If you asked me 6 years ago what my future and parenting journey would look like, I guarantee infant loss would not have been in the realm of possibilities….Life is funny though and bad things happen to good people all the time. I never intended to write about this, but my experience with Ellie and this journey has become such a huge part of who I am and how I parent, it seems only natural…
I was lucky enough to have a friend who had sadly already navigated the waters of infant loss. She was a huge resource and offered support that was invaluable and just what I needed. It’s a bond I never wanted to share with her or anyone else, but it is truly a bond that runs deep. I’m hoping by sharing my own experience and journey on here that maybe I can be that person for someone else or at least give others the inspiration to find that person and connect with others. It’s a group no one should have to be in, but if you’re experiencing this it’s a group that will prove invaluable…
I felt lost, alone (even though I wasn't), I felt mad, angry, sad, and I felt like I was living a bad dream. But somehow you pick up the pieces and move forward, these moments and experiences will never leave you, but you will move forward. The saying is "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and it's totally true, but beyond that, I believe that these difficult and heartbreaking times actually make us better versions of ourselves...
Here's some things that were helpful for me:
- Have a spokesperson- my best friend was amazing, I asked her to keep in touch with everyone so I didn't have to, and let our other friends know what was happening
- Address it head-on- I sent a mass email out to friends and family after Ellie passed, letting them know and thanking everyone for their support etc..
- Take a vacation or just a break.... from social media, from life etc.. go to a spa or do something or go somewhere with people who you can just be with.. and take maternity leave still if you have it... I took the time I was allotted off from my Job, and it was the best thing I could have done.
- Look for a support group where you can connect with moms/parents that have walked a similar path. While everyone means well, it's very hard to relate if you haven't experienced this loss. Most hospitals either have a support group or can help connect you with one. There are also some terrific online groups where you can find comfort and connect- I really liked Share Your Story - Through the March of Dimes. I found it an invaluable resource to ask questions especially when it came to trying again.
- When you're ready, think about doing something positive with you terrible experience. I promise you that while it won't bring your baby back or lessen your loss, it will feel good and it will bring a sense of purpose. I starting volunteering and raising money for our local chapter of the March of Dimes in Ellie's memory, and I continue to do so today; for me it feels like the right way to honor her memory and bring purpose and meaning to our loss and experience.
Yes, everyone's experience is different and you might not feel any of what I'm describing, but if you do, don't feel ashamed (it's easy to, but its the last thing you
need). Take it a day at a time and go easy on yourself. There will be little things that will trigger a reaction you didn't expect. There will be situations that are too much and too overwhelming....just be good to yourself.
Here's what was really hard for me:
- For a little while, I was slightly uncomfortable around babies, I couldn't even go to a good friends baby shower
- Facebook bump photos seemed to be all over my news feed and too much to handle..
- It would take all the restraint I could muster not to loose it when I saw pregnant women smoking or parents not attending to their kids (I know this seems judgmental but it just seems unfair in the moment)
- Being left with a postpartum body and no baby
- Answering the questions "do you have kids" "when are you going to have kids" or even now "how many kids do you have"
When you are emotionally and physically ready to try for another baby, be prepared that it will be the longest 9 months of your life... pregnancy on its own can be challenging, but pregnancy after loss is excruciating.. (IMO)... I spent a lot of time at my doctor's office, and her nurse and I were best buds. The best thing you can do is relax, but that's also the hardest thing to do. If your doctor says its ok, do prenatal yoga and breathing, anything to keep you calm. When our Jack finally arrived, I was overjoyed, over the moon exited, and filled with love welcoming our little miracle… but I was still often overcome with emotion thinking about what I missed out on with our little Ellie. Whatever you do, go easy on yourself, be kind to yourself, and do what's best for you and your little family.
If you are reading this and have experienced this, I'm truly sorry you've had to forge this path. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you want to chat.
Thanks as always for stopping by!