“I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.” –Matt Kearney, “Closer to Love”
It feels strange to know that you’re about to have the worst day of your life to date. That’s one of the thoughts I remember having after hearing the words: “There’s no movement and there’s no heartbeat.” And it’s disorienting to see the world flip-flop and dump out the contents of the future that’s living inside your head and heart.
My first perinatal loss was over twelve years ago. “Perinatal loss” is the best label I currently have for a category of pain that includes miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of a baby due to prenatal diagnosis of a medical condition, newborn death and other reproductive loss. I was at 22 weeks gestation and the loss was discovered during a routine exam. That evening I was sent to the hospital to have labor induced. After I delivered my daughter the next day, I had time to hold her and look at her. The cause of death was later found to be a blood clot in the umbilical cord. Something that doesn’t happen often, but happens.
My second loss was six months later, at eight weeks gestation- a miscarriage that required some extra time and a number of medical appointments to work through physically. They were similar and different experiences. They were devastating, surreal — and ultimately, to my surprise, bearable.
The life events pertaining to my losses have taken me to some challenging and unanticipated places as a woman, mom and psychotherapist. My experience has carved out places within me that resonate when I hear the stories of those who have lost someone so small — and yet something so big — that it brought them to their knees. It has also made me passionate about giving voice to these experiences that are all too often invisible or minimized by society.
This blog is an extension of my life experience and clinical work with perinatal bereavement. It includes thoughts from both the couch and therapist’s chair about to what it’s like to live the hours, days, weeks, months and years after losing their baby. It is for those who see the delineation in their lives between the time when they were expecting and the time they had to start living in a very unexpected new reality. It’s for those who need to know they are not alone, those that need to know there is hope for feeling better and those who want to continue to understand how baby loss fits into the story of their lives.
What can you expect from future posts? Brief articles and notes on living and growing after the loss of a baby, including the aspects that can help us heal and do more than survive. This will range from big-picture ideas to specific and practical matters, including the variety of thoughts, feelings, relationship issues, existential crises, weird twists and turns, beauty and flashes of grace that happen to those who lose and keep living.