Tomorrow, on April 22nd, it will be three months since I delivered my precious Jonah into this world, asleep. Although the rawness of that day recedes, it doesn’t become any less traumatic, difficult, grief-stricken, and amazing. Yes, amazing. I am amazed at my body’s capability to push out a small human. I am amazed at the kindnesses I experienced in the hospital. I am amazed at my ability just to survive the world-crashing-down sort of grief over the loss of my son. I am amazed at life, and at death.
For three months, I have navigated the confusing, painful, and oftentimes surprising life of an invisible mother. This is what I’ve learned.
It’s Okay (and Necessary) to be Selfish
There are some days (or hours, or even minutes) where I just…can’t. The dishes remain dirty, plans with friends fall through, books sit unread, the page in my open journal stays empty. I. Just. Can’t. And you know what? That’s completely okay. If I forced myself to do things in those moments when I just need to cry or laugh or watch “The Great British Baking Show” or stare into space, life would be…well, worse. I absolutely have to do things for myself. Those moments, whether beautiful or tragic or both, are the ones in which the most healing happens.
A couple times, though, I’ve wondered, “Am I just using Jonah’s stillbirth as an excuse to say, eat, and do whatever I want?” Then I remember that, geez, my baby died. That’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen to someone. So come on, self, you deserve to be selfish sometimes.
Be what you need to be. Do what you need to do.
Relationships Change Quickly
The people that have stuck by me both in my pregnancy and for these three months are my people. Anyone unwilling to talk about Jonah with me is no longer really in my circle. What is friendship if you can’t talk about what’s important? I also have compassionate friends or acquaintances who’ve moved into my circle, because they are wonderful and amazing and want to hear about Jonah.
My relationships have all changed – some in ways I didn’t expect. My entire world is rocked, and I’ve found those who will hold me up while the Earth crumbles under my feet.
Loss Moms Stick Together
I’ve never been a part of a more compassionate, supportive, and empathetic community. Being a part of the loss mom community sucks because of how we all got in it, but it’s an extremely beautiful place to be. Our worlds are colored by our losses, and we’re able to understand and accept each other in ways that non-loss parents can’t. It’s an exclusive club with the worst imaginable entry fee.
I’ve found an incredible amount of support from other loss moms, and I feel an extreme amount of hurt for each new member of the group. It’s as if their losses are mine, and vice versa. We experience pain and joy differently than the rest of the world, and expressing that together is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been a part of.
I Can Hate and Love My Body at the Same Time
These two feelings for my body exist simultaneously. Yes, it is confusing. I hate it for letting my antibodies through the placenta, and even for having the antibodies in the first place. Yet, I love it because it’s a strong mom bod that carried my sick son far longer than anyone thought it would. It is where Jonah grew and was alive. My stretch marks and jiggle are both beautiful marks of motherhood, yet I feel self-conscious about them and often wish I didn’t have the hanging jiggle, and try to hide it.
It’s an ongoing battle, but I’ve finally figured out that they just both exist at the same time.
Grieving is a Full Time Job
You know this quote from Alice in Wonderland?
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”
Well, sometimes I’ve thought of as many as six grief-bearing thoughts before breakfast. I don’t wish to put a negative spin on such a wonderful quote, but that’s what I thought of when writing about the full-time job of grief. It does not often let me make it far without letting me know that it’s sitting there just beneath the surface, all day every day. Especially in the first two months, it was hard to do anything but grieve. It’s still difficult now, although I’m able to put a couple more things into my days.
Grieving makes me tired, quiet, and sad. It’s both physically and mentally challenging when the weight of grief sits atop my chest and mind. Things like work, reading, shopping, and baking can make it to that number one spot in my conscious, but grief is always right below it, waiting to pop back up to the top.
Of course, that’s not all bad – sometimes, grief manifests as straight up love, instead of sadness. This didn’t start happening until fairly recently, but there are times when I think of Jonah and feel only intense love, instead of intense sadness. It’s beautiful <3