Neonatal or infant loss is a phenomena that spans race, religion and socio-economic status. According to the March of Dimes, infant death can be caused by birth defects, premature birth, and a number of other health conditions, with 50% of them occurring at or near full term.
Does it get better?
Today I was asked, does it get better after loss of your baby? Does it? It’s a question I often struggle to answer, and it’s a difficult one for anyone who has experienced it to answer.
My story, I am learning, is way too familiar. I lost my first child in the delivery room at 37 weeks on July 27th, 2003. I remember each of the details of the day. I remember what I was told when I woke up from anesthesia. I remember what nurses told me as they entered my post-birth delivery room. I remember my screams from pain and not knowing how I was going to survive. Every detail, every moment, and it’s more than 12 years later.
How do I survive this loss? I am not sure how I got to where I am today, but I am sure you never forget. You go through the motions of living, just trying to survive day in and day out. You will have moments where you recall the pain and break down, and then you remind yourself you are blessed in other ways. It’s not easy, even after all of these years and so many good and promising memories have come since.
If I learned one thing, it is don’t go down the path of regrets. I wish I had been given the chance to hold my child before they took her away. I wish I wasn’t put to sleep for my emergency C-section. I wish I had asked for a baby monitor during delivery. I wish… I wish… I wish… I’ve learned that going down this path is a dark one, one it’s hard to get out of. So I try to look at my surroundings, what I have become, my children that now jump on me with joy, and think today is going to be okay. I will get through this.
I am writing this to share the struggle to survive is not an easy one, but you will be okay. You will make it to the next day, as hard and inconceivable as it may seem in many moments.
You will be asked, “how many children do you have”, and will struggle with what is the right answer? You may even begin by counting your angel and sharing your story, and may later keep that memory and those moments in your heart for you alone. You will hear women talk about their delivery and how amazing it was, and wonder “why me?” You will read articles that debate whether breastfeeding is better than bottle, and think “I just wanted my baby!” You will go through many thoughts and wonder “am I alone?” and “does everyone not know the pain I am in?” I am writing this to tell you, you are not alone.
I have been spending my last 12 plus years just moving forward, breaking down when memories are triggered, or when I need to use my baby’s name on another child. I have not been outspoken and shared my story before, as I do not want to hurt my family around me, make them go through the pain of remembering, or my children becoming aware of this loss that was before they were even born. Today though, when I was asked by a Mom, “does it get better?”, I opened my heart and shared my story. It made me want to share it further to let other moms know you are not alone.
Now I try to make a difference by investing my time and experience in the hopes of bringing more awareness to fetal syndromes and in the hopes of supporting any mom, anywhere that experiences loss. I hope to make a difference so that no mom goes through the experience of losing their baby at birth.
In trying to answer “does it get better?”, it does…hour by hour, day by day. There is hope for a brighter tomorrow, even if it feels like there is none. With so many families affected each year, you are nowhere near being alone in this unfortunate and tragic struggle.