There is a lot of discussion in the world about postpartum bodies, but unfortunately very little about postpartum bodies after loss. This is a particular interest of mine, and so I have written about it pretty extensively. I hope the following pieces are of use to you.
Thank you for being here.
I’ve heard fellow loss moms talk about the body issues associated with losing a child before they are born. I’ve never had issues with body dysmorphia; it’s just never been something that I’ve struggled with, but I do have issues with my postpartum body.
I am probably one of those ghosting stories that people complain about on social media. I am probably that person who just disappeared, and people are wondering, “What happened? What did I do wrong?”
So many people run away from my questions, but I still have questions, I deserve more than this.
I found the snow again today. I found flight, and I’m spinning, and it all came back so easily. And I watch as the children go flying down the mountain, and everything feels empty.
You sheltered him for nine months. You expanded with him, kept him safe. I watched you grow stretch marks, tiger stripes. I talked to him through you. I never thought to say thank you.
I have never struggled with the shape of my body; it’s just not something that has ever bothered me. But when my son died in my 41st week of pregnancy, I learned there were so many more components to the body image equation.
I left the hospital in a fugue state. I had thought I was “okay,” but as the first notes of music came on the car stereo, the tears returned. My sister reached across and held my hand, my other hand other clutching the teddy bear from the hospital. I was thankful then for the weight of the bear. It was exactly what I needed.
The hardest physical sensation was the one without a name. It was the thing I felt when I woke up in the morning and my son wasn’t crying. It was the feeling in my arms when they curled around the teddy bear from the hospital, but still felt empty. It was the physical feeling of absence. It felt so heavy.
Last Friday the 13th was also the point of equidistance — as equally spaced between the day that Adrian died as that day was from the “beginning” (first day of my last menstrual period) of my pregnancy with him. I thought it fitting, then, that this was the day my tattoo artist had available.
I’m not living, without you. My body eats and drinks and works and sleeps. I visit with it sometimes. Sometimes I visit with you. Sometimes I feel you in my arms. Sometimes I see you in visions, memories.
I’ve never been very worried about the things most people consider dangerous. I’ve deployed to war zones; I’ve gone scuba diving; I’ve shot handguns, rifles, bow and arrow.
I think of all the signs the providers brushed off. I think of the other signs I just didn’t see. My heart hurts. I wish I could go back in time. I wish I had saved you.
I remember those early days after loss, when I used to go to yoga just to cry. It was a safe, quiet space, and most people didn’t judge me. It was a release.
I have a tattoo at the top of my right rib cage. When I was pregnant with my son, this was his favorite place to poke me. It started with his bottom; I would feel this hard, round pressure. I pushed back sometimes. It felt like a game
It’s strange how we perceive change. Today, I can walk 20,000 steps with something like ease. It’s hard to remember the challenge. The change kind of snuck up on me.
I never thought I was the person who counted, the one making marks on tally forms. I never imagined red x’s on a calendar, and a day that both destroyed and created me.
I started school this month. It’s been intense, learning to live again inside rules and structure. I can’t get up and walk away when I need to be alone with you.
When I started to wake up again, I looked up the project, and realized I could participate. And I emailed Ash, and I signed up, and this past weekend, I flew to Chicago and did it. And it was one of my most beautiful experiences.
The first night I left the house after Alexis* left, I was in a daze. I had walked these streets playing Pokemon Go not even that long ago. It felt like another lifetime.