1) When they tell you your child doesn’t have a heartbeat, you don’t expect to have to go through natural childbirth. Not only, did I experience labor; but, they let my contractions come closer together than they would for a woman with a living baby inside. When the uterus contracts, it squishes the baby and doesn’t allow them to breath. That is why they monitor you and the baby’s heart rate when you are in labor. If the contractions come too close together the baby can’t breathe and they will do something to slow them down. In my case, there was no heart rate to monitor. So, they let the contractions come back to back. That probably explains why it was almost exactly 24 hours from the moment they started to induce me until Asher was born.
2) When your child passes in utero, their bodies start to deteriorate rapidly. Changes start happening to them 4-6 hours after they pass. Asher was born with little blisters on him. His skull obviously didn’t bounce back from coming through the birth canal and it appeared as if his brow bone looked more squished. His lips were cherry red. These changes are common with stillbirths. The outer layer of skin starts to separate from the dermis causing blisters and peeling. Bones in their skull start to overlap. Their lips are red due to blood pooling in that area. (Found on Still Birthday)
After he was born, I found myself staring at him trying to figure out what caused him to die. I kept asking Hubby “Why does he have blisters? Does his head look normal?”. I thought he had some sort of infection that caused the blisters and that is what took him from us. Since they were considering a chromosomal issue for his passing, I kept starting at his brow bone, thinking maybe he didn’t form right. I just kept staring at him trying to figure out why this happened and if these physical abnormalities were symptoms of the cause. Turns out, they weren’t. I wish I didn’t stare at him and wonder what was wrong with him. Because the truth is, there was nothing wrong him. I wasted the only amount of time I had with him in my arms trying to figure out a reason for our loss. I regret that more than words can say.
3) After you have your child, you continue to have strange twitches in your abdomen that feel like phantom kicks. I had Asher 7 weeks early. Even now, over four months past his due date, I still have these twitches and it feels like it did when he would kick me. I never had these prior to getting pregnant. Now I get them randomly, but usually at least once a day. Each time I get them, I am reminded that I lost my baby and at one point in time he was the one making my stomach twitch.
4) You will cry in extremely public areas. Just the other week at Target, I was looking at clothing when I heard a newborn crying. I had to turn my back to the woman and reign in the tears that immediately sprang to my eyes. The sound of a newborn crying is absolutely gut wrenching to me. I never heard that sound come from my son and hearing it when I’m least expecting it, absolutely stuns me. Going out in public is full of triggers and you never know where you will be when something sets off the water works.
5) You will be connected with some pretty amazing people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have met and reconnected with some wonderful people since losing my son and I know that was his influence. Initially after losing him, I was connected to two women, by mutual friends, who had stillborns. I have not met either of these women in person. Yet, they have been such amazing supports for me. They have been open books about their children and their experiences. No question was off limits to ask them. I reconnected with a friend that I attended school with from elementary to high school. I remember reading of the loss of her daughter while pregnant with my son and how devastated I was for her. When Asher passed, she was one of the first people I reached out to for some guidance. From attending the support groups, Hubby and I have met a wonderful couple who we get along with famously. It makes my heart happy to know that Hubby has someone he can talk to (if he wants to) about Asher who understands exactly how he is feeling. Through attending events, I’ve connected with another woman who has a similar story to ours. She has been such a positive influence. And of course, through social media, I have connected with many other mothers who all share the same hurt as me.
Of course, it breaks my heart that my connection to all of these wonderful people is that we have all lost a child/ren. All of us would give up our connections to one another in a heartbeat, if it meant we could have our children back. However, our relationships with one another are a testament to our children’s lives. If our children didn’t exist, we would’ve never met one another. The relationships we have with one another is a little bit of light in the darkness of our loss that I believe our children gave to us to make dealing with losing them a tiny bit easier.
6) You will learn to tell the difference between when someone says “how are you” as a way of greeting and “how are you” in reference to your loss. I’ve learned this the most at work. Many times I pass someone in the hallway and they ask how I am. If they said it quickly, they are just saying it as a way of greeting . If they stop walking and ask how I am, they want to know how I am in reference to the loss of Asher. Often times people will ask “how are you doing”. When they ask that, I know they are referring to Asher. When you suffer a massive loss, you learn to tell when someone is referencing it even without actually mentioning it.
7) You have to text people in advance of large social events to find out how many babies and pregnant women will be there. You get anxiety about large events because you are afraid of the unexpected children there. You need to be prepared so you aren’t caught off guard, start crying, and ruin the whole thing. You never did this before your loss, but now you have to be ready in order to handle your grief in a non-off-putting way.
8) You don’t sweat the small stuff (as much) anymore. Before losing Asher, something like a small wrench in a plan, could throw off my whole day and make me pissy. Now, that stuff doesn’t really phase me anymore. My whole life was thrown off by the loss of Asher. A huge wrench was thrown in my life’s plan. Something like getting the wrong order at a restaurant doesn’t bother me anymore. Before, it would literally piss me off (I’m a very picky eater) and I would be pouty all day. Now, who the hell cares?! I mean really, it’s one meal. When your whole life has been rocked and turned upside by something you have absolutely no control over, you don’t care about the minute things anymore.
9) You become very sensitive to wording. After losing a child, any type of wording that implies they did not exist strikes a nerve. It doesn’t matter who says it, you will become extremely defensive. For example, my husband was talking to someone and said the phrase “If Asher had been born….”. Obviously, he knows that Asher was born, he was there in the very silent delivery room and never left my side for a full 48 hours. He did not mean it the way it came out but I immediately jumped down his throat and said “He WAS born”. He didn’t deserve my reaction, but I am highly sensitive to wording that implies my son was never here. I was speaking to another loss mom and when someone implied her daughter was not a big sister, she immediately shut down. No one says anything to offend us, but you just become so sensitive to particular words and phrases because you want the world to know your child was here, if only for a short time, and any implication to the contrary upsets and angers you.
10) You will never be “you” again. I will never be the person I was before we lost Asher. I will never be the person that I was on February 17th . A part of me died on February 18th , when they told me my son had died. I am forever jaded. I lost my naivety that after 12 weeks, your pregnancy will end with a living baby. When I see people’s pregnancy announcements, I think “you don’t know that you are actually going to keep that baby”. You just don’t know what can happen. I’m living the worst case scenario of having a child and I will be for the rest of the my life. So many people reference that your life is divided into two parts after a massive loss, the “before” and the “after”. I am living in the “after” and I will never be who I was “before” again.