For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being a mother. Most of my earliest memories are of myself imagining, pretending, and preparing to become a mother. I didn’t just pack dolls around, I changed them, I pretended to nurse them, fed them, gave them haircuts, pushed them in the children sized shopping carts at the grocery store. I dogeared the pages of the big fat JCPenney catalog (do you remember those, or am I aging myself here?) of all the things I was going to need for a nursery. I had a secret journal of baby names. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to grow up to be a mother, and it couldn’t come soon enough.
Even as a little girl, being a mom was all I ever wanted in my heart.
Then, I got older and anxiety and fear crept into my life. I started to have a sneaking suspicion that the road to motherhood wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I had recurring nightmares about something going horribly wrong in a labor room. For years.
My biggest fear was that I would not be able to have kids.
My husband and I started trying for a child quickly because of this fear. We were absolutely delighted when we fell pregnant with our first born, Adeline. I was shocked, I truly did not think it would happen. But it did.
And then it was ripped out from under us.
Over halfway through my pregnancy, Adeline was born prematurely, and still. The excruciating pain that follows a loss like this is indescribable.
At 20 weeks, we had gone in for our first anatomy scan. Three things we learned at this appointment:
- The sex.
- That her brain was rapidly filling with fluid and both her and I were in danger.
- We found out that anatomy scans have NOTHING to do with the sex and EVERYTHING to do with the health of the baby.
Our life quickly turned to being constantly monitored by doctors and preparing for our pregnancy to come to an end at any moment. I was monitored for hours at a time at appointments, listening to my little girls heart, knowing that she was never going to have the capacity to thrive without me. I had a full blown panic attack in a fetal MRI. Of all the events that pursued, it is all a blur and I really can’t remember much of anything. I can picture all the different doors I walked in and out of for appointments, and I can feel the same pit in my stomach as I approached those doors. But, trauma took my memory.
I gave birth to the most beautiful 1lb 8 oz baby girl. I have a birth story. I labored and I delivered and I was handed my first born child. She was perfect.
What I didn’t get? I didn’t get to leave with her. I didn’t get to go home with her. I didn’t get to see her eyes, or hear her cry. I never got peed on or experienced a diaper explosion. I will never get to plan a birthday with her, take her to school, hear her belly laughs. I will never get to see her grow up, and I will always wonder.
I had no idea this could happen. Why didn't I know this could happen?
The deep, emotional pain of going home and continuing on with your life without your child is absolutely crippling. My memory isn’t what it used to be, I can’t focus or multitask like I used to be able to. I get headaches like you wouldn’t believe. Interactions where someone might ask me if I have kids causes so much anxiety and I will often opt out of the situation if it is a choice. More often than not, I will stand in front of somebody and look right at them when they are talking and have no idea what they just said to me. I cannot focus on what people are saying, I look right through them, because my mind is always, ALWAYS, somewhere else now.
I could not tell you what occurred in my life in the first year following the death of my daughter. The trauma completely wiped my memory. Being physically present was often the only way I was in attendance.
My mind lives somewhere else now. My mind lives in the memory of Adeline, in grief, in the “if”’s, and wonder.
I went from wanting children more than anything in life to being terrified of ever being pregnant again. The trauma made me question if I could ever do it again.
My tear stained pillows could tell a thousand stories of sleepless nights grieving the loss of my daughter and the fairy tale of a family.
But my heart… my heart wears a bigger size in empathy now.
Oh, my heart is one hundred times larger.
My heart feels like you wouldn’t believe.
All because I’m raising an angel.