The Grieving Optimist: How Love and Joy became part of my Stillbirth story

After the death of a baby it’s hard to believe in happiness

 

There is no avoiding the grief and devastation, when it comes it encompasses everything, your world shatters. Nothing can prepare you for the onslaught that happens when you hear those few words: “There is no heartbeat.” It wasn’t just her death, but the death of all she would mean to us and all she was meant to become in her life. The dark clouds gather quickly and I don’t really know when they began to disperse for us, there’s no telling when the light began to shine through.

When we were in hospital being induced into labour I lay on the bed turned to my husband and said, “It’s her birthday today can you get some flowers for the room so it can look beautiful when she arrives”. He came back with the biggest most colourful bouquet he could find and a beautifully fluffy teddy bear. To find anything to smile about on a day like that was hard to imagine, but there it was, a break in the clouds.

 

In the hospital after her birth, I was asked if we wanted to move to the general ward, away from maternity. I declined, having just given birth I wanted to be close the appropriate care. In the early morning, before the ward woke, I was nuzzling my baby girl, looking over her features and bonding enough to last beyond her death. Then slowly it began, one little baby in a nearby room. A little wail, a cry of babies learning to use their voices. I told my daughter to wait for it, in a minute the whole ward would awake and full of the cries of newborns. There I sat with a smile on my face, my own daughter was never to join the chorus as she lay in my arms, as life awoke around me. Yes it was sad, but it was reality. Like dominos the entire ward was buzzing in a matter of minutes. A little moment to remember before the sadness of the day unfolded yet again.

I recall being pregnant with her, and how much love I felt for her then and how much love I still felt for her when she was born. I smiled at her even though she couldn’t smile back and thought how that love would always be there even though she could not. When I think of her I think of the love, the loss is always there that will never change, but I can feel the love too. The unconditional and everlasting love she lived her entire existence within and it makes me smile.

With that love I felt the sunlight in me again, being able to move forward and have her story become part of my story without it being a negative or a burden to me; her life was never a burden and I am very proud to be her mother. She cannot be here with me everyday and I will always miss and yearn for the cuddles’ she could never give me, but her short life gave me so much colour and warmth and I remember those feelings alongside the grief.

For a time it can seem like life continues in spite of your loss as if to mock you in its easy return to normality, but now I see my life as fuller because of having her be part of it. There are always days where my heart breaks down again and all the raw emotions come flooding back, but my heart knows that those days are a normal part of grieving for her. My grief for her is tied up in my love for her. Love is a strong emotion and it’s the love that fills my heart.

So it may seem strange to hear but I am actually thankful, not for her death – it still devastates me; but thankful for her life. Her life came and went quickly and it shone so brightly that at the point where our hearts met my life was forever changed.

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