Broken. It all starts with the words “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” In that moment, I felt my own heart shatter into a million little pieces. I’ve been wrecked – mind, body, and soul.
Body. My whole life I’ve faced illnesses, broken bones, and allergies. I’ve had multiple minor surgeries over the last 12 years. Nothing has been worse than the surgery to remove my unborn child. Even though the procedure itself was easy, I woke up the following day tense and stiff from stress. I felt as though I had whiplash from a car accident. I’ve spent months resenting my body for failing me and my baby.
Mind. The negative thoughts are constant. You wonder what you did wrong, what you could have done better, and what your life would be like if things had gone according to your plan. It seems inevitable that there’s a blame you place on yourself in an attempt to regain control of the situation.
Soul. Losing my child was absolutely without a doubt the worst thing I’ve ever faced. It’s an experience and pain that is with me all day every day. Though I was able to find comfort in meeting women who have had a similar experience, the realization that so many women know this pain has weighed heavy on me.
These are the things I wish I could have told myself 5 months ago:
Body. Love your body. Appreciate that you were able to create a life, because that truly is a miracle. Find ways to care for it. Eat well, exercise, rest, relax, indulge. Taking care of your body and loving yourself is difficult during the grieving process, but it’s so important.
Mind. This is not your fault. If you had a friend going through this experience, would you say the same hurtful things you’ve said to yourself to her? Of course not! If you wouldn’t say the words to a friend, make a point to not say them to yourself. Blame is not a helpful tool in the recovery process – make no space for it in your mind.
Soul. Recognize that this is a tragedy. It’s absolutely awful, and you deserve time to be sad. Allow yourself to process the loss and make space for that child in your heart, it will always be with you. Find ways to remember them and smile. Buy a set of wind chimes that will make beautiful music in the wind. Find ways to reconnect with nature. Make a keepsake box to hold all the physical reminders you have of your little one. Go ahead and find ways to remember them, because their presence will always be with you.
I’m so glad that you’ve found this site, and I want to remind you that you are not alone. There is an entire community of women who know and understand what you are going through. The thoughts and feelings you’re having right now are something we’ve thought and felt, too. Please be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time and space you need to work through your loss. We are so very sorry for your loss and we are holding space for you.
Today is the last day of school for my stepchildren. I’m full of warm feelings, excitement, and hope as we kick off summer and I’ve decided to make today the start of a new year for myself. I’m done with the difficult times that 2017 brought, and I’m moving on (possibly with my middle finger in the air, flipping off the worst 6 months of my life as we drive to the beach next week). I’m not even sorry that I’m not sorry!
During this year, I’ve realized that rock bottom has a basement and I’ve been stuck in there for months. Just like the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I’m breaking out and taking on the world, and I’m determined to do it with her same enthusiasm. I’ll be starting a new role at work sometime this month. I’ve signed up for scuba training in July and I’m ready to explore a part of the world I’ve never seen. We’ve (finally) booked our honeymoon trip for the end of the summer and I’ll be able to put those new diving skills to the test. I’m determined to get my body back into shape and start feeling like myself again. Start loving myself again.
There’s something about the warmth of the sun on my (overly sun screened) face that makes stress melt away. I’m ready to feel the sand sink under my feet instead of feeling like I’m the one sinking in quicksand. I’m ready for the cool waves to wash over me and carry my sorrows back into the sea. I’m ready to listen to the sounds of the world and let them drown the noise in my mind. And I’m ready to comb the beaches looking for a beautiful, unique treasure to take home with me. There’s nothing that cures you like salt water…sweat, tears, and the sea.
So, I close my eyes to old ends. And open my heart to new beginnings.
Today was the first time since our loss that I had to face someone in person who was grieving a recent loss. I honestly thought I’d be better prepared now to comfort someone, but as soon as my eyes met hers, all the words I had thought I would say flew out of my mind. The only things I could come up with were “I’m so sorry” and “let me know if there’s anything we can do.” I could feel myself cringing as I said them. I’m so disappointed those were the best words I could manage.
I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking about the people I’ve lost. My grandpas, an aunt, a few friends, a school principal, a neighbor of mine who never came back from war. I keep trying to wrap my mind around what it means for these people to be gone. It hurts and stings because you know you’ll never see them smile or laugh again. Endings are always difficult, especially when you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.
At some point, the cards stop arriving, the flowers wilt, and the sympathy comes to an end. Grief never stops for a loved one. Like the ocean, memories ebb and flow. Sometimes they roll in just far enough to tickle our toes and bring a smile to our face, and other times they crash into us and knock us off our feet.
So what’s the one thing that you can do for a grieving person to make them feel better?
