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.
One of the least-talked-about aspects of stillbirth and pregnancy loss is that postpartum bodies still carry weight & produce milk, whether you have a living child or not. This is my journey with my postpartum body after stillbirth.
After Adrian’s death, I came home from the hospital to a fully furnished nursery and without a living child. I wanted nothing more than to sleep for weeks, but I had to deal with milk, and funeral planning, and all the minutiae of being postpartum without a living child.
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?”
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. Thank you. Thank you for holding my son, for cradling him even in death. He only ever knew love in 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.
My son had a favorite place to kick me when I was pregnant. After he died, I documented this place with a tattoo of his footprints. Pregnant with my daughter now, she kicks in the same place, and it stimulates so many memories.
29 October 2017 is the day where I cleaned the last of my things from my house, I found the breast milk that expired before it made it to the bank.
Today, I put on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans. They are tight, and my body fills them differently, but they do fit. And this, surprisingly, is also hard for me—as hard as I worked to get here, as much as I thought wearing “normal” clothing would be a cure for at least part of what ails me, I also miss it. I miss being pregnant.
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 had a postpartum body and no living child.
Friday the 13th was the point of equidistance—as equally spaced between Adrian’s death as from the beginning of my pregnancy with him. I thought it fitting, then, this was the day my tattoo artist had available. This was the day I received a footprint tattoo honoring my stillborn child.
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.
I’ve been enamored with the 4th Trimester Bodies Project for years. I planned to participate myself after my first child was born. I did participate, even though my child had died. It was still a amazing experience.
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.