Grief – In Living Colour
Grief for me started as I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning, gently nudging the swollen pregnant belly in front of me, call it intuition, gut feeling or mothers voice but when I woke up that morning- I knew. I waited for her morning rolls and kicks, they never came. I nudged her slightly to wake her up, she didn’t respond. I took some deep breathes as I lay in bed, the “what if” and “this sort of thing doesn’t happen to us” very quickly and very sharply crashed into my reality.
I tried to just relax and give her a bit of time to wake up, perhaps she’s sleeping in? it was too early to get up anyhow. No matter how I justified it, no kicks came. I closed my eyes and cried silently as my worst fear grew around me and in my heart of hearts I knew something was critically wrong, my babies are feisty. Claudia, my 32 weeks old baby growing inside me, was feisty too always kicking back when I found her little feet under my ribs. I would tickle them and she would press back against my fingers. Sometimes at night she would give me a whopping great big kick in the bladder or do a uncomfortable roll and hiccup while I read a book. So I knew her reactions well and when she didn’t respond as usual that morning I just knew.
I remember being at the hospital later that morning and just praying that they would tell me she was alright; but no reassurance came, just escalating concern and the silent hesitation of midwives and hushed calling for doctors and then finally the seclusion from other soon to be parents in the ward.
When I finally saw the flat grey lines of the heart monitor and they told me she was dead, what I had known internally suddenly became my reality with just a few words.
The story of her birth is something for another time, but what I lost and gained from being a mother to a child that died has changed me. Grief is such a complex and complicated emotion and now I will have to wear that moniker of “bereaved parent” for the rest of my life. However I wear it very differently to others, my daughters life was never a burden to me and her death although catastrophic was something I couldn’t change (if I could I would have) there was no trauma in her death, no definite cause- she was one of the many unexplained stillbirths that have no proper medical explanation.
Me and the thousands of women per year that have a similar story will all grieve differently. I understand how some women (and men, please don’t forget the dads) cannot bring up the topic of their deceased baby, the emotions are too overwhelming and the pain too real. My emotions are tidal waves on the subject of Claudia’s death and the grief never leaves or lessens, but in my own personal story of grief I am able to discuss Claudia’s life and death very openly and with a sense of deep calm, sadness and love.
It may be uncomfortable to read, but this is reality. My reality is a situation that happens in hospitals everyday and for the mothers and fathers that have to walk out of that hospital without their baby, I write my story so that they know they are not alone and however they choose navigate their personal grief after their babies death, we’re all here just trying to do the best we can.
Keep up the good work, you’re doing amazing. Kyla