I remember that day like it was only yesterday. It was April’s Fools Day of 2016. I had my 20 week prenatal appointment scheduled and I had stopped to get Starbucks before my appointment. I remember the day was warm and there was a breeze blowing that was warm and inviting. I felt nothing out of the ordinary but excitement to hear the proof of the new life growing inside of me. I guess its easy to remember even the smallest details the day your entire world goes black.
“I’m sorry, but can you look again?”
I waddled furiously up the stairs to the doctor’s office because I was late to my appointment, as always. After the standard weight and blood pressure check, the doctor rushed in to do what we all thought to be a routine appointment. I felt the cold pressure of the handheld ultrasound machine and the slimy goo smooth against my belly as we waited to hear a heartbeat. Nothing. Then, a few minutes more, still silence.
I was reassured it was probably fine, as the pregnancy has been nothing but normal. Baby was just in a weird spot but we should check on ultrasound, just to be safe. This is the ultrasound that changed my life. “I’m sorry, but your baby has no heartbeat.” In this moment, I sat there and stared blankly. “Are you serious? Try again!” So, she did and at this point, we were all crying. Sobbing, in fact.
I was told to deliver the next day at the hospital. The office staff were instructed to leave us alone as we walked somberly through the office, back to into the warm spring day that almost seemed to be mocking me. Things like this don’t happen to people like me, I told myself. I took all of my prenatal vitamins religiously. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. How could something so horrendous happen on a day so beautiful?
“I’m here to deliver my baby.” I said quietly with every ounce of dignity I could muster. “What?” The attendant snapped back at me. I repeated myself a little louder this time, now gaining the attention from the excited young couple beside me. The father anxiously looked at my belly and then slowly recognized our day would have a different ending than theirs. “Oh. I’m sorry. There is a waiting room I can take you to, if you’ll hold on.”
The waiting room was dark and empty. It was standard in every other way but it was stained with an air of grief and sadness. I don’t remember much else about the delivery. I remember the stares as we walked to the very end of the hallway past two nurses stations. They all knew why we were here. Their stares were that of curiosity and sympathy as they watched as we walked by. I delivered him and held him for awhile and then slowly began to slip into an overwhelming darkness. I refused pain medicine. I didn’t feel it anyways.
Then Comes the Aftermath..
I have grieved before and I have been depressed before but this consumed my very foundation. This was the type of depression that turns all of your days into one very long and exhausting haze. I lost so much more than just my son that day. I lost pieces of my naivety and I lost the magic of pregnancy. The days, weeks, and months following his death were mostly spent in bed. I could not eat, nor could I move. I was afraid of myself and to be left alone for fear of what I might do. I felt like they should have buried me along with my son that day. I could see the concern in the eyes of those around me but I was helpless myself.
Then, one day, I began noticing things again. I drug myself out of bed as if my feet weighed 500 lbs. but I actually got out of bed. I would briefly emerge in the kitchen to spend time with my other children, if only for a moment. Slowly, and I mean slowly, but surely I began to re-gain my will to live.
Your Grief Is Unique
I made a promise to Samuel that I would not let anyone forget him. He had a purpose in this life and maybe his purpose was meant to be shared by me. I know what it is like to lose your will to live. I know what it is like to experience a grief so profound it changes your world view. Grief is an experience that is unique which can also make it very isolating. I tried to find comfort in local support groups, online support groups, and confiding in friends but none of it could seem to ease my pain. I have come to accept that this trauma and grief has changed me, as it usually does. I am no longer the person I was before because of my loss. I had to create new pathways for myself and rediscover my sense of purpose.
Normal Is Just a Setting On the Dryer
If you are in the middle of grief, know that your grief is normal. It is normal to experience anger one day and sadness the next. If you are interested, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross created a grief cycle that can illustrate the stages of grief. She discovered that the stages of grief are not always experienced in a chronological order and they can be re-visited over one’s lifetime. Grief is complicated and it can be messy and that is okay.
If you have lost a child, I have found certain resources to be helpful. I purchased a book for myself and one for my children to help us process our loss. I will be honest and say I cannot read the children’s book without crying; however, it has greatly helped my daughter understand the loss of her brother. In all transparency, the above links are affiliate links, which means I would get a portion of what you pay to Amazon because of my referral; however, I would not endorse a product I do not have experience with.
Other wonderful websites I have used are:
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