Before the loss of my baby, I didn’t understand the complexities of grief. Sadly, I now know. I don’t expect others to truly get it, but I do hope to open eyes and hearts by sharing some of the challenges of this new life.
I cry all the time. I cry because I’m happy. I cry because I’m sad. I cry because I’m afraid. I cry for the family I wished for and dreamed of. I cry because Callan’s nursery was never finished. I cry for the opportunities he never had. Everything makes me cry. Crying has become so routine and expected.
Pregnant woman and babies elicit all kinds of emotions. Jealousy, the deeply rooted kind that causes anger is often front and center. Beautifully round bellies, beaming smiles, and cute families are the stuff of dreams and reminders of what I don’t have. Confusion and frustration often follow. And then sadness, lots of sadness. All the time.
Everything reminds me of Callan. Literally everything. It’s so hard to do anything productive or efficiently when everything causes me to think about being pregnant, about the baby I’ve lost, and everything that should be. Whether I’m riding in the car, shopping (at far away stores), sitting at my dining room table, or playing with our puppy, thoughts of him are everywhere. Knowing that I grew the most perfect baby boy makes me feel so light and happy, but I'm immediately reminded that he's not here. It feels so unfair.
When pregnant with our sweet baby, I found myself falling in love with my body. I was fascinated with the changes and enjoyed every moment. I happily purchased new clothes that (intentionally) showed off my expanding midsection. I felt amazing. Since loosing Callan, I have been frustrated, disappointed, and angry with my body. It failed me. It failed Dan. And most heartbreakingly, it failed our baby. I looked pregnant for several weeks after he was born and I was horrified. I didn’t want to be seen in public because I was afraid people would ask about my pregnancy. As my belly has slowly returned to it’s usual shape, I find myself longing for my beautiful pregnant body. When my milk came in, I wanted to scream. I didn’t have a baby to feed and it hurt deeply. My milk supply has slowly dried up and again, I find myself wanting to scream as it’s a reminder that we are weeks from loosing are precious baby. I yearn to hold my sweet boy and nurse him as summer breezes blow over us. This body has allowed me to experience complete joy immediately followed by deep, dark heartache. It feels so very cruel.
The world around me has continued as I struggle through the grief of losing my baby. Envelopes from the hospitals and insurance company were already beginning to pile up when we arrived home. Mail continues to arrive and doesn’t only include the usual bills, but also coupons for formula and magazines with adorable baby clothing. Emails from various websites arrive daily in my inbox with suggestions for the best baby gear, reminders for our registry, and discounts for maternity clothing. Leave from work has to still be resolved. I have to worry about insurance if I decide to remain out through the end of the school year. Pregnant friends continue to stay pregnant, growing with each passing week. As life continues forging ahead, I am trying my best to navigate it, but it’s exhausting.
The morning after Callan died, I knew I needed to be open to professional grief support. Dan and I discussed individual and couples counseling. We said we were open to accessing support groups. Unfortunately, we have discovered that the support is difficult to find and often far away. Bereavement groups for perinatal loss exist, but are an hour away and happen only once a month. Counselors in Brattleboro who specialize in grief don’t have openings. The bereavement support coordinator through our local Hospice was unable to give us any helpful avenues and said, “You’re the first family I’ve worked with who has experienced this type of loss.” So I will read, write, and share openly with Dan and anyone who is willing to listen while my search for professional(s) continues.