It’s that simple. We all just want our love ones remembered. We want them to live on beyond our memories. Say their name, share a story, and find ways to honor them.
On this Memorial Day, I remember Kristopher Higdon. The boy across the street who never came home from war. You are not forgotten!
This post is going to be a tough one to share. It’s about all the things that have gone on inside my head but I’ve been too scared to say out loud. I’m worried that saying them will result in a family member calling a mental health professional and telling them I’ve lost my marbles and need help. Then I remember I’ve already seen my counselor and she ended up crying in my last session as much as I did. Maybe more people have experienced these feelings but they are just difficult to discuss. Maybe all these abnormal thoughts are actually normal?
Distractions have become my best friend and my only comfort. I find it difficult to focus on daily tasks and find myself wondering how things could have been. The only way I can make it through a day is to listen to an audio book, stream a podcast, or play music. These distractions keep the tears at bay and make me feel like I’m normal. More than anything I want to feel normal again.
Talking about my feelings helps. I know the dead baby topic is tough, but I am so thankful when someone asks me how I’m doing and opens the door for me to discuss all the things going on in my mind. I like talking about my baby as much as any mother would!
Death has become a fascination for me. Not in the sense that I’m contemplating it, but that I want to understand more about it. I go to bed every night watching Forensic Files. I stream podcasts about killers, cold case files, and solving murders. Being able to talk about death makes it feel more scientific, and less emotional.
Fear consumes me and I worry that I may lose someone else close to me. I’m always worried that I’ll lose Bill or my family or the kids. I hug people more. I tell Bill I love him so many times a day I lose count. I save voicemails from my grandma and cherish that I have a recording of her telling me she loves me. I find myself checking on my dog while she’s sleeping to make sure she’s still breathing.
Sleep seems more important than oxygen. I crave it all the time. Never enough sleep. And I look forward to a time when my thoughts go silent and my body can rest.
Home is the only place I want to be. There’s a comfort in being in my house surrounded by familiar things. Home is the only place in my life that’s free from emotional triggers.
Emotional triggers limit my desire to leave the house. A couple of months ago, I broke down in a restaurant when I was seated next to a new mom and her infant. Hearing the baby cry sent me over the edge. I began crying hysterically and had to leave the table until they left the restaurant. My sister in law hugged me and held me as I cried uncontrollably. Honestly, I’m humiliated by the incident and terrified it might happen again. I find myself longing to hold a baby, but I am not sure if that will cause another meltdown or if I’ll never want to give it back.
Baby seems like the only answer. It’s so strange for me because I used to think I never wanted a child of my own, and now it’s all I can think about. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel normal again unless I have one. Not that another baby can ever replace ours, but it can make me a mother and I long to be one.
Anxious that another pregnancy could lead to another loss. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to face this again. I don’t think I can lose another part of myself, when I feel like I’ve already lost so much.
I want a break. I wish there was a way to take off work for a while and let myself grieve and heal. It sounds like a dream to have a day with no commitments when I could sleep in, sip coffee in the back yard, and read a book. I’d love to fill my days exploring a hillside during a hike and seeing nature’s reminders that life finds a way. I want to find a way to be okay.
It’s not okay. Previously when people would ever tell me “I’m sorry,” my go to answer was “it’s okay.” The first time someone told me they were sorry about our loss, my instinct was to reply “it’s okay.” I stood there silent, trying to think of a way I could respond. I’ve found that the best thing to say is “thank you” and let myself keep believing that it’s not okay and I’m not okay, but that’s okay.
If you’re struggling with a loss and want someone to talk with, I am here for you. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I will always be here to listen to your worries and fears. Sending you big hugs! ❤
A loss brings out so many raw emotions in us, but I’ve realized that it also brings beauty. When you’re faced with death, it dawns on you how fragile life is. I’ve never felt so amazed and overwhelmed by all of the things that have to go right for a life to come into existence. It’s a perfect storm of timing, genetics, and external conditions. Since our loss, I’ve felt so connected with nature. Watching birds build nests around our home out of twigs and dirt. Seeing trees grow in our flowerbed from acorns a squirrel buried. Having a plant bloom again for the first time in spring.
Tiny miracles are all around us. It takes a miracle to create life, and millions of miracles each day that keep us alive. If you’ve ever narrowly escaped a traffic accident, you know what I mean. You suddenly become thankful that it took you 5 extra seconds to find your keys that morning, when you were previously frustrated by the inconvenience of them being misplaced.
In my case, it’s strengthened my relationship with the Lord and for that I am forever grateful. I’ve learned that God can fill voids that no person can fill. He can repair a heart and breathe hope into it again.
