Mom to Baby Girl Smith
October 23, 2015
October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Day.
Last October 15th, I was blissfully, naively pregnant — as one should be — taking belly photos with my husband and dreaming about finally being a family of three. After struggling with infertility for over 2 years, we were pregnant! We had seen the baby! And the heartbeat! We were over the moon.
Little did I know, by that time, our sweet baby had already slipped away. She was gone and I was none the wiser. Isn’t a mother supposed to know when her child is no longer alive? I did not. It wasn’t until a routine ultrasound on October 23rd, that my doctor would say the words that changed everything: I’m afraid I don’t have good news. And for what seemed like an eternity — I stared at the motionless screen, along with my doctor and the ultrasound technician — desperately hoping for some sign of life.
Please… something, anything… please…
But there was nothing to be seen, just a tiny shadow frozen in time. She was gone.
After the D and C, and the misoprostol, and the vicodin-induced haze, I packed all of the pregnancy tests, and the congratulatory cards, and the sympathy cards, and the photos into a small wooden box and closed the lid — an entire life in one small box. I couldn’t put the box away because I couldn’t figure out where such a box should go. Under the bed? On a shelf? Nothing seemed right. I didn’t know what to do. I was lost.
Baby loss is so very hard. No one knows what to do or to say, and truthfully, there aren’t any “right” things. There are, however, lots of “wrong” things. In my case, I wasn’t interested in hearing about adoption, or how I can, “always try again,” or how, “everything happens for a reason,” or how, “at least I know I can get pregnant,” or how a niece or a neighbor or a cousin got pregnant again right after a miscarriage. Hearing those things only made me feel damaged and broken and guilty and responsible and empty.
The only thing that helped me was space and peace and quiet.
So, I took some time off of work and I spent some time by the sea and I slept long and I dreamt hard and I cried big, fat, ugly tears every single day. I thought about everything that almost was and about everything that could never be and about everything that just is. I bought a remembrance necklace with a tiny angel wing and a pearl (for her birth month). I lit a candle every day for all the babies who had been lost and for all the mamas and papas who had lost them. I found a therapist. I started Zoloft.
I gave her a name.
And somewhere along the way, there was a shift – almost imperceptible, but I found I could smile and laugh and get out of bed again. And that’s when I knew I could get through the grief and the heartbreak and the loss. Not over it but through it. I’ll never be over the loss, but I’ll keep on getting through it, some days with a quiet grace, other days with a tear-soaked pillow and puffy eyes.
So, no, there is no happy ending to this story. Losing my baby will never be okay, but I have learned that I can be okay in spite of the loss — or maybe even because of it. After all, as Glennon Melton says, “grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved.”
And loved I did — a whole lifetime of love in just a few weeks.
So now, with nearly a year’s worth of wisdom and distance, I can say that not a day goes by when I don’t pause and think about that tiny flicker of a heartbeat, and that brief whisper of time when I was a mother.
Heather blogs at There’s Beauty in the Breakdown.