In memory of my first born…and many others

In memory of my first born…and many others

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.


Every March 18th I must stop and breathe deeply.  It is the anniversary of the birth of my first born, Bianca.  She was born prematurely and passed away on the third day.


Each year I try, in various ways, to honor her birth.  Last year I wrote a piece about the “underground” that exists among parents who have lost children, an “underground” that is rarely acknowledged, except by those who exist within it.


This year I found myself thinking less about what might have happened had Bianca lived, and more about the women who birth our children.  I particularly found myself thinking about all that can go wrong in child-birth and how little our society—and many other patriarchal societies—actually care for the mothers.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not trying to move the discussion away from the tremendous loss that my wife and I suffered 29 years ago.  But I have been thinking about how risky it is to give birth, making me even angrier when I hear anyone talking about so-called parental choice when it comes to vaccinations against various illnesses, e.g., measles.


My wife got the flu immediately prior to the birth of our first born.  Whether it was the flu that brought on the premature birth (which is one theory) or not, it reminds one of the potential consequences faced by a pregnant woman when exposed to any number of illnesses.  In that regard, when parents choose to NOT vaccinate their children, they are not only putting other children in danger, but they are also placing pregnant women in danger.  Exposure to measles can, for example, result in birth defects.  The parent of an un-vaccinated child who has measles and infects a pregnant woman cannot simply apologize for that, or shrug their shoulders.  There are consequences.


I have a sense of the consequences.   I plummeted from a “high” of great expectations as to what life would be like with the birth of our first born (who was due the following June) to a misery and anger unlike any I have known, before or since.  But what about parents who find themselves with a child who has birth defects because the mother was exposed to someone who had not been vaccinated?  As I implied above, there are no amount of apologies to make up for such a decision, a decision that will force upon the woman and her partner, long term consequences.


At the end of the day, I will never actually know why my first born arrived prematurely.  I can never forget the optimism which I attempted to hold onto, until the very last minute.  But I can say that I can never wish that experience on anyone.  Nor can I ever accept that anyone could ignore the consequences of a frivolous decision on the health of their own child that could have a dramatic impact on the health of so many others.

10 thoughts on “In memory of my first born…and many others

  1. Beautifully written of course, Loss is something I am no stranger to after losing Julio last spring and the tumult of our lives But what pained me more today was not knowing then about your loss.

    • Thanks so much. I am very sorry about your loss.
      Your note reminds me of how frequently we hold in our stories and sadness.

    • Always good to hear from you. Thanks for the thought.
      The only thing that you got wrong was the “Borg.” My historic affiliation has been with the Klingons. 🙂
      Keep the faith.

  2. Hi Bill. Thank you for your beautiful words. I had no idea. But I am certain that it’s a pain that never leaves you. Take care.

    • Thanks for the note.

      Last year i wrote a piece that was published in a few places, including, about the experience of being in an “underground.” This is a layer of society of parents who have lost children. We recognize others from the “underground,” but few outsiders recognize us unless they are really willing to probe and to truly listen. Too few people really want to listen to our stories. One result is that those of us in the “underground” tend to hold things in. No one knows; no one finds out…at least until something happens where a piece of the story may leak out. If/when it does we, of the “underground,” look around carefully to see whether we are being judged, ignored, pitied, or whether there is, in the alternative, some form of solidarity.
      It is complicated.

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