Guest post by Amy
Before our son John was stillborn in November 2012, I knew other women who lost babies. I was always sad for them. I never thought that would happen to me though. But it did. And I was devastated, depressed and heart broken. I was changed.
Other disappointments in my life seemed so difficult before then, but it really puts things into perspective when you experience something as heartbreaking as losing a baby. Those other moments that felt so trying at the time suddenly felt so trivial.
After our loss, I spent a number of months feeling numb and depressed. It was so hard to see Facebook posts of friends’ new babies. I didn’t want to talk about or be around babies and pregnant women. And when my sister-in-law shared she was pregnant with her fourth child, it felt like a devastating blow. I spent that weekend feeling bad for myself, and believing I was a complete failure who let my family down. But then I thought about how much I love my nieces and nephew.
I have always loved babies and children. So I made a decision, at that moment, to start healing. I wanted to be myself again. I wanted to be happy again. I wanted to be happy for others who are expecting again. I knew I would always miss my baby dearly. But I made the decision that I was going to try to be happy, even if I’m sad at the same time. It was time to be the person I was before… a changed version, but someone able to focus on the positive parts of my life.
Being happy, while still grieving, isn’t easy. I became much more reflective and spiritual. I would often search the internet for quotes and photos to help me think about my loss and grief. I would find songs I could relate to and play them over and over. I prayed much more often than I used to, and every day I still ask God to say hello to my baby and give him a big hug and kiss.
There was definitely a time I felt a lot of anger, especially towards God. I had to work through those feelings. Over time I came to realize that I have a very blessed life. I live somewhere I feel safe. I have a loving and supportive husband. I have a beautiful, wonderful four year old daughter. My number one goal, from the day we lost our son, became to make sure our daughter still has a normal childhood and a mom who she knows loves her. Looking back, I can honestly say this helped me more than anything. I am so grateful to have her in my life. We also have a cat, a dog, jobs we enjoy, good friends and family. I have parents who have given me so much love throughout my life and I’m so grateful they are still with us after battling their own health issues.
I started focusing on all the positive parts of my life, especially if I was feeling angry or sad. Early on I felt like I was lying to myself and others about how I was doing. I felt guilty posting about happy moments in my life on Facebook. Eventually, I actually did become happy again.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about John. When we do family photos, I think about how he should be there. When I helped my daughter pick out a Halloween costume, I thought about how fun it would have been to have them in coordinating costumes. When my daughter and I visit the baby room at her school (a tradition established prior to our loss), I think about how he should be in that room. When I look around our home, which still has a number of baby items we’ve saved in hopes of a second child, I think about how old he would have been. When I teach Sunday School, and lessons are about new babies and siblings, I look at my daughter and wonder if this is hard for her too. When someone asks me how many children I have, I still don’t know how best to answer this question. These daily reminders are so hard, but I am also grateful for reminders because I don’t want to forget John. He is part of me and part of my life.
I can honestly say that John has made me a better person, who truly appreciates the blessings in my life. My journey of grief will continue throughout my life. I never realized a person could experience two polar opposite feelings at the same time, but it is possible. I realize there are going to be disappointments and heartaches in life. I am better prepared to face those times. I am a stronger version of me, a sadder version of me, but also a version of me that is trying hard to focus on the good parts of my life so I can be happy.