In my twenties, when I thought about having children, I assumed I would meet someone, get married, and life would move forward from there. Of course, life doesn’t always happen the way we plan. When I hadn’t found the “right” person by age 30, I realized I needed to make a choice — I could either keep looking for a partner and gamble on decreasing fertility and increasing odds of birth defects as I aged, or I could focus on what I decided was more important to me — having a child. I chose to become a Single Mother by Choice.I never thought being a single mother would be easy, but odds weighed, it was the right decision for me. Because I acknowledged the difficulty, and because I wanted to give my child the best possible future, I spent a few years getting ready. I paid off debt, bought a house, finished my Master’s Degree, and situated myself into a new position where I wasn’t working the crazy hours I used to. It took time, and there were a few hiccups, but everything mostly came together easily.
When I became pregnant, I was ecstatic. There was never a time I wasn’t wholly committed to and excited about my son. I bought his first onesie the day of my positive pregnancy test, and I started interviewing doulas at six weeks. I built my life around ensuring I was prepared to be his mom.
Our pregnancy wasn’t “easy,” but it was fairly textbook. I planned for a midwife-assisted natural birth, but continued seeing a more traditional hospital-based practice in case of emergency. I attended classes and read all the books. I thought I was prepared for everything.
On 29 June, 2017, during a routine medical appointment on the morning of my 41st week of pregnancy, I was informed my son had no heartbeat. I had experienced symptoms of preeclampsia, and he had been moving less than usual the previous week, but none of my providers had been concerned. Despite concurrent care, participation in a home nurse education program, and 50+ hours spent reading books and attending childbirth classes, I was blindsided. I had no idea that babies died.
I spent the next year of my life in a fog. Instead of monthly photos, blowout diapers, and breastfeeding, I dealt with milk donation, missed milestones, and grief-induced stupidity. Human interaction became incredibly difficult. Some people said insensitive and stupid things, and some disappeared entirely. When I went back to work after only 7 weeks, my greatest fear was divided between crying if someone asked about my son, and crying if they didn’t. And through it all, I continued to experience all the normal aspects of being postpartum. I was a mother without a living son.
One of the few things I am grateful for is that I wrote to my son throughout our pregnancy. I wrote to him in excitement; I wrote to him in love. And after he died, I kept writing. About three months after his death, I thought about sharing these letters in some public way. I was nervous, but I wondered if this might be a method to share important information with the world. Because it’s an important and misunderstood aspect of nature that babies die, and mothers grieve. And grief is both natural and real.
Nine months later; one year after the death of my son, I am launching this site. I am sharing this story with all of you.
Thank you for being here.