Grief has become a common ground for me to make friends with people who were previously strangers. Nothing brings people closer together than a shared painful experience. I’m forever thankful for the new friends I’ve met and how this experience strengthened my existing friendships.
Despite how fragile our existence is, I’ve learned that I’m incredibly resilient and strong. I feel like I’ve become a better person through my grieving process. I feel like I can connect with others on a deeper level than I did before. There truly is nothing to make you more grateful than living through a loss.
You learn that no one has the right words, because there are no right words that can comfort you when you’ve lost someone you love. You learn that the only thing you have control of in life is how you process, experience and react. You learn that you get stronger one day at a time. Before you know it, you’re flying with your own wings. Just like a phoenix, beauty rises from the ashes.
To all my sweet friends flying with their own wings…I’m so thankful for you. I’m praying for you and sending you hugs always! ❤
The latin phrase “alis volat propiis” is translated to “she flies with her own wings.”
I’m a nester by nature. There’s always been a part of me that likes to surround myself with things that comfort me. Some might call it sentimental, others (
not naming names MOM!) may have called me a “pack rat.” I’ve managed to keep this flaw quality under control as I’ve gotten older; however, odds are you can pick out any item in my home and I’ll be able to give you a full story behind it. When I give gifts to loved ones, I do it with thoughtfulness and consideration.
When I was single, I listened to some audio books about finding your soulmate. They sounded incredibly sappy but ended up being so helpful. One of the chapters talks about holding an intention for things you want to call into your life. By creating physical space for someone, you also start making space in your mind and heart for them. The author gave the example that if you want to call your beloved into your life, you can start by making space in your home. Empty your things out of one of your nightstands, clean out your dressers and make sure your clothing only takes up half of your closet. I remember feeling silly making space for someone who wasn’t in my life, but within that same year those spaces would become occupied by my husband’s clothes and belongings.
As God started putting the idea of being a mother in my heart, I started collecting things for my future child. Every time I saw an adorable stuffed animal, I bought it and stored it in my spare bedroom. If the theory worked for calling my husband into my life, then surely having items picked out for my child would also call him/her into my life.
It’s probably no surprise that I went shopping for my baby before the strip turned pink. I purchased a yellow rocking chair and ottoman from a neighbor. I picked out the perfect crib and sleepy sheep bedding. We’d already designated our office to become the nursery so we could have the baby downstairs closer to our bedroom and kitchen. We moved out the desk and chair and made space for our crib to be delivered a few days before our 11 week appointment. When the crib arrived, the delivery men opened the boxes and started the assembly process. As the last rail was unwrapped, they noticed it was cracked. The crib had to be boxed up and returned since it was a safety hazard. When they left with the broken crib I remember feeling so sad that my nursery would have to stay empty. I had no idea just how empty that room would soon be.
Three days later, my heart would be broken too and my dreams shattered. My husband called the store to tell them that we didn’t need them to send a replacement crib after all. We returned the unopened bedding. I wish I were here in this room preparing a warm, cozy space for our newborn to sleep, but instead we moved the desk back in and the only thing I’m creating is a blog about the baby I’ll never hold in my arms.
The only remains of the nursery are a single bookcase which still holds my books about pregnancy and childbirth (and now books about molar pregnancies, gestational trophoblastic disease, and grieving a child I never knew) and those soft, snuggly stuffed animals. They hold space in my heart reminding me that hope isn’t lost…that this room may one day be filled with a sleepy eyed baby, first steps, and bedtime stories. But they also remain in this room holding space for our baby in heaven. She is gone, but she used to be mine.
I know these lyrics aren’t about losing a baby, but over the last few months I’ve found so much comfort in this song. Sometimes I feel like I not only lost my baby, but I’ve lost myself. As usual, Sara Bareilles is able to nail so many of my emotions in her lyrics. If you haven’t heard this song, I highly recommend giving it a listen! I’ve underlined my favorite parts of the lyrics below.
She Used To Be Mine – by Sara Bareilles
It’s not simple to say
Most days I don’t recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used to be
Although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl
She’s imperfect but she tries
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine
It’s not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person
And makes you believe it’s all true
And now I’ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew
Who’ll be reckless just enough
Who’ll get hurt
But who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised
And gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day
‘Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone but used to be mine
Used to be mine
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine
One of the strangest things about a miscarriage is not knowing how to interact with moms who are still happily pregnant after your loss. The day we found out we lost our baby, I was messaging with a long time friend of mine who is due about a month before I was. We had spent weeks sharing in each other’s excitement and she was looking forward to hearing about my appointment almost as much as I was excited to share details. After we had trouble finding a heartbeat on the doppler, I was sent to the imaging suite. I quickly sent my friend a panicked message as we sat in the waiting room.
