Pictures of Before

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September 2011 by J. Morey

Today I ran across this photo.  It was taken by my husband in late September 2011.  That’s me on the right, showing off the baby clothes I’d bought for the baby that we’d just found out was a girl.  I had officially crossed the halfway point of the pregnancy, and was so excited to meet our daughter.  I had no idea that in less than two months I’d be holding her, dead, in my arms, and then saying goodbye.

From the very beginning of this new life in which loss and grief are major players, I’ve had difficulty with such photographs.  I love taking pictures, especially self-portraits, and I take them almost constantly.  So when our daughter died abruptly and without known cause, it hurt to return from the hospital without our daughter and see the photographs from Before.  I felt like they had betrayed me.  Shouldn’t I have known that something so horrible was about to happen?  Shouldn’t there have been a warning hidden within those photographs?

I combed through them, looking for some sort of sign of the horror that had come upon us so suddenly.  I had taken pictures up until the day she died . . . but of course there were no warning signs in them when I searched them from my new life in After.

I think that one of the worst parts of babyloss is that there is no way to predict it.  It is sudden and traumatic, and it shows us just how little control we have in this world — and that is terrifying.  The photographs from Before, they highlight this devastating truth for me.  When I look at these pictures now, it causes me pain to remember the naivete, the way that I never thought to question whether or not we’d have a happy ending to our first pregnancy.

That innocence is gone, and these photographs make me queasy with the hard-won knowledge that disaster strikes, and it can strike suddenly and unpredictably, and that it struck us, of all the people in the world.

I am left wondering — who is that young woman in the photograph, happily sorting the clothes she didn’t know her baby would never wear?  Where has she gone, and who is the woman I’m becoming?  Deep lines that weren’t there a year ago crease my face, and when I meet my eyes in the mirror they are too often filled with sadness and fatigue.  I don’t much like taking my own picture anymore.

How do you feel about pictures from Before?  Are they a comfort, or does it hurt to see them?


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Beth About Beth

Beth Morey is the mixed media artist behind Epiphany Art Studio . Her soulful and whimsical creations are born out of the griefs, joys, and not-knowings of life. She is also the founder of Made , an online course exploring the intersection of faith and art, and the author of the creative healing workbook, Life After Eating Disorder. Beth loves meeting new friends through her blog , where she writes about faith, creativity, and life after stillbirth. She lives in Montana with the Best Husband Ever, their rainbow son, and their three naughty dogs. You can find Beth at Epiphany Art Studio — www.epiphanyartstudio.etsy.com or at her blog, www.bethmorey.com. You can also see her work at
Life After Eating Disorder -- http://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Eating-Disorder-Have/dp/1478105453/

Comments

  1. Mandy Hansen says:

    I have 2 photos from a few days after, and you can see it in me. I don’t have any photos from when I was pregnant with that pregnancy, just those 2 after photos, but I have the same emotions you describe when looking at them.

  2. I look at the photos from before I my son died, and I see a completely different person. I took look for something, a sign, a hint in my posture or a glint in my eyes that I knew something was wrong, but there is nothing. The person I see in those pictures seems to be so naive, I don’t relate to her much any more.

  3. I look at photos from before Bailey and just think that person is gone. I guess that is ok though because I believe I have become closer to the person I am meant to be. I have very few pictures of when I was pregnant. They tend to make me sad as I ‘date’ the picture and do the math of when I would say goodbye. For a long time, pictures after were like looking at a different person that kinda looked like me but didn’t, and always with a kind of fake smile. Now though, I think I am genuine in pictures. I have been changed and the pictures show that, and I think that is ok too.

  4. Alyssa Carter says:

    I have a picture taken the day I went into labor; little did I know, I would not be bringing home my sweet girl. I, too, look at that picture and see the innocent, naive me and wonder where she went…..

  5. Looking at my “before” pictures hurt. Before, I believed creating and carrying life was the happiest and most beautiful thing on earth. Now, I am just bitter, not that I never had healthy and happy endings (I had 5) but my grief is so overwhelming. Oh, I had signs though, something was telling me something was off but would toss those fears in a tiny corner and try to forget and convince myself I was wrong. Now, I force myself to attend babyshowers I am invited to, I force myself to smile and show joy when I am presented a newborn, hoping to reconnect with my old self but I think she is forever gone just like my innocence…

  6. I Like you, took many many before photos. very hard to look at now.
    I had ordered my maturity photos just before we found out our daughter had died in utero. they came along with the many packages I had ordered and clothes the day we came home from hospital without her.

    Hugs

  7. I took a few pictures of my son the night before he died. No idea, none. They are so hard to look at, and when I do I search for signs of what was to happen. But there aren’t any. No clue

  8. I don’t know if it happens to anybody else but when I look my self in the mirror every morning I only can see empty eyes, like if I lost a sparkle or something, I feel deeply sorry of the person I look at the mirror…

  9. I only have a few pictures of myself when I was pregnant, my husband and I were on cloud 9. They are precious to me, yet I can’t look at them lately. I get a sad, bitter feeling and spiral into sadness thinking about how excited we were. My husband came across one recently of me sitting on our hammock, belly protruding, glowing and smiling, he burst into tears at work when he saw it. We still cherish these photos because they remind us of our first born baby, but they also remind us of the terrible, traumatic experience we had this year and it hurts to know that next time we won’t have that same excited happiness. Just nervousness and thoughts that it may not all be okay :(

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