They say that once you lay eyes on a new life that you’ve made, life comes full-circle. I believe that most parents would agree that the greatest love you’ve ever known starts much sooner than the moment the child exits the womb. It starts when you first receive the news, whether it comes from a home pregnancy test, your doctor’s mouth, your spouse’s tears of joy, or an adoption agency’s call. It doesn’t matter when or how that moment happens; there’s no turning back the clocks on the pure, incredible joy that immediately encompasses your heart.
Some of us, though, are robbed of our joy. Tragedy pries it from our very hands without our consent or any warning. It doesn’t matter when that thief in the night strikes; the loss is devastating. Losing a child will shatter your heart and consume your soul with a cool, bitter darkness. Knowing that your child died inside of you can fill your thoughts with guilt and pain; feelings so powerful that they will bring even the strongest parent to their knees.
Losing a child overwhelms us with emotions: sadness, guilt, wondering, and contemplation.
There’s a sadness we carry with us forever. With every beat of our heart, there’s a special ache just for the innocent love that we lost entirely too soon. There’s a twinge of pain that comes at the most random times, serving as a subtle reminder that death’s darkness never really fades away entirely.
As each anniversary strikes you, as you encounter stunning, glowing newly-pregnant moms, your tears may fall. The longing for the one you lost may hit in the evening or when you see your favorite children’s book for sale. Even your brightest smiles and most genuine laughs can become taint in an instant when your thoughts drift to that beautiful baby who was once yours.
Then, there’s the crushing weight of the guilt; the avalanche of blame and hatred that buries you.
It’s a feeling of inadequacy; the thought that you were not enough to save your own child’s life. The guilt comes in massive, aggressive waves that swallow you whole. Wondering what you could have done differently sinks you deeply into a stormy sea of chagrin.
The hardest part is the constant wondering. Would she have bore my dazzling, fiery hair? Could she have played the cello, or would she have preferred to dance? Would he have possessed his father’s calming eyes? Which book would have been his favorite to read with me before bed? The burning questions eat away at you; weighing you down and weathering away any remaining sense of strength.
Finally, you contemplate what to do next.
You try to decide how to best memorialize this sweet, perfect child that had been growing in your womb but life robbed from you too soon. You will contemplate how to share the news, how to break the ice to friends and family in the coming months as everyone tiptoes around you and your volatile emotions. Your biggest decision is the most problematic: How do I go on after this? How do I continue living?
The scars will remain and run deep, but yes, you will continue living even after this loss.
Today, on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, many women and their significant others are still living with the pain of losing a child, either through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss. This day is one of remembrance, mourning, and awareness. It’s a day to remember those goodbyes that we never fully, properly had the opportunity to tell those tiny, helpless souls who left the world far too quickly
It is true that the most painful goodbyes are those you never said and never explained, like losing a pregnancy or a tiny human that you’ve carried and loved. But, in a funny sort of way, that’s the most beautiful part, isn’t it? From the moment you knew your child was inside you, all you felt was love. All your precious child ever knew, were the most delightful, wonderful of emotions: pure, immeasurable love and uninhibited joy.