I wore my favourite black dress with a jacket over it, even though it was unbelievably hot for the end of September. The dress was pretty much held together by safety pins, so I really had no choice. I had bought it as a treat to myself just a few months before, in the height of summer, when I thought this little black dress would make a versatile outfit for any occasion.
Which is just what a little black dress should be! You can wear a little black dress with a jacket and pumps and look ready for a job interview. You can wear it with a killer pair of stilettos and your best jewelry and look ready for the red carpet. The little black dress is celebrated in fashion because it is classic and timeless yet also modern and sophisticated. On this hot day, I was accessorizing it with safety pins.
Because damnit, what else was I going to wear to my sons’ funeral? My body was an absolute mess, with an extra 55 pounds (okay, 12 of those were my babies, so 43 pounds). My breasts were engorged and felt disgusting. I had wiggly bits where I had never had them before. My skin was stretched and sagging and made me feel grotesque. At the time, I hated myself and hated my body. I blamed it for failing my sons. I let them down. I killed them. For the past couple weeks of my pregnancy, I only had a couple outfits that still fit. This wasn’t one of them, which was why I needed the safety pins.
Related: Body Image After Loss
In the keepsake box I have for my sons, I have two items of my own clothing. One is a t-shirt that reads “My pod has two peas”. Another is this dress. I brought it out only one other time. When I was pregnant with my rainbow daughter, a colleague died very suddenly and I put it on again for her funeral.
My sons died in September. For the first time, I have a work commitment I just can’t get out of on their birthday. It is making me anxious. Every year, I am drawn back into grief at this time. While I probably appear to the outside world as being normal, it isn’t quite true. Just look underneath my protective outer layer. The truth is, like that little black dress, I’m held together by safety pins.
Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. She is also the author of Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss, which won second place in the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Awards (Consumer Health).