I lost my twins five days ago.
I was 36 weeks pregnant. Adam was delivered stillborn, and Sophia lived for 27 minutes before drifting into heaven. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to hear the painful reminders of what you are still going through in postpartum after loss.
A chosen few will want to hear and will stay once you’ve shared.
But for me, it’s a cold and lonely walk.
I sat in the rocking chair that was supposed to be their rocking chair where I would have comforted them, lulled them to sleep, nursed them with nourishing milk. A tightening ache ran across my lower abdomen.
I closed my eyes and gripped the arms of the rocking chair.
I exhaled slowly until the pain passed. I looked down at my still swollen belly and laid my hands on it.
No one told my uterus that it was over as it contracted to return to its normal size.
My breasts, full with life-giving milk, tingled with the cue that it was time to nurse or pump. No one told my breasts, which were wrapped and bound to stop the flow of my incoming milk supply.
They ached with fullness, but there was no relief because there were no babies.
Blood and clots flowed from my body signaling that it was time to change my oversized pad-a heartless memory of what had happened.
I turned my head towards the cribs where my babies were supposed to be sleeping — the cribs with soft, cozy quilts and their stuffed bears.
Instead, my babies were born sleeping.
No one told my body that it can stop now.
THAT THE JOURNEY IS OVER.
That the anguish is just beginning.
But it won’t cease because my body is only doing what it’s supposed to do naturally in postpartum after loss. It serves as an ugly reminder of what could have been and all that is gone.
All of my discharge instructions lay in a heap on the nursery floor.
The picture on the front of the folder, a mother, gazing lovingly at her child, rips through my fragile heart.
Tears slide hopelessly down my cheeks.
I pick up the papers, which tell me how to care for my body and throw them across the room. They flutter silently to the ground, quiet and soundlessly like my babies.
No one told my body how it would physically ache the first time someone wished you congratulations on the birth of your baby. “You had the babies! Congratulations! I’ll stop by later to see you. Is your husband getting them out of the car?”
I stared blankly and had to say, “No, he’s not.” I could barely utter the words, like poison, out of my mouth.
“They were stillborn.”
Then comes the awkward, downward glance everyone has. No one knows what to say. How do you respond to a mother who has just lost everything – her whole world?
“I’m sorry, “ she says.
Two words which I will simultaneously come to appreciate and despise.
Then comes the obligatory, “Thank you,” and I move quickly inside before she can see my crumpled face.
But inside is worse than outside.
No one told my eyes how they would hurt as they looked at the gifts, wrapped gaily in pastel hearts and tiny rocking horses, strewn across the dining room table that arrived before it all came to a crashing halt.
There will always be a “before” and “after.”
My stomach cramps and twinges. I burst into tears because it reminds me of the pure joy I felt when they were moving inside of me. Of a time when they were alive, rolling and kicking.
THIS IS THE LAST BEAUTIFUL MEMORY I HAVE OF THEM.
Now the memories will be unspeakable.
No one told my mind that there would be nightmares that would wake me from my sleep, screaming into a silent night.
No, there will be no beauty left.
The physical body, the postpartum emotions, the body doing only what it knows to do, will recover and heal. The emotional wounds, the gaping black hole, will stay with me forever.
No one told my body that life would continue to blur past me, moving quickly and effortlessly. For me, time has come to a screeching halt.
It will move past me in an indescribable, slow dance.
No one told me that people wouldn’t remember that you’ve been shattered into little pieces. Some you will find. Some you will not.
I’ll sit with physical and emotional exhaustion, and people won’t understand why I’m not back to my usual self after a few short weeks-why I’ll never be my former self again.
Grief changes you.
No one told me how brutal it would be to drive to my postpartum visit and how I’ll sit in the parking lot because I dread walking into an office surrounded by happy pregnant women. They’ll make polite chit chat and smile.
“When are you due? I have three more weeks to go. I’m so ready to be done with being pregnant!”
I want to say, “You’ll be done with this, but I never will.”
Oh my God. The ache and yearning to be where you’re at. To lie down on the exam table and hear my babies heartbeat one more time.
I’d even welcome the pelvic exam because then it meant my body was doing purposeful work.
Now, my body’s only job is to heal from the hard work of pushing to deliver babies that never made a sound.
My meaningless exam would now consist of a check of a third-degree tear that required stitches and throbbed and ached all the time.
My doctor would now hand me pamphlets of therapists and a prescription for antidepressants.
I walked out of the office with the sad glances of the nurses I used to discuss my pregnancy with excitedly. I’ll return to a house that I now dread walking into because it holds the memories of a time filled with hope and excitement.
No one told my legs, shaking, as I stood in the middle of their room where there are no cries, no coos, no babbling sounds.
Oh, their ghostly cries will haunt me at night.
I’ll run to their room to comfort them and soothe them, but there will be a deafening silence in the blackened room. No teddy bear nightlight to illuminate the room.
And I’ll sit on the floor and hold my belly and sob.
No one told my body that it would hold onto these memories of what could have been beautiful.
Of what could have been hopeful.
Of what dreams could have been fulfilled.
At what hope was being offered.