Recently I was watching the award-winning documentary, Planet Earth. This particular episode featured islands all over the world, one of them being an island of beautifully exotic birds.
One short segment showed the various nests built by these different species of birds and how each one was meant to create a place of safety for the bird’s eggs where the mother bird could sit and incubate the eggs until they were ready to hatch. The nests were a safe place for both mama bird and still-in-the-shell baby bird.
Except sometimes not even the safety of a shell and a nest crafted with care can protect a baby bird from a harsh world.
In one scene, a predatory bird landed on a nest that held a single egg. The bird then pecked the shell until it cracked open, and ate the contents of the egg. When the mother bird returned, she circled the nest a few times, aware that something was not quite right but not exactly sure what to do. In an act of pure maternal instinct and love, she chose to sit on the nest, on the cracked shell where her baby once grew. The narrator’s words brought stinging tears to my eyes, “She knows something is not quite right. But her drive to incubate is strong.”
Her drive to incubate is strong.
Even in the wake of her baby’s death, this mother could not stop doing what she was meant to do: love, nurture, and care for her little one.
I have been here before friend, have you?
After my daughter died I remember feeling an ache in my heart that wanted so desperately to be directed toward caring for a baby girl who was no longer here. It is a feeling I can only describe as “love momentum.” Everything in my body and heart was running full speed ahead toward giving and sustaining life for this little one. The light had been green and then, suddenly, switched to red, forcing me to skid to a screeching halt. But everything inside of me begged to keep going.
One thing that saved me, that allowed me to lean into that love momentum and ease the tension just a little bit, was creating a space online where I could share my story. It was such a comfort to have that outlet, but also to have a place to connect with other mothers with similar experiences. The encouragement I was able to both give and take from my online places was and continues to be, incredibly life-giving.
Sweet mama if today you are feeling bound by the inertia of your love momentum for your baby whose heart no longer beats here on earth, I want to encourage you to create a safe space where you can share.
If you have felt this tug and yet feel a tension inside, hear me give you permission to go for it.
Publish an ebook that chronicles your story of loss and the pain of living without your baby. Start a blog where you can openly share your feelings. Open an Instagram account specifically for sharing pictures of your sweet little one. Be brave and start a podcast where you can use your voice to speak into the dreadful experience of infant loss. There might be a thousand others out there doing the same thing, but not one of them is you sharing your unique story. Who knows how your story, your voice, your baby, could change the world.
You can do it, friend. I believe in you.
(photo credit: Jay Day images via Lightstock)
Sarah Rieke is a wife and mother who has walked the impossible road of infant loss twice. The existence of her two sweet babies, Evie and Charlie, are the heartbeat behind Sarah’s desire to extend genuine compassion, empathy, and emotional support to mothers who have experienced loss.