Your Grief Is Not Mine

One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve had throughout my grief journey is feeling like my grief was “too much” or “unwarranted.” I’ve seen the baby loss community be silenced so many times on social media when users felt the grieving mother was oversharing. I’ve read how so many women felt trapped in their thoughts and feelings because the topic of miscarriage and pregnancy loss was taboo in their communities. In my personal experience, I’ve seen how some of the faces of people I’ve shared with turned flushed the moment I spoke about my loss and who my angel baby is. Can we blame them though? Hearing such a sad story about a painful experience someone has had will never feel good. I’ve also found myself comparing my grief to other women who’ve experienced a miscarriage and/or pregnancy loss. In the process I find myself shrinking my baby and experience because I’ve convinced myself that I made a big deal out of nothing. “I didn’t make it full term, so why cry a year later?” “This other woman suffered a miscarriage as well and appears to have moved on, you need to do the same.”

What I’ve learned through therapy (and what I keep telling myself) is that grief should not be compared. I’ve told myself several times that is a simple concept that should be understood, but my mind forgets it when I allow insecurity to set in. My husband made an excellent point one day I was feeling a little down. “Would you expect a person who lost their father when they were two months old not to grieve their deceased father just because they didn’t lose them at 35 years old?” Do you have to have someone in your life long in order for you to feel the pain of losing them? That’s not fair. He said, “It’s not fair to put that sort of restriction on yourself.”

The fact of the matter is that all of our grief is different. We’ve all lost our babies in different ways, and we are all different people. The grieving experience may be similar, but definitely won’t be the same. Family members will grieve loved ones differently, and strangers will grieve their deceased babies differently. Some women will not be deeply saddened by losing their babies, and that is OKAY. It shouldn’t be frowned upon. Some women will grieve their angel babies for the rest of their lives, and that’s okay too. Your grief is your grief, and the important thing is to make sure that you’re healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally. Grief is an ongoing cycle and has no destination. Grieving doesn’t mean being in a deep depression the entire time, but you may feel it from time to time depending on the season.

It’s so important to give yourself grace and to take it one second at a time.

Dear TJ,

The sun has been shining bright, and you have been shining bright in the night skies. These have been some of my better days, and I’m so grateful. I love you baby!

Love,

Mommy…

My Baby Was and Still Is A Big Deal

Many people fail to realize that when you experience the loss of a baby, life doesn’t continue the same. When parents (I don’t want to exclude partners who grieve with the mom) lose a baby, everyone else moves forward with their lives. The family who was expecting to grow by another heartbeat is grappling trying to figure out how to go on. It amazes and disappoints me how many women receive unsolicited advice to encourage them to move forward with life, get over it, try again, or hit you with “at least…” statements. You try so hard not to hurt that person’s feelings because they’re only trying to “help”, meanwhile it’s crushing your soul listening to them minimize the life you just lost. The life that was just inside you seems unimportant. You find yourself wondering if you’re being dramatic because your pregnancy was still early. You’ve had your rainbow baby now, so you should be ok. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is babies are a big deal and losing them in any fashion is life-shattering.

Experiencing a pregnancy loss is not just an emotional loss. The physical pain a woman goes through when losing her child is so intense. A miscarriage is not just a period. A stillbirth is not something you just snap back from. The physical experience during and after a loss is a reminder of the very beautiful life that was in you is now gone. Some women labor. Some women’s water break. Some women push. Some women birth vaginally or through surgery. Emotionally you’re a wreck, and mentally you’re not even hanging on by a thread. You’re simply there. 

No one prepares you for the loss of your baby/babies. No one tells you that you’ll have to decide on whether you will toss your deceased baby in the trash or flush them down the toilet after they’ve finally passed. No one tells you about the contractions during and after. No one tells you about having to make funeral/burial arrangements for your baby instead of scheduling their first pediatric visit. No one tells you about how the only time you’ll get to spend with your baby outside of your womb is holding their lifeless body. No one tells you how after you lose your baby, you have to clean yourself up and walk out of the bathroom to be a parent to your living children. No one tells you about the surgery you have to get to remove everything that existed with your pregnancy. I think it’s safe to say that baby was and is a big deal considering how life-changing losing them was. But “at least you already have children”, right? “At least you know you can get pregnant.” “I’m sure you’ll be ok the next time you’re pregnant.” “You’re pregnant now, you have to let the past go.” “I don’t count that baby, just the ones I can see.” “It’s been so many years, and you’ve had other children since then.”

If you’ve lost your baby/babies. Your baby was and is still a big deal. Your baby was and is important. You’re not being dramatic. You don’t need to nor have to get over it. Take it one second at a time. 

If you know someone who has experienced the loss of a baby. It makes a huge difference when you call their baby by name and acknowledge their existence.

Dear TJ,

You are so loved and missed. I am never ok around this time, but I’m trying to be.

Love,

Mommy…

Would You Do It All Over Again?

If I were asked the question, “Would you do it all over again?”, I wouldn’t. If I had a time machine, I’d never choose to go down the path of losing my baby again. I struggled with this answer for so long because, for a while, my answer would have been yes. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about 8 or 9 weeks along. I was pretty in denial before caving in and taking a test because all of the symptoms I was experiencing were synonymous with PMS. Strangely, it felt like I was pregnant for a short and long time, at the same time. The days were long, but the weeks were short. It felt like as soon as I’d learned and accepted that we would be having our third child, he was leaving. Early in my grieving, I would choose to do it again just so that I could embrace and love my baby sooner. So that I would have technically had a longer time with him. Although I lost him at 11 weeks and 2 days, I had only known about him for close to 4 weeks. 2 out of those 4 weeks were spent worrying if he was ok because of the bleeding. At the time of my loss, the world had just shut down a month earlier (OB/GYN appointments were spaced out and moving to Telehealth), and the emergency rooms were filled with sick and dying people due to Covid. So I stayed home as long as I could in hopes that I’d make it to my first in-person appointment.

Now, the feeling of wanting to do it all over again visits for a few seconds, but then it’s quickly removed when I remember everything that took place after. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t. However, part of my heart breaks saying that. It feels like I’m saying I wish my baby never existed. It feels like I’m saying my baby brought me pain. It feels like I’m saying that I would have been fine if I had never been pregnant with him. I often let those thoughts consume me so let me speak the truth instead of letting my emotions marinate on lies. Although my loss pains me, I’m so glad my baby existed. The truth is that I do wish I’d been pregnant with him, but I wish I’d been able to hold him in my arms and watch him grow. But if I knew my baby wouldn’t live, I wouldn’t do it again.

The pain of losing a child is one that I will never be able to put into words. The heartache you feel. The darkness you feel surrounds you. The sunken place you feel yourself crying and screaming to get out of, but no one can save you… It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve gone through thus far. It doesn’t matter what gestational age your baby was when they died… it crushes you and leaves you with so many questions and pieces to pick up.

But… What if I didn’t experience losing this baby? Would I have continued to push the date back to start therapy? Would I have ever truly allowed my husband to care for me the way he did and still does? How long would it have taken for me to truly work on finding my purpose and pursuing it? Losing my baby has changed me in a painful way, but it has also blessed me. And that breaks the other part of my heart to say. It feels sick to speak on some of the good things that came out of his death. I try to remind myself of my therapist’s words, “There is duality in grief.” “You can feel both heartbroken, but happy at the same time.”

To me. To other moms of babies who aren’t with them physically… Take your time. The journey of grieving and healing after loss is not linear.

Dear TJ,

“You mean the world to me. You are my everything. I swear the only thing that matters to me…” Is making sure that I honor you forever!

Love,

Mommy