By Marie Fonda Spiteri
HAND of the Peninsula
I’ll never forget the day that we lost Laura. I was 13 years old and drove with my mom to the hospital because she couldn’t feel the baby. I was there alone with my mom in the hospital room when the doctor came in and told us the devastating news. I’ll never forget that day and I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face. I lost a part of my mom that day; a part of her that has been lost forever.
I remember being very sad at school and that none of my friends could understand how I could be so devastated over the loss of a baby that never took her first breath. But I knew better and I knew my truth. I felt connected to the baby even though she was never born alive. Most people, at least in my experience (especially back then), don’t realize the traumatic nature of a stillborn birth.
I could have never imagined that a stillborn birth in the family would have had such an effect on me. I think about it often and I think about what my mom has been through over the years. For many years, my sisters and brother and I had to accept the fact that our mom was only physically home and not there for us as she was grieving this horrible loss. I learned not to burden her with little problems and tried not to give her much trouble as a teenager. Somehow I knew she had enough to deal with. I remember many times in the middle of the night finding her crying on the phone with Celia (Hartnett) a HAND of the Peninsula parent. She was still my mom, but a mom deeply lost in grief for her baby.
I have always felt a deep sorrow for what happened 18 years ago, but only could begin to understand my mother’s devastating loss when I became a mother myself seven years ago. In retrospect, I was grieving in my own way; mostly for the loss of a sister who I’d never know but also for the loss of my mother to many years of grief. I can say now that I understand my mom on a different level; a much deeper level. I can relate to her woman to woman and mother to mother.
Marie Fonda Spiteri, 30, is the mother of three