I realized, the other day, when I was able to tell someone in such a calm manner, “My first child was stillborn”—I realized in the contrast between now and the early days, when I literally could not form those words—This feels like an unwanted new world to me. And maybe what I have forgotten, is not my son himself, but how it felt to grieve.
In conjunction with two beautiful therapists, Mary from Sarah’s Heart and Diane from Diane Biggs Psychotherapy, this latest post is a compilation of frequently asked questions about therapists and therapy, specific to the child loss experience.
Partly through effort, partly through ability, I climbed my way out. I built a new world. And yet, I think I must have subconsciously felt I still had to earn it. Did the old Miranda understand that this too was a legacy?
Someone looked at this website the other day and commented that, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know I was in the military. I never intended to keep this a “secret.” Mainly separate. But how much can you separate of your core identities?
On 28 June 2017, I was 6 days overdue. It was the height of summer in Texas, and I blasted the AC in my home. I lay down on the couch and watched my son kicking and moving in my belly. He was so active that night! By the time I woke up the following morning, he was dead.
I remember what I wore to his funeral, primarily because I was only 11 days postpartum. Instead of wearing maternity clothing like I had planned in those early days, I had to go shopping and find something that didn’t make me look pregnant; that didn’t emphasize the curves of my body; the swelling that remained. A genuinely surreal experience.
The death of my child is an event that lives with me; his absence is palpable; his presence is missing. And this is when I truly began to understand this monster called grief. You ask how one gets past losing a baby, and my answer is still—no. You don’t.
I came across this pregnancy test, and I looked at it again. And I realized, despite so many VIVID memories, the line on the test was PINK, and not blue. What else am I misremembering? What else is lost to the imperfection of the human mind?
I think if we believe in fate, it can cause us to look at events in a symbolic light, and maybe take things a little more hard when they go wrong. Or maybe try to find meaning in the random tragedies of life. Was Adrian *meant* to die? I can’t believe this. It makes fate sound quite cruel.
Sometimes I think we can get caught up in the idea of a new year being a fresh start. We look forward to everything being different on 1 January. But will it be? Are we leaving this pandemic and the rest of our lives behind us? Or do we carry these things with us into each new day?
I didn’t have much experience with death or grief prior to the death of my son, and so I’m embarrassed that I genuinely used to believe everything was “okay” right after the funeral. This is how it’s often portrayed on TV. This is wrong.
In the Before, I always thought of death as a sad experience, but one whose impact would eventually fade. I know now that you never really “get over” the death of someone you love; you can only integrate the loss and pain. And this is a process that is never-ending.
I wonder, sometimes, where to draw the line between a “normal” amount of worry and the amount you feel for a child born after the death of your first. I don’t ever want to stifle her. My pain should never be her burden. And sometimes it just hits me—how much I’ve lost and also hold at the same time.
I realize, when I look back at these moments with pain, that the thing I wanted least to know, was the true value behind the relationships that seemed valuable to me. Because it wasn’t what I thought it to be. And that kind of knowledge is quite hard. The death of my son taught me who people in my life really were, and that is knowledge I would rather not know.
Pregnancy after loss is a complicated journey. These are 10 things I learned about hope, grief, fear, & love, and how my two children can coexist. (Guest post at Pursue Today.)
Integration is waking up in the morning because Peanut is hungry and needs to be changed. Integration is wondering what life would be like with a living second child. Integration is making plans for the future with acknowledgment that things may change. Integration is love AND sadness; grief AND joy. And it’s okay to have ALL of these things, and all at the same time.
June is an intense month for me, because each June, I remember what it’s like to go in for a routine examination and be told my child has no heartbeat. My greatest wish for the world today is to understand the power of GENUINELY informed consent.
I look back on that time now, and it’s like I’m looking at a different person. That old Miranda lived in a different world, where everything felt like it was possible. And even though it has been almost 3 years since then, I think a lot of people don’t understand I’m not that person anymore.
I caught a glimpse of my tattoo in the mirror the other day. The days move so quickly lately, sometimes I forget it’s there. Sometimes I miss the burning underneath my skin, how it felt when everything was new.
Our old house is for sale. In the photos, it looks cluttered. They have a boy and a girl, fully lived-in rooms. We wouldn’t have had that, not there. It still feels weird to look at.
When we talk about things like stillbirth, some are quick to say it’s not concern because it is relatively “rare.” But likelihood does not change impact.
Walking along the pier with my daughter where I used to walk alone, I think about the drastic changes of the past two years. Despite the sweetness of her new life, I don’t feel thankful for the hardship that preceded her. Life doesn’t work that way.
I’m feeling a bit “better” now. I don’t really know what that word means. But I woke up this morning, and it didn’t hurt to get out of bed.
If you were here, would I still feel lonely? I can’t think that my happiness rested on you.
I haven’t written, lately, because words have felt hard. I haven’t written, lately, because my attention hasn’t been focused on you. And I want to apologize, because I remember those early days when I thought I would never stop thinking about you.
In those early days, most things were harder. But grief was easier. It was always present.
A Letter to My Son on His Second Birthday: If they asked me to describe you, I would start with your eyes. I never got to see your eyes, just your long eyelashes. These are just one of the many things I miss.
I miss those moments now, that time when I felt complete in my grief. Because now I yearn for community, and it’s missing.
I promised you I’d be okay. I’m really really trying. But sometimes I realize I didn’t know what I was promising.