An open letter to the newly bereaved mother
I saw you crying today, wrapped in your partners arms. You just lost your baby. My heart broke for you, and I haven't stopped thinking about you since. I don't know if this is your first pregnancy, or your fifth. I don't know if you already have a child at home, or if you've lost babies before. I don't know if you've been trying for years, or if you got pregnant on the first try. I don't know anything about you.
But what I do know, is how you're feeling, and how your life is going to change. I know what it feels like to fall apart in your partner's arms. I know what it feels like to cry in ultrasound rooms and doctors offices, unable to breath. I know you probably felt like the room was spinning. Your whole world had just been shattered. All the hopes and dreams you had are suddenly gone. There will be no baby shower. No more due date. No more baby shopping or nursery set up. No birth announcement.
You will bleed. Your hair might fall out. Your milk might come in. If you're like me, it won't all happen at once, but one after the other. I would say they're each a painful reminder of what you've lost, but to be honest, you never forget.
If you put a pregnancy announcement on social media, you'll probably now put up a 'loss announcement'. You'll probably keep the door to your would-be-nursery shut. You'll pack away all the maternity clothes and things you bought for the baby. If you've done a lot online shopping, chances are there are some cute baby things still to arrive in the mail. This will break your heart all over again.
If you told your family and friends you were expecting, you'll now have to break the news to them. Personally, we opted for text messages and emails. It's easier on you, and allows them time to formulate what they deem an appropriate response. They'll write heartfelt messages of sympathy, but it won't help. The only thing that could possibly make you feel better is a call from your doctor saying "Sorry, it's all been a big mistake. Your baby is fine". Instead, you'll probably receive at least one of the following:
Everything happens for a reason.
At least it was early.
There was probably something wrong, lucky the baby wasn't born like that.
At least you already have a child.
It will make your relationship stronger.
At least you know you can get pregnant.
They mean well, but they don't understand that there is no "at least". They don't understand that this was your baby. That you don't want just another baby, you wanted THIS baby. You won't understand why it had to be your baby. People will want to take your pain away, but they won't be able to. They'll ask you how you are. You'll say you're fine. You won't be. You'll probably just want to be alone most of the time. That's ok.
It's also ok to unfollow people on social media who are pregnant or who've just had babies. It's ok to turn down invitations to baby showers or other social events. It's ok to cry. It's ok to hurt. It's ok to long for your baby that died. It's ok to miss them, even if you never met. It's ok to put up photos, to have jewellery made, to purchase items to remember them by. It's also ok to do nothing. Everyone grieves differently.
It seems impossible right now, but one day you will smile again. One day you'll breath a little easier. One day you'll finally be able to fall asleep without any tears. One day you'll go out again and face the world.
But for now, if all you do today is breath, that is enough.
Another bereaved mother
(originally published Sept 12, 2017)