Loss: 32 Years Later
My story began in August of 1968. I was a naive, not quite 19 year old
preparing to marry my high school sweetheart just home from Viet Nam.
We went to get our blood tests. The Doctor asked me about birth control,
but because it involved a vaginal exam I declined. I had been molested
as a ten
September 19, my birthday, we arrived in Seattle, found ourselves an
old rundown trailer and rented it. Within a few days, I started getting
deathly sick, every day, all day. I had missed my period. Mom diagnosed
me over the phone. I was pregnant. The Army doctors wouldn't see me till
I was three months along. I ate crackers in bed. My husband insisted that
he had to have bacon and eggs every morning even though he knew that it
made me worse. He would leave and I would open up
While I was home, my mom's gynecologist saw me and gave me a prescription
to stop the morning sickness, the army doctors continued this when I finally
got in to see them. It never did stop, but gave me some relief at least
after the morning was over. There were two times when I had relief from
the awful sickness. Once a month when the enlisted guys and their wives
had a BYOB party. I found that
When I was 5 1/2 months pregnant, I opted to put our things in storage
and go home to Illinois to have our baby. Financially things were tough
for us. The Army had made a mistake on our checks when my husband and
I had first gotten married and gave us too much, and had decided that
they were taking it back all at once. He was putting long hours on base,
and also was facing another TDY about the time our baby was due. I was
very lonely and very homesick. The first of March I flew home. Immediately
I felt better. It was wonderful to feel good, to enjoy being pregnant.
I had lost 20 lbs. but
Just before I was seven months, my husband came home on a weeks furlough. With my Doctor's OK, we made a trip to Kokomo, Indiana to see his family. That Saturday night, my sister in law Jeannie, went to the hospital to be delivered of a healthy baby boy. I began to have pains in my back. We had already gone to bed, but they got worse and worse. My husband had been rubbing my back and finally he went to get his Mother. She came in and asked me what was wrong and then just said. "You'll be OK. You're just having sympathy pains for Jeannie, just go to sleep." I had those pains for the rest of the night. The next morning they were pretty much gone. I still felt a little tight in the tummy when we went back home to Illinois, but I thought it was just the baby moving around just a little bit.
Mom insisted that I go see the Doctor on Monday, right after I saw my
husband off at the airport. My Doctor reassured me everything would be
OK. I kept telling Mom "I don't think the baby is moving" She
kept telling me, "they sometimes do that right before they are born."
I knew it wasn't time.
A funeral was planned and held. I was not released from the hospital "for my own good", not allowed to attend. I chose a soft receiving blanket given to me by my best friend, for her to be buried in. Karen stayed with me while the family and my husband attended the funeral. I could only imagine the tiny white casket. The still, tiny form that I would never see, never hold. I was so horrified and hurt when they all came to the hospital half drunk after it was over! How could they?
I went home to Mom's the next day. I rushed to the room to finger and
hold the baby clothes. They were gone! I asked Mom where they were. She
thought it was best they not be there when I got home. I didn't see them
again for over six months. So swallowing my disappointment, I struggled
I went back to work. I acted normal. My body looked normal. I was supposed to be back to normal. Karen and I were doing things together, shopping, movies and riding around town, just like I was single again. My husband was still in Washington. I had no baby clothes, no one to let me grieve, no one to let me talk about her, it was like she had never existed. Casandra Lee St. Clair stillborn April 17, 1969. My mother never went to her grave, never talked about her. Neither did my husband when he came home. He didn't want me to talk about her either.
Five months later on September 16 1969, a little boy was born in Kokomo, Indiana. He was unloved and unwanted. The illegitimate child of my sister-in-law. My husband came home in October and we unsuccessfully tried to have another baby. On Valentines weekend, we made another trip to Kokomo. We came back with a five month old malnourished, nearly dead little boy that became my reason for living again. Two and a half years later I gave birth to another son.
I still grieved for my daughter, but still never talked about her. Today, I still wonder what she would be like at 32. What would her children be like? Would her hair still be red? Would she be built like me, slightly plump? Have the same interests? Write poetry? I know that I love her still. When I meet her in heaven, will she still be a baby? Will I recognize her? Somehow I know that my heart will know her.
In the last eight years, my second husband has taken me to her grave many, many times. Has listened to me talk about her. Has read my poems about her. He has let me grieve for her. He is not her father but he loves me enough to let me grieve for the child that I never knew.
Through the years, there have been so many times that I have been able to help someone because of my experiences. My childhood traumas, my unhappy marriage, my stillborn child, so many times I have been able to give hope. Hope is what it is about. Without hope, we are nothing, we have no will to live. This is the purpose of this narrative, to give someone else hope.