I am the woman no one wants to be. I am a mother with no child to hold.
I am the woman with a body that carried to full term a perfect baby that died unexpectedly. It’s me; I’ve survived a year trapped within a living nightmare, serving a life sentence without my daughter.
I’m the grim reminder that the Reaper steals life away without bias. I am the worst-case scenario.
Others think of me and exhale a soothing sigh of relief; it all worked out for them. They took their child home, alive and kicking. I could not. Lucky for them, unlucky for me.
I am the lesson learned: be grateful, it could be worse. She’s living every parent’s worst nightmare. Count your blessings, be glad it wasn’t you.
I’m the woman who awakens in the night, disoriented for a moment in the darkness, desperate with hope that it’s all just a dream, only some distant otherworldly hallucination. But no, it is reality after all. Welcome back to the nightmare you can never flee. You’ve arrived in the hell of infant loss, the place where the tale ends with happily never after. Welcome to my reality.
I’m the driver, pulling off to the side of a desolate country road, hands gripping the steering wheel, letting the anguish, anger and sadness reverberate from my burning throat in a primal scream that no one else can hear. It resides within me like a caged animal with astonishing constancy and must be released. A primeval cry that rivals those recorded in the best of the horror films. It’s the deafening sound of the deepest grief, and it is terrifying.
I’m that lady in the grocery store parking lot, vision blurred with tears, unsuccessfully trying to hold it all in until reaching the car. That mama called her baby Lucy. That was my daughter’s name too.
Outside wistfully looking in, that’s me. Futilely stuffing the boiling rage down, grappling with the inevitable jealousy, trying in vain to maintain my composure in the face of unrealized ‘should haves’. The lies have become automatic: “I’m okay, really, I’m fine”. I’ve never been so well-versed in such dishonesty as I am now, after living through a year of loss.
I am a mild nuisance, the one with the despairing mother-heart, crying out to others to remember the baby gone too soon, to acknowledge her, to keep her memory alive. That is all that this mommy can do to parent her child now.
I’m trapped in an unfair existence, prisoner in a world that goes against the course of nature, where babies die and sorrow rules all. I’ve been robbed of a lifetime of joy, aching for the child I’ll never behold again. This is the substance of nightmares.
I’ve been swallowed by darkness, choking on relentless waves in an ocean of grief. I catch glimpses of the shore occasionally, but the waters always churn again and toss me back out to sea.
I am the girl they say is so strong. When it’s the only choice I’ve had, is it truly strength? I feel as if I am anything but an embodiment of the strength they speak of, yet my resiliency is undeniable. I have survived.
I’m the mother who is sifting through what remains, searching for light and hope in the bleakness of a loss so large. Even after a year, the sadness persists with a volume that cannot be ignored. It seems that nobody is built to shoulder such a burden for too long, yet, I am living proof that it can be done.
I’m a warrior with the scars to prove that the phoenix may in fact rise from the ashes to find joy again.
I am here, living to tell the story of a love so deep that it transcends all space and time.
I am Lucy’s mother, and I will make her proud.
Jessica Orlaske is the mother of beautiful little Lucy Rose, whom she was only able to spend a precious day with after suffering a placental abruption. Though the loss of Lucy has transformed her life into one of heartache and challenges, Jessica continues to search for Lucy’s light in all things and find ways to honor her sweet daughter with love and kindness. She has found healing through writing and sharing her story with others.