It has been a while since I’ve posted…since I’ve been able to come up for air and feel brave enough to put words on paper. I am two weeks out from my due date and can’t help but to reflect. Since losing my son….life has been so…devastating, disappointing, empty, indifferent. I am deeply grateful for the loves who have shown me compassion and know I’m not okay and have no expectations of me. Unfortunately most act as if losing a child should be something I should get over or express shock that losing my infant still carries enormous weight on my being just three short months later. And if that doesn’t surprise you, even more unsettling have been the well intentioned but highly inappropriate comments that we should “enjoy” our time without children because life will be so different once they come.
Yes, multiple people have told me that I should enjoy my life now without children (which of course translates to me that I should enjoy my life without my son.) I should ENJOY IT.
Birth changes you. Loss changes you. To everyone who has experienced birth, you know it’s a rite of passage. I look in the mirror now and I don’t know the woman looking back. I suppose many other mothers feel the same way. Your body, mind and outlook change and it’s all expected and it’s all okay because it’s for your baby. The same things happened to me except my baby is not alive. I had the same postpartum hormones, my milk came in just like any other mother but I didn’t experience the wonder and elation that a newborn brings to balance it out. Instead, partnered with the hormones and the physical changes was deep shattering loss.
For some reason, there is a lot of understanding for new Moms in the postpartum period but not so much for those of us also postpartum and greiving. Luckily I joined a loss group and met other mothers who lost their children too. Sadly, our stories were almost identical. This is so uncomfortable for people that nobody dares ask us how we’re coping anymore. People shrug it off as my having had a “miscarriage” totally dismissing that my son was a preemie born alive. We didn’t announce his cremation or hold a funeral as it was too personal to even speak of. For months I had trouble leaving my bed let alone my home. I try to remind myself it may not seem real to people since I’ve never posted his photo online but like any proud Mom, I’m happy to show his little face to anyone who asks.
Despite everything, the outcome didn’t change the passage. Birth was still so wholly empowering. For those few hours of laboring, I was strong and despite the fear, ready to say hello to our firstborn. Before his birth I was confident. It’s difficult to explain but our boy was prayed for and wanted beyond your imagination. Nothing in my life has been more disappointing than not bringing him home.
Before this experience, I spent time pinning birth plans, watching “The Business of Being Born” and arguing with Mariel over the design of the nursery. Now I know all of that crap about birth plans and meds or no meds and what to put in our hospital bag are total bullshit. If your baby is born alive, you get to take them home and you are also in good health following the birth you are successful. Through counseling I’ve learned that all outcomes following birth make you a “good” mother. Period. In reality, the happenings surrounding birth, life and death are all outside of our control.
While laboring, I knew he would not live but the journey to meet him was equally amazing and terrifying at the same time. I knew he would be tiny and fragile so I was scared to birth him and scared to meet him. Reading these words don’t give the experience justice so I invite you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment. If you’ve had a baby…imagine yourself in labor & delivery knowing that soon after birth you will meet your baby and then they will die in your arms.
How would you cope? Would you lose it? Go crazy? Beg to be on antidepressants so you can make it through? Curse God? I promise you that regardless of your beliefs you would not praise God in that moment.
This is my reality. It has rocked my marriage. It has changed me. I’ve had countless Britney moments. I have crawled so deep into my cave for protection I am not sure when I’ll feel safe to come out. Simple things like breathing have become labored for me. I don’t know that this was a part of Gods plan or that this was “meant to be” or even that things will be “okay” again although I pray they will.
My focus now is healing. Navigating and healing my heart, mind and womb so that I can carry life again. So that I can have joy again and not be the broken woman I am now.
The last few years spent trying to conceive and begin a family have been my most trying to date. The energy I’ve carried has been nervous, fearful and now lost. No amount of hard work, sacrifice, relaxation, pampering or counseling has brought us any closer to becoming parents. We cannot just chill and conceive. Our efforts will always have to be concentrated and timed and if you’ve ever tried to conceive you know it is all consuming. It is not romantic or dreamy.
Where before the hope was conception our reality is that despite a positive pregnancy test nothing is safe anymore. There are no safe zones to pregnancy. We made it past the typical safe zone of the first twelve weeks. They tell you that if you will lose your baby it will happen during that time. That milestone means nothing. The next time around our goal is viability which is 24 weeks (in most hospitals) and even then, anything before 35 weeks and your babies health is in danger. The reality is your baby can die at any moment and while many believe pregnancy to be a promise of the future it is nothing but a chance. I’ve lived it.
With this knowledge and our continued dedication to be parents, my goal now is to curate a living space, a life, where I have the time to heal my mind and heart so that I can feel safe enough to emotionally connect to the next soul growing inside of me, work towards feeling inner peace (I feel so much guilt) and make sacrifices so that I am free from as many external stressors as possible. I am a high risk patient now and naturally my internal stress is on high alert.
Ultimately I am working towards allowing myself the space to discover who I am not because of the tragedy but inspite of it.
Much love to all of you reading this. May we all find the strength and courage to continue walking and healing.