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“Infant Daughter of —“

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 11, 2013

“Infant Daughter of —”

By Alice M. Burnett

If only they had waked me from that deep
And dreamless sleep,
And brought my baby daughter to my side.
If only I had held her once before she died,
And felt her precious head
So warm, and gently pressed
Against my breast.

But no, they made me sleep
And so I did not know
Until she had been buried deep
Beneath the snow.
They said that it was best,
That I was weak and needed rest
Before I learned that she was dead.

Today, when spring has bared the ground,
I slipped away, and came
Out to the family plot, alone,
And here I found
The small, white stone
Which bears no name,
The tiny purple iris bloom around –
I think she sent them to me as a sign –

And so, dear God above,
When all the children gather at your knee,
Will you please call this little girl of mine,
And kiss her once for me,
And name her “Iris,” with her mother’s love.

(1949)



5 Comments »

  1. Sob and sniffle. My sister in law told of how her grandmother recounted her delivery stories this way. She woke up from her sedation and there was a baby. I can’t imagine how horrible the above experience would be.

    Comment by Dovie — April 11, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

  2. Deeply moving. What a tragic experience to be put through. My heart goes out to any mother who loses a baby like this.

    Comment by Alison — April 11, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

  3. I caught my breath as I read this. I had a half- sister who had her firstborn, a baby girl in 1946. The baby reportedly had massive birth defects and only lived for a few hours. My sister was never allowed to see or hold her baby, either living or dead. This hung over her for her whole life, even though she had 5 later children. At my sister’s burial, this child was exhumed and reburied with her. Somehow it felt just right.

    Comment by Marjorie Conder — April 11, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  4. My sister and two aunts miscarried babies who were fully formed although small. My sister told me about looking at her daughter’s tiny hands and feet. Afterwards, they asked the nurses to let them hold the little babies after they were cleaned up and said they wanted to bury them,but were told that the hospitals just destroyed those babies. Later, all sets of parents added them to their own family group records and gave them names. That helped some, but it still haunts them.

    Comment by Maurine — April 11, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  5. Oh my. This mother’s story is so heartwrenching. This is not what I ought to be reading at this point in the evening and at this point in my pregnancy. But then again, these stories need to be told, her grief acknowledged.

    Comment by HokieKate — April 14, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

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