How I Replied After Being Told I Was Strong
“You’re so strong. I don’t know how I would still be standing after all that loss.”
Most times, I don’t know how I am either, which makes this statement extremely hard to respond. Yet, the loss mom that I am has to advocate for my children that have gone too soon. So, I shared our story. I needed let her know what being strong meant to me.
It all started with one word, pregnant.
In that very moment I started on my journey of motherhood. Like all first time moms, I was overjoyed to be growing a little life inside of me. I had already planned everything out. Halfway through my pregnancy, I found out two life-changing facts about my baby.
One: He was a boy. His name was Jensen Grey.
Two: He had Down syndrome and would have to have extra monitoring the rest of the time.
In the weeks and months following that news, I was happy he was a boy and scared I wouldn’t be a good enough mother for him. Those insecurities ran deep, but were often calmed down by his kicks that grew stronger by the day or when I saw him dancing on the ultrasound screen.
I was proactive with making sure everything was perfect for his arrival. My baby shower was adorned in blue and orange, his colors. We were showered with gifts and didn’t need anything else to bring him home. That next week, we placed his carseat and set up his stroller. I counted down the days to my due date, never thinking I wouldn’t get there.
Thirty-eight weeks came, quicker than I imagined, and I was looking forward to this appointment. Then I heard those words and my life, my motherhood seemed to be over. I remember them telling me I had to give birth to my child who died. I was in shock.
When he was born, I couldn’t see him. I wasn’t strong enough to hold him and then give him back. It wasn’t fair. None of this was. I felt anything but strong leaving the hospital, during his funeral, and those weeks after.
His birthday came quick. We celebrated. Jensen would have loved his cake and having his family surround him. I thought I was in a ‘better place,’ which meant not feeling as horrible as I did.
Then I saw that word again. Pregnant.
I was happy. Jensen sent this baby to me and I was ready for pregnancy after loss. For ten weeks, his sibling was thriving, until the bleeding started.
My second child died.
Once again, I was thrown into a world I never knew existed before loss. I could barely keep breathing, let alone living the life I know they would want me to have.
Through all this pain, heartache, and loss I’ve not felt like a strong person. I share our story to let others know they’re not alone. To let people who have not had a child die know that it’s perfectly acceptable to grieve in anyway a person needs.
It all started with one word and it felt like it had ended with five. This isn’t the motherhood I wanted or ever dreamed of having. Yes, it’s the one I have, but loss doesn’t instantly make someone strong.
I am strong because I am a mother.
I am still standing because I have a little boy who is constantly watching me from beyond.
I am strong because I have held the weight of grief on my shoulders and can still see light.
I am still standing because I refuse to be knocked over.
I am ‘strong’ because I have to be.