Existing in her Absence

There are few questions people ask me that cause more stress than “so is he your only baby?”. They look at my youngest son adoringly, listening to him coo and giggle. They’re completely oblivious to the the fact that their simple small talk has driven a hot dagger into my chest. How do you answer that question when you have three children, but one is dead. I’m left to agonize: do I suck the air out of this conversation and tell them about my daughter? Or do I simply say “I have another boy at home”, and rely on double speak to avoid denying my daughter’s existence?

Everlee has become a part of the walls of my brain. She is woven into the fabric of my being. All thoughts are infused with her loss. Not in a horribly sad way, as they once were, but more like a lens through which I see things. I think a lot about my reaction to matters, in the grande scale of life, and especially in how I react to my boys and how life would be different with her here. I think about how her absence puts things into perspective.  After you lose a baby, nothing is the same, is it?  Not your everyday, ordinary existence.  Not holidays or celebrations.  Being alive is different in every single way.

I still live with a crushing sense of guilt about her loss.  I can’t explain the guilt.   I didn’t kill her.   I didn’t do anything so that she would die.  And yet still I feel guilt about her not being here.   And I know that this is irrational.

When it comes to healing, so far, blogging has been a wonderful tool to work through my grief.  Not just because of adding a complexity to my role as a parent, but because it is creative and it has allowed me to connect with others through technology. It has allowed me to realize that while talking about my dead child is still very much taboo in every day life, there are many more mothers just like me, clinging to the hope that some day someone will mention their baby’s name without being prompted to do so. And someone will ask how we are and really want to know. Because no matter how good of a day I’m having, I never will be ok. I will merely be existing in her absence.

 

 

 

 

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Every year during the week leading up to October 15th, I make an effort in my social media circles to shine a light on the statistics surrounding stillbirth – it continues to shock me that 1 in 200 pregnancies in North America end in stillbirth. And there have been no statistically significant reduction in stillbirth rates in the western world in 50 years. But I also want to take this week to reach out to my fellow baby lost mothers that have connected with me in the last 4 and a half years since I joined this sad club. Your stories have become a part of mine. There isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t cross my mind, for even the briefest of moments. I know that no matter how sad and lonely this path in life may seem, we all have each other. Caleb, Rose, Michael, Kara, Haven, Olivia, Oliver, Benjamin, Janet.. and the countless others, too many to name. These babies are precious. You are in my heart. Be gentle with yourselves.
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