love. Life is about who is there and how you spend it, no matter how short that life may be. Love will conquer every single time.

I hope when the time comes you don’t hold back your emotions.

I hope you get it all out. I hope a wave of peace comes over you.

I hope you feel him even when he isn’t here.

I hope every day you find a way to stay close to him, until you can go to him once more.

I hope this finds you in time, Momma.

A version of this post originally appeared on Four East

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Originally published: July 2, 2015
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