I walked in the front door to my empty house. The “Welcome home, Ruthie Lou!” sign had been taken down, the pack and play was put away, and the bassinet was no longer next to my bed. The items that were set up in anticipation for our daughter’s arrival had been removed because she lived only 33 days. She never came home from the hospital.
Our family and friends tried to soothe our broken hearts, but my heart was destroyed. It had shattered into 5 million pieces and I didn’t know how to mend it. I missed my baby more than words could express. Forever felt an overwhelming amount of time to live without my daughter. I constantly experienced anxiety and struggled with fear, wondering an endless amount of questions:
How will I survive this loss?
Will I always live in this much pain?
Will I smile, laugh or feel joy again?
Is life worth living without my daughter?
I missed the way life used to feel. I missed the old me, the one who didn’t know the trauma of her baby dying. I missed my husband and the excitement that we had for our future. I worried about how future children might be affected never knowing the baby who came before them. I felt overwhelmed at how to include my extended family into our life. I felt like a shell of the person I was before.
First and foremost, I needed to take care of my heart. I quickly learned that I could not tend to anyone else’s needs if I was not taken care of. I had so much internal angst that lived inside my head for a long time. Slowly, I started seeing glimpses of life again. I started to see me as a priority and found ways to put one foot in front of the other.
My husband and I, although we were in this together, felt like we lived in two separate universes. We handled our grief so differently and I often wondered what he was thinking and feeling.
And, my extended family felt the wrath of this loss. Not only did they feel my pain, but they lost their cousin, their niece, their grand-daughter. A little person was missing at every family gathering and we felt her loss over and over again during holidays and celebrations. My family would have done anything to comfort us, but they were experiencing their own grief. I could not let them in.
Now having living children, although they were born after our loss, they still have lots of questions about their sister. They wonder who she was and why she’s not here anymore. They love her and want to celebrate her with us. Over the years I have had to be creative and conscious of their experience as they try to navigate this subject that is hard for even adults to comprehend. Sometimes their questions leave me in tears too, but I am still expected to parent them through this.
I know you don’t want to be here and I wish you weren’t, but please let me help guide you through. I want to offer hope to you, that it won’t always feel like this. Unfortunately, time is not the healer of all wounds. Time alone will not heal this. You must choose to take the first step.
I know the severe pain, loneliness and isolation from missing your baby. I understand the worry, fear and anxiety that follows you. In the 6 years since our daughter died, I have immersed myself in grief recovery and healing my broken heart. My passion is helping families like mine to find peace in their hearts. Let me show you what I have learned.
I want to share 100+ simple ways to connect with your heart, how to connect with your husband, your living children and your extended family. If somebody would have offered me a way through this, even just to hold my hand I would have been so grateful! I want to do that for you. I am here, holding your hand and offering you more than 100 ways to live in this present moment and to put one foot in front of the other.
In this ebook I share:
I am personally vetting every item listed, either by my own experience or that of other loss moms. Now I can’t guarantee EVERY item will be your thing, but I can guarantee that you will find SOMETHING comforting here. You won’t know until you try.
I know life feels overwhelming. Don’t walk this path alone. Let me hold your hand. Nurture your relationships, especially the one with yourself. Tend to your heart. Take care of you. Choose healing. Find peace. Experience love and joy again.
It will not always feel like this. I promise.
I have always (in my adult years) believed that these two cannot reside in the same space, they are opposite forces so you cannot hold one if you are in the midst of another. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real and Faith is the ability believe in something that you cannot yet see. Both are beliefs, both require a ton of energy.
I have tried, am trying, and will continue to try to sit in faith that all is well with this baby. It is my constant struggle. I feel this baby move in my belly and I want to believe with all my heart that there is nothing but perfection growing inside me which I know to be true because my other two babies were also perfection. But, then again, one of my perfect babies died.