In that moment, she comforted me in ways that others couldn’t. She knew exactly I felt because she had experienced a loss herself years ago. That day she was so kind to me, and I felt awful knowing that my tragic experience probably caused her unnecessary worry and stress about her own baby.
When we spoke again, I expected to feel jealous or envious that she still had a healthy pregnancy, but I never once did. I’ve read that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a loss and I told her that if my baby had to be the 1 that didn’t survive, that I’m so thankful that her baby was one of the 3 that did. I started placing my hope into her baby and praying that he would be born perfectly healthy in July.
As word spread about my loss, I felt my pregnant friends withdraw a bit. Perhaps with the intent to ease my pain. Though, on this side of things, it sometimes made me feel like my sadness and misfortune was contagious. That my unhappiness and heartache could put their happiness and joy at risk. I understand that perception is not reality, but it’s how I felt.
Two days after my D&C, I went shopping for baby books for friends who had a shower that day. I expected it to feel painful and was surprised that it made me feel better. Buying those books was the first time I got out of bed, showered, and dried my eyes. It gave me a reason to move forward. It ripped off the proverbial band-aid before jealousy and envy had a chance to scab over my deep wounds.
I just want you to know that I am so happy that your pregnancy/baby is healthy. I wish no woman ever had to feel the heartache of losing a child. If I decline a shower invitation, it’s only because I’m worried I might end up crying and spoiling your special, well-deserved day. I still adore seeing your growing belly/your baby’s precious face on your social media sites. I desperately want to hold and snuggle your baby and breathe in that sweet newborn smell. Your baby brings me so much hope. They are what make me feel more excited than fearful to try again. Thank you for sharing part of your joy with me. ❤
Here’s a post about GTD that I wrote for Courageous Mothers Blog! ❤
GTD. What’s that, you wonder? When you’re preparing for or expecting a baby, your mind is full of acronyms like BBT (Basal Body Temperature), AF (Aunt Flo), DPO (Days Past Ovulation), BFP (Big Fat Positive), FTM (First Time Mom), PG (Pregnant), and OBGYN. If you were to Google the acronym “GTD”, it’s likely that the first result is a link to the American Cancer Society’s website. Strange, isn’t it? Usually when a person thinks about pregnancy, it doesn’t include the word cancer.
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease is a group of rare tumors that form as a result of a pregnancy. While the tumors are usually noncancerous, some forms of GTD can become malignant and spread to other parts of a woman’s body. That’s right, a woman who was hoping to grow a precious baby inside her could end up having a tumor grow instead.
There are two main groups of GTD – hydatidiform moles (molar pregnancies)…
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“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
It’s said there are 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’ve questioned this theory recently, because no matter how much time passes, a parent can never fully accept that their baby is gone.
Denial is what makes your experience feel like a nightmare. You wonder if it really happened, or did you just imagine it? Of course this didn’t happen to you, it only happens to other people. When you lose a baby, it’s easy to feel denial because there’s a lack of physical evidence that they ever existed. Often times there are no photos, no clothing or toys to serve as sweet reminders, and there are no memories to reflect on. How you you grieve someone you had to say goodbye to before you ever had the chance to say hello?
Anger is what makes the experience begin to feel real. You feel angry that your baby is gone and that a part of your heart and soul is gone, too. You feel angry that there is nothing that could have been done to change the outcome. Angry that you never saw this coming. Angry that your body betrayed you and your baby. Angry that no one can make you feel better. Angry that you were robbed of memories with your child.
Bargaining is your desperate and failed attempt to regain control of the situation. Wishing that you could trade in your life so that your baby would have one. I begged God to undo the nightmare. I said “I want my baby back” so many times I sounded like a Chili’s commercial.
Depression becomes a constant. Your new normal. It’s what makes you feel impossibly empty. Depression makes you dread the night, and dread the dawn. I cried every night when I got into bed because I wasn’t ready for the day to end and for all my thoughts to catch up with me. I woke up in the middle of the night crying and reaching for my belly. I woke up the next morning crying because I wasn’t ready for the start of another day, knowing that a new day took me further and further from the day when my baby was growing inside me.
I’m starting to think that the possible 5th stage of grief is patience. You won’t ever fully accept the reality that your baby is gone because it’s too heartbreaking, but you will learn what patience means. Patience is learning that the only thing that can make you feel better is time. It’s learning that you are not in control and that holding anger in your heart serves no purpose. Patience is learning that you can overcome the most unimaginable heartache one day at a time.
To my angel baby. Thank you for making me a mama! 💕