The Sister I Never Knew

On this day 45 years ago, my parents had a baby that didn’t survive. If she had, I wouldn’t be alive today because they were hoping for a girl after two boys and then they were going to stop. I always felt a bond with her; we were the only two born in Japan, we were delivered by the same doctor, she might have had my name. Today my Mother sent me this letter. Happy birthday, baby girl.

Your older sister was born on February 21st, 1971, which was also a Sunday that year. She actually died two days earlier on the anniversary of my father’s death, the 19th. That Friday night, she went wild in my womb. We had a couple over for dinner – the husband, he was a doctor. The lights were low because your father was showing movies. I said nothing about the undulations in my womb. What if I had? Maybe Dr. S would have whipped me to the dispensary (no hospital on the naval base) and saved her. I spent the night trying to find her heartbeat with your grandfather’s stethoscope. All day Saturday, I waited for movement. I made a birthday cake for our neighbour, Carmie, who was also very pregnant with her third child. She was having a difficult pregnancy and was on bed rest to try to save her baby. The irony of it.

Sunday morning, Steve, our friend and doctor, knocked at our door. They lived 3 floors up from us and had been away and I think he was worried about me. Steve could not find a heart beat, so we were off to the dispensary. The baby was born around 4pm.

I am upset that I lost the x-rays he took. No doctor would x-ray a womb if he/she thought the baby was viable. She was dead and he took x-rays, probably to clear himself. But they were so beautiful. She and I so perfect and, yes, I could see the blood pooling in her joints, proof of death. But my breasts were there and my big strong spine and she was this incredible, perfect baby-in-womb with a curved spine, head down, ready to come.

My brother J’s birthday is February 28th, my brother B’s birthday is December 28th, my mother’s birthday was June 28th and your brother A’s birthday is April 28th. I’ve always been convinced that you and your brother T were meant to be born on the 28th, since you were both induced early. Who knows, maybe that baby girl would have also made it to the 28th.

Post script: I have my own relationship with the number 28, which I want to write a post about one day. I didn’t realise it had significance beyond my life and it kind of gives me peace.


4 thoughts on “The Sister I Never Knew

  1. Awww. My heart goes out to your mother. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jak says:

    What a heartbreaking letter, but beautiful of your Mom to share that with you x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. marjolijn says:

    This is so hard to realise, that by dying she gave you life. Must be very hard for you too. I had a sister before me and she died at birth. I have always missed my older sister, never liked having to be the older and wiser one to my younger sister and brother. Have you always known about her? XXX

    Liked by 1 person

  4. geaux2girl says:

    Your mother needs to write more, Elizabeth! You both write so well while creating such great imagery. What a joy you must have been and helped mend their broken hearts. I’m so glad you shared!

    Liked by 1 person

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