The fear that lives inside my soul runs deeper than I can explain in words. My daughter whom I carried under my heart and in my arms, who I loved and love, died as we held her. It is terrifying, it is overwhelming, it is nothing I want to re-live ever again. And so, for the most part, my fear is best kept at bay. When it rises, I work through it. When I know I am being neurotic, unreasonable and illogical I acknowledge that I am experiencing fear and process it, giving honor to the work that I have done on my heart while also accepting that this work may never fully be done. How could you ever be done processing that your child has died? You can't. You absolutely can be healthy and live in this world again and even find joy in your heart again, but there is no understanding or rationalizing the death of your baby.
In normal life, I can manage. I can talk myself out of the irrational fears that I hold regarding Reid and the potential unsafe situations that could befall him. I remind myself that he is safe and I do not project my fear into him, that is my burden to bear, not his to carry. But this pregnancy, as was with Reid's, is traumatic in ways that I wish I never had to experience, both for me and this baby.
Being pregnant when your baby has died, is like being in the same car accident and knowing the outcome but expecting different results. It is putting your whole faith and trust into something that you have already bet on but lost, and hoping that this time is different. It's truly not fair. Not for me and not for this baby.
I am spending the last days of this pregnancy wanting this baby to arrive so fervently that I am not even enjoying the miracle that this life brings. I love being pregnant, I even love giving birth and I am letting my fear steal that joy from me. This is my last baby, I want to savor this time, these kicks, these special moments that I hold this baby before anyone else in the world gets to meet him/her. I already know this baby, right now this baby is mine and soon enough I will have to share and I want to treasure this special time. But, I also need to acknowledge aloud that this fear is real.
I wish that others could acknowledge this fear with me. I am tired of the check-ins and small talk of this pregnancy. The daily messages that are innocent and kind but ultimately feel stressful. It's not that I don't appreciate them, I am just tired, also anxious, emotional and hormonal. I am anxious, too... Yes, I am huge. No, I am not overdue. Of course, I am ready. All that chitter chatter just mounts my anxiety of the real words that I want to hear.
"I am scared, too."
"I hold the space for you."
"I am hoping for life with you."
"I don't know if it will be ok, but I love you."
I am not (really) physically uncomfortable. I am not "over" this pregnancy yet. If I could be certain that the outcome is positive then I would actually want a little more time in this sacred place of growing a human. But ultimately, I just want to know that this baby will survive delivery and be healthy to live a long life that we have imagined in our family. I also want to feel sane. Not be reassured that everything will be ok when there is not one person (other than this baby) who can know that for sure. And for that, I must wait.
As we have been for months, I am still waiting....
Hidden in that space of wanting you here so badly is the fear. The fear that you are too large for my body to birth, the fear that I will not open enough for you to fit, the fear of you being unhealthy or dying. I am walking a tightrope of faith and fear right now.
Strangers ask me 100 questions that the billboard of my belly cannot answer so it fills this empty void of silence everywhere; in a grocery store, the bank, the pool, the gym, the locker room shower.
"How may weeks are you?"
"Is this your first?"
"Do you know the gender?"
All questions that I am curious to know when I stumble upon a beautiful pregnant mama, but in my life I have learned to smile at her while silently wishing her peace and a living and healthy baby.
It's not that these questions are anything but naive conversation, but it forces me to be taken out of the present moment to be thrusted into the future, a place that is not guaranteed.. Living in the present is the only space I have control over and any thoughts to this baby's birth and imagining baby at home feel like dejavu, and propels me back to the time in my life where pregnancy equaled life with a baby at home & quite honestly to remember that space traumatizes me.
It's so difficult for others to picture a glimpse into this time, the weight of it, how keeping my composure is a moment by moment task. But I am here, I am present, I am working minute by minute to prepare my body, mind and soul the job that lay ahead, labor and delivery.
My heart is ready for you sweet baby. My chests longs to feel the weight of your beating heart, and I am scared. I am scared I won't get to keep you. I am scared that something is wrong or that your birth will be harmful. What I want to feel is full faith that I am capable to birth you, that you will fit my body perfectly and that you are as anxious to meet me as I am to meet you. .
These waiting days are hard. I have survived the worst, I am waiting to celebrate the best. I hope it's my turn to experience a peaceful delivery this time.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.