Our daughter’s heart had stopped beating. The screen was motionless. So was I. Even the excruciating pain of the placental abruption I was experiencing was numbed by shock.
The simple fact is, there is nothing like a stillbirth. There is nothing like going to the hospital thinking you are about to bring your baby home, only to have the incredible joy of pregnancy ripped away, leaving deep searing emptiness. There is nothing like knowing that you are still going to have to endure labour, and birth, and swollen breasts and weeks of bleeding.
Only your baby will be dead.
Your labour will produce nothing but a beautiful shell of the precious person you have lived your life to protect. Your arms will be empty and there will be no way to soothe your aching soul. Ever.
And that doesn’t even factor int he guilt. or the wondering. Or the pain. Soul shattering pain. It wasn’t only emotional, it was physical. My head hurt from sobbing. My eyes burned and felt raw as the scabs beneath them appeared beneath them from wiping all of the tears. My arms throbbed because she wasn’t physically there to fill them. They still do. Stillbirth didn’t just happen to me. Or to Everlee. It’s not passive. It doesn’t just happen. Your baby dies, and then you give birth.
And you’ve had a baby. But you don’t have a baby.
When I was pregnant I was like every other excited mother. I signed up for lists, and coupons and Facebook groups. Now, every forgotten tick of a check box on an online purchase comes back to me when I least expect it, and I relive it all over again.
Yesterday, while standing at the end of the counter waiting for my latte at Starbucks my phone rang. I picked up and a cheerful gentleman said “Mrs. McMeekin, My name is _______ and I contacted you back in May, we got your information from Thyme Maternity and I was wondering if you had given any more thought to the RESP that we had discussed for your baby. I see they should be about 6 months old now is that right?”
What this gentleman didn’t seem to recall was me falling to pieces on the phone with him back in May. He didn’t remember me telling him about Everlee passing away. He didn’t recall me begging him to take me off of his calling list.
However, my hurt this time was rage.
Standing at the end to the counter I tore into the man on the other end of the phone. I had told him in May to remove me from his list and he hadn’t done that. So now, I was standing in the one place where I still find some peace, and I am attacked from behind when I least expect it.
Reality calling, just checking in to make sure that you know your daughter is still dead. Got it? ok. good.
As if I could forget. But life keeps seeming to want to remind me. Blow after blow to the face. As if I don’t think of it every second of the day. It’s been 205 endless days and nights that blur together in a sleepless haze. I don’t ask for the memories to come. They’re just there. I lie in bed every night and I birth her again and again and again. I hold her again and again for the first and last time. I feel that lingering ache that prevents me forgetting even for a second the nauseating reality of what has happened.
It changed me.
I try so hard to out on a smile and go out into the world and be the Rhonda everyone wants me to be. But it’s hard. and I hurt. And I’m exhausted. Sometimes pretending I’m ok is even harder than admitting I’m not.
It still bothers me when people say I’m brave. Bravery is a choice. Living this, surviving it isn’t a choice. Its my responsibility to my daughter to keep going, because she cannot. If anything, it’s as Juliette Lewis said “The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die”.
My daughter’s heart stopped beating. But mine beats for her now.
I was at work when you texted me. We were supposed to hang out that next day. You hadn’t said much all day and I sent you a text just to say hi and you eventually replied saying something was wrong. I was absolutely gutted. I could barely stand and the rest of that night was passed in a haze. The next few days were wave after wave of anger, confusion, grief. For Everlee, for you, for Darcy, for your whole family. Love continued but like how I was after we lost Dad, the world moves on but the reality of where you are and what isn’t there never goes away.
I’ve seen you step forward and slip back but the fact that you do keep moving forward for you, and for her makes me so proud to be your friend and while nothing can make it better just know that no matter how lost you feel or how endless the ache the reality is you aren’t as alone as you feel. There are always people no more than an arms length away and you are loved.
Also if you need Thyme Maternity to say.. Have a series of fires.. I know people..
All i can say to this is every move you make, you are making for her as well, every heart beat is for her, every laugh is for her, every smile, every tear, every talk with her daddy, every memory, every single thing you do is for her. I love you Rhonda.
Ugh, I’m so sorry you had to get that phone call. How rude and awful. There are enough landmines all over the world without unnecessary ones like that:( This is a good description of what this pain feels like. Thanks for sharing.
I know we went through very different things but your words always touch me …. I was at the dentist the other day, & my dentist said oh we see you cancelled your appointment to get your wisdom teeth out because you were pregnant , how’s your baby doing ? Hearing it was like a knife stabbing into my chest , I thought to myself hows dead baby? But instead I said no I didn’t, I lost him. Then the dentist & assistant apologized but it was a very uncomfortable appointment from there on in, it was just awkward. People don’t realize that little things like that, that mean absolutely nothing to them is shattering to us … I’d be 29 weeks & 4 days if I was still pregnant …. There will always be a constant reminder that you don’t have your angel with you, I know our pain is very different , but the daily suffering is something we both have in common. I use to take it day by day, & the closer i get to my due date , it’s like I’m taking life hour to hour . You never get over the pain, or forget it, you just learn to live with it. Losing my pregnancy changed me as a person. I was a mother I heard the first heart beat & even tho I won’t even get to meet my angel it doesn’t make me love or miss him or her any less. Remember that you were blessed with being able to see her, hold her, touch her, smell her, feel her. Your still her mom & even though we don’t know each other I know you would have been an amazing mother . Stay strong Rhonda, take it minute by minute. You & Everlee are always on my mind. If you ever want to vent DM me on twitter ! 💜💜💜
Wow. I completely relate to everything you’ve said. Nice to know that I’m on the same page with someone. I’m sorry that you have to carry the loss and pain with you daily. I wish the world could stop long enough for us to pick ourselves up off of the ground-or at the very least not expect us to just jump back into life where we left off.
I just want you to know that I understand every feeling you share here, and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m the mother of a stillborn too, my little angel Arthur, my first child. I don’t believe that there are the right words to describe how it feels, only a mother who lost her baby knows how it’s like.
It all happened on aug 1st, but I feel like everybody thinks that I should just forget everything and move on. I don’t blame them. It’s hard for other people to understand this situation.
My husband and I are trying to conceive again, and it’s another challenge for us. Every month I have my period, it’s frustrating. I know that having another baby won’t bring Arthur back, and I never will be 100% happy again, but it will bring joy to my life and make me as happy as I can be.
I wish the best of luck for us. Thank you for creating this blog. You can’t imagine how helpful it is to know I’m not alone.