Reclaiming your identity after Stillbirth

 

The scars of losing your child at the very beginning of their life are complex to say the least. Grief isn’t fun, it’s hollow and bottomless when you’re the one experiencing it, and full of fear for those who have to witness loved ones drowning in it.

To lose a baby to stillbirth is more than just the loss of your child. You lose the choice to not look for the deeper meaning in all things. In other words, you lose your ability to be naïve in your thoughts and actions, at least that’s what happened to me. In the time that’s passed since my daughter death, my interactions with others have changed, from strangers, to loved ones, to the way I connect to my own self. Every connection touched.

Firstly, I lost my trust. It was shattered. For me it was the trust you have in yourself, the feeling that you have a handle on life and that you have the capabilities to cope with the things you need to. Then in the non-beat of a heart – the time of trusting in the way I had before was gone. Never to be seen again. In its place emerged fear, and that was a time of emptiness. In the emptiness is where began to walk in the dark.

Each step in the dark lays the pathway to a new understanding of what it means to trust again. Too trust the world, to trust yourself, and when trust was able to be felt again, so could love. In the rebuild, your sense of self takes a new form as you gain a new connection to identity.

I now trust my instincts, I trust the vibes I get from people. I trust my ability to read a situation. I trust that my interpretations are far more real than I would have believed previously. The trueness of sincerity, the boldness of enjoyment, the honesty of love, the parallels of empathy. The authenticity of real connections.

Look past the movements, the words, and feel the motivation, see the subtly of body language. The warmth of a genuine smile if far truer than a hundred plastic words of faux sincerity. I trust now that I see these things. I can be connected to my own self in a way that I couldn’t prior to losing a part of my heart within my own child.

I lost my daughter, and with it so many parts of myself, some I will never get back, some I wouldn’t want back, some I have rebuilt with new eyes. It is never just the loss of a baby but a loss of identity. Trust that it can be regained, rebuilt and what will emerge will be in a far truer and stronger form than before.

I lost my love. Love and loss hit me like a truck, left me for dead. As it rebuilt it became something that I can give with all my heart with no constraints. Also, to receive and feel love more authentically, more openly then pre-loss because I have a greater understanding of the depths love can actually span.

I wasn’t good enough to keep her. Oh wow, this inner monologue did the most damage. I never felt so hollow. My inner voice whispered to me on the nights I’d lay awake. Then in the depth of self-destruction, that same voice became a dialogue that made me speak more honesty and I understood that what we say to ourselves becomes who we are. I may have been unable to have her with me alive, but she was my daughter and that made me her mother and that was something to be proud of. I changed the script.

I cannot explain the way it affected all areas of life. I lost friends, connections, loved ones, and my own sense of self in the world. I lost the mother I could be to her, I lost watching her grow and follow her own path in life, watching her live and experience the joys, the sadness, the triumphs.

But I gained the experience of being her mother, my eyes were opened to how much more I could be, how much more I could give and how much more authentic I could be to myself and those who loved me. It’s an experience I would not want for anyone, but if you are going through it – you are seen, your emotions are valid and normal and you are loved.

Live the loss, live the love and see the path ahead as a place that is open to you with deeper connections and meaning. A path you can shape with your words and actions. Make it beautiful. Make them proud of their mother. Their life is a gift.

 

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Further links:

Click on the link to go to our full ABC article:  ABC Interview for ‘Say their Name’

Click here to find me on Mamamia:

After stillbirth i had to learn to love the body that i felt had let me down

How do I cope with Mother’s Day: Advise from a Bereaved Mum to all

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