The pain you feel afterwards manifests itself in a million ways and like a snake it rears its head and strikes when you least expect it. Our boys were born (stillborn) on December 21st -- four days before Christmas. I remember leaving the hospital and feeling like something wasn't right but the truth was I was still numb to what had happened. My husband's family had a tradition of attending a midnight Christmas Eve service. I'll never know what part of me thought that was a good idea that year. I don't remember much about the service. What I do remember, quite vividly, is the feeling that I was drowning, the feeling that I was fighting to keep my head above water, and my air supply was running out. It was the last midnight Christmas Eve service I've attended.
Seven more Christmas Eves have passed and I've heard all the well meaning messages -- "it'll get easier," "at least you have your daughter now," "you need to move on." People have the best of intentions, they just have no clue what to say. The truth is it does not get easier. Every day is hard. Some are harder. Seven years may have passed but there are still nights when I cry myself to sleep. I lay there and try to imagine what their sweet faces would look like or how their little personalities would have developed.
I do have my daughter and she is my ray of sunshine but she does not replace her brothers. She does not make up for their death. She is a blessing completely independent of them.
As far as moving on, it does not happen. It was a life, a piece of you, and in my case two little people I felt move inside of me. You cannot "move on" but you can move along. I take life one day at a time and I strive to keep their memory alive in our home. (If you ever meet my daughter, just ask her about her brothers.)
As the holidays come around each year, the waters rise and some days seem unbearable. My grief often comes out in the form of panic and anxiety and it is ugly and it is draining physically and emotionally. There is a tired that comes from a panic attack unlike any other. I said before that grief can strike at any moment. During the holidays, I may have panic attack because of a Christmas carol, because I thought about my boys (which makes sense), or, like last year, because I pulled into a grocery store parking lot (which makes no sense at all). Grief is a mean monster.
Why do I write all this?
Somewhere sits a mom (or dad) who has lost a child. Maybe the wound is fresh. She likely feels all alone and wonders how she will crawl out of her hole. She may be telling herself that she's crazy. I remember thinking something must be wrong with me.
Dear Mom (or dad): Please know your pain is valid. Oh, how I wish someone would have said those words to me. It is ok to cry, to be sad, to feel.... whether it has been 10 days or 10 years.
If your loss was due to stillbirth or miscarriage, it was still a baby. Do not let someone feed you the lie that "it was a fetus." After my first miscarriage, my doctor patted my knee, looked me in the eyes and told me "Whether you were pregnant one day or nine months, it was a baby."
Keep your child's memory alive. I don't know how that will look for you. For me, I would love to tell you about the meaning behind their names or how we saw their personalities develop even through ultrasounds. it also means that each year on their birthday we take baby blankets to the NICU. Their birthday is one of my happiest days each year.
Find your "person" (or people). While I wish we had not suffered this loss, I thank God that Matt is my husband, that he was and is by my side and is my "person." In the days after, he was just enough. I never felt like he did too little and I was in need nor did I feel suffocated. He remains my rock. All I have to say is "It's a bad day" and he knows -- knows that I may be irrational, irritable, sad or a multitude of other emotions. I also have my best friend. She gets far too many texts that probably seem to go on forever. She listens patiently. She loves me and she reminds me that God loves me. Find your people. You'll need them.
Know that I pray for you. Know that I have asked God to comfort you and to help you find peace and to help you on the days when you get so angry you feel like you'll explode. Prayer is a power thing. I now not a day goes by that daddy does not pray for me. On the days that seem too hard to bear, I have often wondered if it was my daddy's prayers that got me through it. Was it his interceding on my behalf that helped me face that particular day? Know I pray you feel God's love.
If you're reading this and haven't lost a child, I can assure you that you know someone who has. Miscarriage alone affects one in four women. Share this post with them and show them love.