In one second of twisted fate, my pregnancy ended.
At 39-weeks pregnant, my baby’s heart stopped silently in my womb. Her enthusiastic kicks faded to nothingness. My body had failed to keep her safe, and I lost the one thing I thought I was entitled to as a woman—a living, breathing child.
Nothing in this world prepares you for the loss of a child and the agony of a silent birth. The absence of your child’s heartbeat is haunting. The deafening silence echoes in your ears long after your own screams have ended. It is a pain that shakes you to your core and shatters your heart and soul into a million pieces over and over again.
There is no guidebook, no rules, no game plan. There is only grief.
I didn’t know what to do. I was broken and raw. My body laid vibrating from the unnatural feeling of losing such an intimate piece of myself. Every hair stood on edge, every cell screamed and ached.
Then I met her. My daughter was gently placed in my arms, wrapped safely in a white hospital blanket. I finally was able to feel her weight on my chest.
It was then I realized, that in this hell and darkness brought on by death, I wasn’t prepared for all of the love. The boundless and unconditional love that could only exist between a mother and her child. The kind of love that unexpectedly washes over you and leaves you breathless.
Powerful, beautiful, consuming love. A love not even death could steal away.
I was speechless, surrounded by a strange sense of peace in those quiet moments. Time slowed down, and all of the fear and guilt and sadness ceased. It was just her and I. The only time, in my life, I would ever have to see and hold my daughter. So I held her, both of us motionless. I stared at her beautiful face, breathing her in, trying to memorize every possible detail. I whispered, “I love you.”
I wanted to live in that moment forever and never let her go. It will never be enough time.
I watched silently as she was taken away, my dreams of motherhood following in her shadow. The next time I would hold her she would be in a small urn with flowers delicately etched around the outside.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
I was left to imagine an entire lifetime without her, left to process the new meaning of forever. How dark and sickeningly heavy those words suddenly became—never, forever, lifetime.
For many, she is a distant memory, something horrible that happened to me. They tuck her in the recesses of their minds and expect me to do the same as I now spend my days chasing two little boys. Somehow my living children are viewed as replacements for the one I lost.
I find myself fighting for her memory. She is not just a horrible thing that occurred. She isn’t simply a tragic event, she is my child.
She existed, and she matters.
I was made to feel like a failure, shunned and shamed, told I should apologize for my loss bringing discomfort to others. I was encouraged to grieve silently under the expectation that I would “get over it.”
Children aren’t supposed to die—babies don’t die. But they do. I’ve watched people squirm out of chairs and duck out of rooms while performing metaphorical backflips to avoid acknowledging this unspeakable reality.
But it’s my reality, my truth, and I must live it every day. I will never get over it.
Years have passed, and with time, I have woven her into my being. She is the force and the strength behind all the dreams I have had to rebuild.
I will never know why I was chosen to give my baby back, but I know now how to navigate my grief. It no longer holds me hostage the way it once did.
I let myself bob and weave through the anger, despair, jealousy, and bitterness. I cry when the love and the longing become too much to hold.
I continue to parent her from afar, allowing myself to do what brings comfort to my broken heart.
I still carry a heart full of wishes. I long to hold her again and kiss her cheeks. I stare at her brothers and try to find pieces of her in their starry eyes and bright smiles. I wonder what her laugh would sound like. And in the loneliest moments, I try to feel her hugging me from afar.
Parts of my memories of her, of that day, have faded and gone dark, but all of the love has survived. I understand now how strong a mother’s love is, my daughter gave me that gift. I know how far-reaching and encompassing love can be. From that tiny inkling to the positive pregnancy test, to the first flutter and the last kick, I know that the love for a child, no matter how fleeting their life may be, will never disappear.
My baby died, but she made me a mom. My love for her is as constant as my heartbeat, and for as long as I live she will be remembered and loved.