Someone commented on my blog yesterday who lost their 2 year old only 2 months ago. They are also 30 weeks pregnant. I was at my daughter’s school and she was begging me to stop looking at my phone and watch her on the monkey bars, so I typed out a quick response pleading with the woman to find a therapist, and fast. But I’ve had a moment to think about her situation and I’ve decided to write a letter. This blog post is for you, and for anyone else who has just joined the world’s shittiest club.
Welcome, dear friend. No one wants to be a member of this club, but here we are. It is a club of grief, and you’ll be a member for the rest of your life. I’m not trying to start this off on a bad note, I’m just calling it like it is. Keep reading.
You are now in the absolute very beginning stages of grief. Take comfort in the knowledge that this is the worst, most horrible time. While you still are likely shielded with a heavy dose of shock, the state you’re in is so raw that I’m actually cringing right now just thinking about it. It’s hard for me to even think about those early days. God, the pain is so unbearable. This is the worst of it.
You told me that you couldn’t eat. Yea, that’s normal. I lost a ton of weight during that time. I remember someone telling me I looked great. How utterly awful. I had to make myself eat. And being pregnant, you do, too. Pick the absolute most delicious comfort food. I know, nothing sounds delicious, but pick something you thought was delicious before your child died, and eat that. For me it was In-N-Out burger. I found that once the food was in front of me I devoured it. I didn’t realize how hungry I was. Sometimes that meal was the only thing I ate all day. Nourishing your body seems so unnatural when your child is dead. But if you starve yourself so bad you get sick, you’ll feel even worse than you do now. And I don’t have to tell you that the teeny person inside of you really needs your care, now and always.
If someone offers to take you somewhere or do something “to cheer you up” just do it. Just go along with it if you can. If you smile once, or chuckle even one time, it was worth it. Don’t feel guilty, either. Remember, you’re dealing with the worst thing that could ever happen to you. You deserve to enjoy things.
Your hormones are all over the place, so throw away any crazy, unsafe thoughts and get some therapy. Very few 30 week pregnant women are in their right minds anyway, so the fact that you’ve got child loss to deal with too is no joke. Getting help is something I cannot stress enough. It is imperative to your well being and the well being of your surviving children.
Speaking of children, when the new baby comes it is going to bring a whole host of new issues. Take your grief right now and add a debilitating level of exhaustion onto it. Scary, right? Those first few months are going to test you like nobody’s business. I don’t know what your support system is like, but do whatever you can to get help with the baby so you can rest at all. I know, you’ve got another young child to watch. I did, too. I’m not going to tell you that I had tons of help, because I didn’t. My husband was at work and I had no friends who had time to come over and hold the baby so I could take a nap. I had some very low moments. It was awhile before I was sure I could do it all.
Google “I lost my child” or “my baby died”. I want you to read all the posts of people who just want to die because they were never able to get themselves together after they lost their child. They never stopped to be grateful for the children they still have, or the good things in their life. After their child died, they died, too. Although their hearts still beat, they’re gone to their family. They’re gone to the innocent children who have no one to be present for them. They’re gone from their spouses, who are also grieving horribly. Count up how many times you read the phrase, “I can’t wait to die so that I can go be with my baby in heaven.”
After you’ve read those posts, tell yourself you aren’t going to go down that path. Tell yourself that you will love your beautiful child until your last day on earth. Tell yourself that you will love your surviving children, your family, and yourself. Don’t die with your child. Don’t allow your living children to lose more than they already have.
Things will get better. They won’t get better by themselves, though. You have to want it. It takes work to not just give up on life. I know, in your early days you can’t see it yet. That’s OK. Just let yourself be raw. Take these next 10 weeks you have while pregnant to be your most raw self. I spent 3 months researching how to turn back time. I really did that. And I don’t regret it. It was a path I needed to take. I was sure someone could right this terrible wrong. What happened shouldn’t have happened, and someone needed to fix it. I finally realized that I needed to fix my heart. If I didn’t, I would die, too.
I am still fixing my heart. I know this is going to sound treacherous, but I’m only 2 years in. 2 years in this business is not long at all. You grieve for the rest of your life. But the grief changes over time. I shudder to think of being 2 months in. I am so much better now than I was back then. I still have my dips and valleys. I’m nowhere near where I want to be. But I have hope. That hope drives me forward. I know what I’m writing might sound depressing. The thing I can’t convey on paper are the joys that I’ve experienced since my son died. The beautiful moments with my children, the myriad of times where I have felt pure joy, have laughed my ass off and have been 100% sure that my entire family can get through this journey with flying colors. That success is there, and I’ve seen it in other people who have lost children just like we have.
There will be times, especially over the next year, that you will be totally underwater. Don’t drown, like so many other parents have. You don’t have to live like that. Drowning and throwing your life away does no extra service to your child who died. It doesn’t make you love them anymore than you already do. It just makes an enormously horrible thing that happened even worse.
There is hope in the world. There is joy. You have to want it. You have to want it as much as you want your sweet child back.