I am a broken woman damaged by the all-consuming grief and heartbreak that comes from losing a child. A child I prayed for. Dreamed of. Planned for and worked so hard to create. A child I felt had found her way to us, ripped away after only loving her for 17 weeks.
I can’t remember the happy moments of reading the positive pregnancy test, or finding out her sex, or shopping for baby girl clothes. I can’t remember the debates on her name or the excited conversations with her big brother. I can’t remember the joy we felt for three months.
Instead, I’m stuck with the memories of our daughter arriving earth-side in our bathroom. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. Her brother’s nose and her dad’s long face. Her first and final moments were spent with us crying over her body as her tiny heart stopped beating. I remember the vivid details of that night more than I can remember every happy moment before and after then. The embarrassment of not being able to wear pants in front of the firemen because my placenta didn’t deliver with her. The disbelief that our daughter was gone.
The anger at God for giving us the baby we prayed so hard for just to rip her from our arms.
I had no idea what to expect with my own grief. I took five weeks off work trying to get myself back. Trying to find the woman I was before I lost Kennedy, but no matter how hard I tried or how many hours I spent in therapy each week, that person was no longer around. It took me so long to understand and accept that it was OK to not be the same person I was before grief.
I no longer had the patience to deal with things that weren’t serving me. I no longer felt the need to kill myself for a job that was no longer fulfilling me. I took time to focus on what it was I wanted from life and gave myself permission to start completely fresh. I took note of the things I loved doing and made immediate changes in my life. I stopped doing anything that didn’t bring me joy and focused on the things that did.
Some of the most common feedback I got after losing Kennedy at 17-weeks pregnant was, it happens all the time, miscarriages aren’t uncommon, or you can just try again. I often felt I wasn’t allowed to grieve the loss of my daughter because people didn’t seem to understand why I was so broken. Why did I have to take so much time off work? Why did I have to take so much time for me? Why did it alter my life in insurmountable ways? I was constantly battling between am I being too dramatic? and this is hard—I’m hurting.
Grief hits everyone differently.
You may have been able to return to work immediately after a loss in your life, and that’s fine, but not everyone has that experience with grief. Sometimes it takes effort to pull yourself out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it takes effort to make sure you are fed and bathed. Sometimes grief looks like cleaning the house and catching up on honey-do lists. Sometimes grief looks like spending time with friends and family. It honestly doesn’t matter how it looks on the outside, and that’s something it’s taken me a while to learn myself.
My grief is mine. It’s no one else’s and the judgment or questioning glances are not my concern. If others cannot understand my grief, that’s on their character, not mine.
My daughter took me on a journey toward chasing dreams I didn’t know I had and while I wish she was by my side along the way, I’ll keep living for her.