I know I am not the only mother that lost a baby either in pregnancy or after the baby was born to have this deep dark secret. At least for me it is something I have buried deep into the abyss of my soul. Life with a healthy baby was all I ever dreamed of and when I lost Grace my thoughts went from
“God thinks I am not fit to be a mother.”
“My family is in pain because I failed to bring a healthy baby into this world.”
“I am not worthy of being a mother, and the universe knows this and saved this baby from me.”
The shame, guilt and self deprecation I put myself was endless. It can still rear it’s ugly face from time to time. But this is not my deep dark secret. This is the shame of the loss. In December 2008, my husband and I went in for a post partum appointment and Dr. Petlin told us we could start trying for a baby in 6 months. There was this glimmer of hope. As soon as we got the green light, I was again pregnant and following all the recommendations, 4mg of Folic acid, ultrasounds every 2 weeks, and just keep pressing on. Pregnancy with my second daughter was filled with a constant worry that something would go wrong. Prior to Grace’s death I knew about miscarriages but was naïve to the million other things that could go wrong. Pregnancy with Anastazia I was completely aware of the fragility of life and the real miracle it is to have a healthy baby.
February 23, 2010, Anastazia Mae entered the world at 9lbs 15.9oz to the song by Queen “Fat Bottom Girls” and Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back.” We still find it amusing given Annie’s size at birth and she loves it when she hears those songs. She had some jaundice and lost some weight in the early weeks but other than that she was a beautiful, glorious, healthy baby girl. Shortly after coming home with her Keith returned to work and he worked nights. The nights at home were not good. They in fact were some of the darkest times with my healthy baby girl. She was nursing every 10 to 15 minutes and it would go on for hours. All I wanted was some sleep and my baby just needed her mom. I was tired and overwhelmed. I cried through the night along with my little girl. I yelled out at night and got angry with this baby that did not know any better. I. Just. Wanted. To Sleep. I felt so alone. But I could not tell anyone the struggles I was having. How dare I a mother that lost her first daughter complain at all. This is everything I wanted in life and I can’t let people know the darkness I had in my heart. Sure I would joke about this ginormous baby and how I gave birth to a toddler. Inside though I was full of shame and completely lost.
There it is my secret. The dark early days and months of life with my baby. Annie is almost 12 and I don’t really think I have ever described what I felt that first year with her. The shame I have carried with me for not having the understanding and patience for this innocent baby. The shame for even struggling and not being grateful for those early months. HOW DARE I!! I know what it is to not have a baby in my arms leaving the hospital after giving birth. I HAVE NO RIGHT TO FEEL ANYTHING OTHER THAN LOVE AND GRATITUDE! For I have heard those words, “your baby will not live.”
So I sit here and I share this with you now. Almost 13 years after the death of Grace and almost 12 years since having my Annie. Like a tree this is another ring in my life and it too has shaped my journey. I have revealed the secret and the shame attached to it knowing that I must share this in order to take the power back it has had over me these last 12 years. This deep dark secret has held me in place and fed the core wound of worthlessness that I am so desperate to destroy. As Brene Brown says, from my head, to my heart and to my hands.
Now, I know that just because Grace died and then having a healthy baby did not eliminate the fact that having a baby is REALLY HARD and I as much as anybody can be susceptible to post partum depression, anxiety and everything else that comes with it. I want every mother to know that you don’t have to carry this shame with you for years as I have done. You can share your struggles with life with a healthy baby. It is important and being open with someone that is safe and empathetic to your situation. I have soooo much more work to do around this and to heal this part of me and heal this relationship with my almost 12 year old daughter. She is this beautiful, bright young girl that deserves more. I have to say I hugged her a little more deeply in the hours since this awareness took shape. I can’t go back to those days alone with her and believe me I cried myself to sleep last night wanting to go back and give her the patient loving mother she needed during the early nights. I will likely cry a whole lot more now that I am completely taking the power away from my shame.
I welcome those tears and I welcome the work I need to do in this part of my grief journey. Annie is worthy of all the love and deserving of everything I can give her. She deserves a mother can be open and honest and willing to embrace all the dark parts of herself as much as the light parts. If I show her and Julia what it means to accept all of ourselves, they can learn to love and accept all of themselves. That is not to say that when or if they have a baby they won’t have struggles but they will know that they can be open about those struggles. Heck, they will know that no matter what the struggles are, be it post partum or just with something life has thrown them. They WILL know that it does not need to be a deep dark secret. I want you all to know that it is not only okay to share your struggles in post partum with a healthy baby even after having a loss or many losses, it is imperative to share these struggles.
Do you have a similar story? Do you struggle with the idea that after you have a baby die or multiple miscarriages that you “should” not complain or tell anyone that you are having a hard time in a pregnancy after loss or post partum? I would love to hear from you. Reach out to Healing Grace either via email at email@example.com or 518-254-5505.
It is amazing this journey, even the deep ugly cleansing cries.