Reality Calling

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.

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I Had a Baby.

One day at a time. one foot in front of the other. I wake up every morning and go through the motions of life while everything stands still. Every morning I gaze in the bathroom mirror and try to remember what I looked like pregnant. I hated how my body looked pregnant at the time, and now I’m so acutely aware of how beautiful it was and how beautiful I was when she was with me. I was huge, but I had a happiness and a smile that transcended my circumference. Now I stand and see a saggy tummy, full of bright purple stretch marks that only serve as a painful reminder of what I had and lost, in so many ways.

It’s very easy for the world to forget that I’ve had a baby when I don’t have a baby. It’s easy for others not to acknowledge what my body has been through. I’ve been focusing a lot of the emotional side of this struggle, which is undoubtedly the part of this that consumes me the most. But there is a part of this that a lot of people forget about, that’s easy to forget about when you don’t have a baby in your arms. The physical side; the pain, the recovery, the engorgement.

These are things I might feel differently about if my arms weren’t empty. I’d like to imagine that when you do come home with a baby you’re so consumed with this new precious little life that taking care of your own physical needs becomes secondary and not nearly as consuming as it has been for me. Unfortunately, I can’t speak from experience, I can only speculate. I didn’t bring a baby home. People are afraid to ask, but for those who were curious, I didn’t have a c-section. I’m undergoing the same recovery process that any mother who delivered a baby goes through. And I’m not spared from the postpartum hormones either, I’m a tangled mess of hormones and grief. My body and my mind conspire against me.

Grief is such an odd “thing”. If am not sure if it’s an emotion or feeling or state of mind or stage or what so I am just gonna call it a thing. Its a thing that has consumed my mind and my body. I don’t know when or if I’ll get either, or both, back. It makes you sad and keeps you sad. It can take away the ability to see the happy in situations. It can smother you like a blanket and take your breath away. It makes you a stranger to yourself. It will allow you to go through the motions of life, but in a way, stop you from actually living.