It has been three months now since my sweet Olivia has entered this world without taking her first breath.
In that time, I have learned that being the father of a stillborn daughter breaks you, and shrouds an invisibility cloak around you so that nobody sees your pain.
Since we left the hospital with Olivia’s memory box, carefully packed and compiled by our nurses rather than with our bundle of joy – I have existed on a different plane than everyone else who has not suffered this most terrible of losses.
I am broken, just trying to get through each day.
Some days fly by, and I do not even remember what occurred, looking back at e-mails and text messages to assure myself that I even got out of bed.
Other days feel like they last lifetimes, and it takes forever to have the wheels stop turning in my head to have finally begun a night of fitful sleep.
I am broken at home.
I am broken when I go to work each day.
I sit at my desk, pound on the keyboard, and put as much effort into my work as I can muster.
While others are complaining about being groggy after a big lunch or wishing they had a second cup of coffee, my eyes turn towards the black and white photo sitting on my desk of Olivia. The last picture ever taken of her and me from the hospital room, and I hit an emotional wall.
A wall that I cannot overcome, that I cannot break through and feel stronger on the other side, a debilitating impenetrable wall.
With a loss like this, sometimes you are simply too broken to continue in the day, it’s “that two thirty feeling” on steroids, it stops you dead in your tracks, and all you do is sit and think of what could have been.
You know that when you drive home that your beautiful baby girl is not there waiting for you, and that breaks me more than anything else.
I am broken at work.
I am broken when I talk to friends, family, and log on to social media.
I listen to or see different people live their lives, and celebrate their accomplishments.
I find out about a friend that is expecting their first child, boy does that sting or see someone celebrate a new job or win some prize.
I am oh so jealous of these people; they get to live their lives blissfully ignorant of the horrors of losing the most important thing in their world. They all look so happy, so full of hope; it makes me unreasonably jealous.
They get to celebrate and move on with life.
While I am broken, stuck in this horrible purgatory that life has become, I can see that time is moving on, but I am stuck in the mud, I cannot move my legs, I cannot keep up with anyone else.
I am here, mourning my daughter while the world passes me by.
I am broken.
Not only am I broken, but I am invisible.
As the father of a stillborn daughter, I am the most invisible of all parents.
While I cannot ever understand what my amazing wife went through in carrying Olivia for nine months, and the horrible trauma of delivery, it feels that as a father that never held his baby while she was alive – I am not valid as a parent, less real of a dad.
Unless someone knew that we were expecting, you would have no idea that I am a father, you wouldn’t know about the loss that I suffered.
All you see is a man in his early thirties wearing a wedding ring. The easy assumption is that it is just me, my wonderful wife, and my dog.
If I had a kid, I would assuredly mention her, right? She would be my pride and joy; of course, I would talk about her!
But, I am invisible.
I have been asked, “Are you married?” – Yes, happily for four years, I’ll reply.
The next question, “Have you thought about kids?” or “Do you have any kids?” I can’t look these people in the eye when I say “I have one, my angel daughter, who would be three months old.”
This turns to uncomfortable moments and the person saying they are sorry and then ending the conversation and walking away.
I am invisible in group settings.
When people gather, they talk about their work, their hobbies, and what is going on with the kids. I hear about daycare issues, and what pre-school so and so is going to, or how quickly such and such are growing up.
I desperately want to share about my daughter, about how she loved pizza in her mother’s womb and hated mushrooms. I want to share that she had her mother’s nose and was tall and skinny like me.
But I can’t, I know that talking about my dead baby will only ruin everyone else’s good time.
So, I stand in the group silently, invisibly, and nod along. All the while, I break inside.
I am invisible; I am broken.
The loss of my sweet daughter has made me the most difficult type of father to be.
One that must continue to survive each day in a horribly broken manner, and one who is not visible to everyone else as a father.
But, I continue to move on each day, because I know that is what Olivia would want me to do.
And I love her and owe it to her to keep moving on through the brokenness and invisibility.