Something that has been on my mind and heart for a long time is comparison. It is everywhere, in every aspect of our lives it seems. One place, I am constantly seeing it, is the babyloss world. It is everywhere. Grace was not diagnosed with CDH until she was born, but the majority of the babies are diagnosed around 20 weeks gestation, leaving the family to worry and wonder and prepare that their child may die. I heard many times, "at least you didnt have that stress or worry during your pregnancy" or "at least you got to hold her for a minute at birth because you didn't know" or " you had it worse than me because at least we knew, i can't imagine being surprised" and on and on and on.
Sometimes the comparing is not malicious but too often it is. I remember sitting in the NICU waiting room with our friends, who's baby was in the NICU too and another mother whos son was in the NICU too but a different room. Our friends were talking about holding their son and the other mom asked how long they had waited, and they replied 12 days ( or something around 2 weeks) and she said " 6 weeks, yeah, 6 weeks so be happy it was only 12 days" and I remember just being blown away. I didn't even know how to respond on our friends behalf. Any day that you go without holding your child is too long. 6 day, 6 weeks or 6 hours is all too long. There is no need to "one-up" someone else.
A good friend has 5 healthy children, but had some pregnancy complications with her 4th child and he was born 3 weeks early. Most people know someone who had a baby 3 weeks early and went home at the normal time and had no problems etc. But my friends son, wasnt one of them. He was placed on a ventilator at birth where he remained for a week and he spent the first 10 days of his life in the NICU and away from his 3 older brothers. Grace spent 137 days in the hospital, and never came home. Her hospitalization was much more medically complex than my friends baby. And yet, I don't care. However, very often my friend is told by others that she doesnt understand what its like to have a child born early, or that her son was fine and that she doesnt need support for post NICU. That 10 days is not a big deal and her son was "full term" so she cant relate. I call bull. My friend still had to sit by her child and watch a machine breathe for him. She still had to attach herself to a breast pump and feel totally defeated because there was nothing coming out that she could give to her baby. She still had to walk out of the hospital without her baby and tell her big boys why. She still had to leave her baby in another womans care, and just hope that they knew what he meant to her. She still had to feel all of the same things that I had to feel and that all NICU moms have to feel. It doesn't matter that it wasn't for as long as some. 1 day, 3 days or 300 days. Its all the same.
Because I have lost a baby who was fully formed ( well, sort of...) and who lived and breathed and cried and smiled and who I held and who I loved so much and who met her brothers and her grandparents and who had a name and a personality, some people say I have it "worse" than them. People have said that they "just" had a miscarriage, thank goodness it was early... or that them losing a pregnancy wasn't as bad as what happened to me..My dear sweet friends, no you didn't get a chance to meet your baby and feel your baby grow, but that doesn't mean you dont feel the big feelings that I feel. It doesnt mean that you don't feel the profound loss of the life that was supposed to join your family. It doesnt mean that you don't wonder who that baby would have been or that you aren't scared to try again for fear of the same thing happening. It doesn't mean that you don't long for that baby daily or wish with all of your heart that it hadnt happened.
Sometimes people say things in reference to the length of time Grace lived. Ive been told "at least you got to see her eyes, at least you got to hear her cry" etc etc. and also "i can't imagine having that much time and then losing her". Not one situation is more tragic than the other. I got to see my daughters eyes and youll always wonder what your daughters eyes looked like. I got to hear her cry and youll always wonder what your daughters voice sounded like. both situations are so tragic but one doesn't trump the other.
We all go through things in life, and nobody is going to go through the same thing as someone else. And two people can go through some very similar things and yet they will both handle them completely differently. Some people may say some people have it "worse" than others. Some people will say "at least" and be trying to help and others will be trying to hurt. What I want to say is that, we have to let go of the comparing. Of the saying " all that happened to you was XXXXX and what happened to me was a dead baby, I win" No, its not a competition of hurt at all. No need to compare scars. The sooner we all stop comparing and just recognize that we all hurt differently and all handle our hurt differently and learn to just give people the grace and kindness they deserve, the sooner we all can open our hearts to compassion and love and be healers to others instead of being hurters.
My pain isn't bigger than your pain and your pain isnt bigger than my pain. Your tragedy isn't bigger than mine and mine isn't bigger than yours. Different? absolutely, but no comparison is needed.