It’s not what it looks like

by Claudia Ravaldi
Hello Lapo Onus

CiaoLapo Onus

The minutes preceding and those following the diagnosis of stillbirth are difficult, very slow, painful. For those who are called to give the bad news, and for those who receive it, helpless. When a child dies, the general pain can be such that the child is overshadowed, who risks being considered not the crying person but the cause of the pain itself. And as such, it is then put aside, quickly, with the idea that this separation between the child and the parents can heal the wound. We know that this is not how it works. Let’s try to see why.

We must always explain everything to adults, especially about perinatal bereavement

if you see me flying here

is that I know how to detach myself from the ground

and get up in flight

like you others stand on one foot

it’s not difficult to set off against the wind

but if anything without a greeting.

Ivano Fossati – Lindbergh

I am Tommaso and I am a child .

Don’t be afraid of me.

There is nothing to be afraid of. I do not bite! I tell you, midwife that you can’t find the heartbeat and your hand is trembling and your eyes downcast and your heart a little heavy from the pain that came inside you, to you first, and that soon, a matter of moments, it will overwhelm my parents. I also say to you, gynecologist with a very ironed smock, a frank look, and a mouth just folded in a grimace of painful discomfort for this bad story that is happening to you , that it is happening to us, to all of us who are in the room, and that you do not wish you had to manage, because the pain comes and it wrinkles, scrambles, disturbs, everyone. I say to you, mom. That you have already suspected something a little, but only a little, because the mind of mothers is not made for thoughts like this: it is not made for certainties like these. And I tell you dad, that you still don’t know it, but you are about to transform yourself into a solid column: everyone will ask you, you will feel you have to do it, you have to break up the pain with your hands, trying to make it smaller, to dominate it, to overcome it. . You will think that this is the only thing to do when the earth collapses and the chasm opens under Mum’s feet and under yours. I do not know why, but it will seem to you, from the abyss, to be able to be strong for everyone, for mom, for grandparents, and for friends and their eyes wide open and swollen with tears, to be able to heal from this thing bigger than me, of you, to be able to hurry up and move on. Everything will be fine, father, even without you becoming a column. Stay as you are. Mom likes it so much.

I am Tommaso, I am a child.

The child of those two astonished parents sitting in the corner with a drawn and expressionless face, who will soon know that I have gone elsewhere. I left, but I haven’t stopped loving them. I have been their baby and I am their baby , even now, that I have yet to be born. Except that many would prefer that people like me leave with everything with them. Disappearing, mysteriously.

But no.

Those like me have to be born after they die. A stuff that scares everyone. Stuff that no one wants to hear, no one would want to see, or no one would ever want to remember.

Except my parents, of course. But from inside the abyss where in the meantime they have fallen, as soon as the sentence ” There is no more heartbeat ” said by the doctor with the embroidered earrings and a grimace mouth, they can only think that I am dead . Other things just don’t come to mind. At times, they are also angry with me, for this beautiful gimmick. For very long minutes, they cannot think of anything, they are as if submerged in pain. Far away. Desperate. Unable to remember that they are my parents, the ones who until last night sang the songs from the navel laughing like crazy he always teased, for this reason and they stopped six thousand times a song, and then I PAM !, I kicked them).

It’s always me, I’m Tommaso. I’m so sorry. I know, you’re sorry too. But it’s still me .

I’m about to be born, in this place where there is too much fear of me. I feel the fear strong, it also reaches my mom and dad. Alongside fear there is the embarrassment of proposing something sensible to my parents and the embarrassment of asking my parents or grandparents if they would like to meet me. You are watching that I have to end up like Lapo, who as soon as he was born they took him away and wrapped him up in a green cloth held together by adhesive tape. To me it is the story of the duct tape does not go down. I don’t want to be wrapped up.

I want a cradle, a sheet, a normal stuff, in short, as a child.

As a child he greets his parents .

It was not supposed to be like this, you all say. But that’s how it went. When I am born, I will be soft and warm, and beautiful. Because I’m beautiful , I’m not scary . Everyone said that to all the ultrasounds, which are beautiful. What then, even if you were “ugly”, imagine that my parents care, they have the eyes of a parent, the things you see you do not see, and even if they see them they do not give them all this importance, especially if some of you, instead of taking the adhesive tape and the green sheet, arranges me, prepares me and takes me to them.

So please, you with the ironed shirts, you with the embroidered earrings, you with the heavy heart, when I am born, don’t run away .

Treat me as any child should be treated in any delivery room. Teach my parents that they can step out of the way for a few minutes to be my parents in a normal way, and learn to recognize me for who I am, have been and will be. Let my parents meet me and start saying hello.

Don’t be afraid of me .

I’m a child. My name is Tommaso.

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