So it’s been three years now. Three years since we excitedly decided to make a baby and bring them home. Three years of infertility with a ‘not compatible with life’ pregnancy and the birth and death of my son, sandwiched in the middle. So much has changed in that time.

This feels…monumental, significant, a milestone. THREE YEARS. That’s 21 months of hope, excitement, doubt, despair, wash and repeat. Eight months of, “Let’s just not think about it!”. Five months of a very difficult pregnancy. Two months literally swallowed by raw grief and loss. And now it’s been three years. Just like that. Who said I was counting.

I am not the woman I was when this began, and I can’t even remember what she looked like. Every physical cell in my body, every thought or feeling that passes my mind, even down to the way that I take a breath, is different. So much of that time is laden in heartache and emotion that it is difficult to recall, hard to articulate. Like someone took my timeline and just smudged that section. Put their thumb on 2014 and just smeared it right up into 2017. And now here I am, a little dazed, and very tired, and struggling to grapple the reality of where I stand today and where I was three years ago.

We focus so much on how different we are after the loss of a baby. How shattered and unfamiliar it feels to be in our own body. How scary and unrelenting our own mind can become. But we talk about it as if we wouldn’t have changed if things had been different. As if we expect to have been exactly the same person if the baby didn’t die, if fertility had been easy, if the egg had just stuck. But that’s not true. Just like every other living creature, we’re like one of those little time-lapse videos of the life cycle of a butterfly. Constantly moving and growing. The experience of a significant life event is like closing our eyes for a few seconds, and opening them to find that we’ve skipped forward, and we’re not entirely sure what is going on. Change is inevitable, but sometimes it feels faster than usual thanks to the photography.

When you’re waist deep in grief or all out of hope, you stop taking photos of the world around you. You stop documenting the tiny changes that are a beautiful part of life, and you start to only look inwards. You document your pain, your struggle, and when you eventually look up and spot your reflection, the face staring back can be a shock. We then panic about change, and desperately want to go back to how we were before.

Three years is a long time. And I am weary from it. But that’s okay. The extra wrinkles and grey hairs, the heaviness I sometimes carry, the vagueness I have in remembering some of that time, are all a testament to what I have been through. What I have survived. And if nothing else, these three years have taught me so much about myself, they have fostered resilience, they have widened my perspective and empathy, and connected me to so many incredible women who would not be in my life if it wasn’t for this journey. As I sit here today I am hopeful. Hopeful that the next three years will have photographs of beautiful scenery and smiling faces, of love and laughter, strength and happiness.

Three years is a long time. As I sit here today, I can only begin to imagine what incredible things may be to come over the next 1,095 days. So much adventure, so much change, so much life to embrace.