Picture of a double rainbow | Finding Hope After Child Loss | Blog Articles on healing after the losing a child | Get pregnancy and infant loss support at Evolve Counseling, LLC in Centennial, CO 80112

If you know me at all, then you know probably know that I am a therapist and more importantly, a mother.  But here is what you may not know.  I have three children, only two of which are living. My first child never took a breath outside my body.  

We were like any first time parents.  So excited to find out the sex of our baby at the 20 week ultrasound.  Little did we know that day our lives would change forever.   After finding out our child was a boy, our hearts sank as we heard the words “I’m sorry, there is something wrong with your baby”.  That moment is burned in my memory.  

From there life got hectic.  It was a whirlwind of ultrasounds, fetal MRI’s, fetal echoes, and lots and lots of silent prayers. Prayers that it was a mistake, prayers that he would make it, prayers that I would wake up from this horrible dream.  

Unfortunately, that was not the case.  He was diagnosed with Trisomy 13, which is known for being “incompatible with life”.  He had many serious abnormalities that threatened his life.  We were told that if he made it to term he would most like die during birth or shortly afterwards.  

His heart stopped beating at almost 24 weeks gestation and was stillborn the following morning.  My life stood still at that moment.  It felt impossible to move on.  Answerless questions swirled around in my mind; why me? how could this happen?  how could I go on?

The days, weeks, and months following that day were a fog.  I worked furiously on a scrap book containing every memory I had.  I cried. I returned to work.  It seemed like the world had gone on, although my life seemed to stand still.  

Over the years the pain changed.  It hasn’t gone away, but there are definitely more good days than bad.  At the beginning I felt guilty if I didn’t cry each day.  I worried that I would forget the smell of his skin, the soft delicate touch of his cheeks.  But I’ll never forget.  He’s a part of me.  I’ve realized that I will always miss him.  Even if I have happy days, I’m not betraying him by living.  I’m honoring him.  I find ways to carry him with me.

He’s a part of our family.  A part of our life.  We celebrate his birthday and shed tears that he isn’t here. We think of him on holidays.  Donate toys in his memory.  Nurture a garden in his honor.  We continue to love him, think of him, and parent him.  We continue living, while wondering what life would be like if he was here.  We watch his siblings play and think about the brother that is missing.  The pain is still there, but there is also joy.  There is a sense of gratitude for the love we felt and what we’ve learned from his short life.  

This is a very personal story to share, opening up a vulnerable side of me.  You may be asking why I’m sharing all of this.  Well, if I have learned anything from my clients over the years, it’s that vulnerability is courage.  And from courage comes hope.  I’m sharing my story to provide hope and with a few specific goals in mind.

First, to provide hope that healing after loss is possible.  We never forget.  There is no “getting over it”.  The pain doesn’t ever go away, and I don’t know that we’d want it to.  But healing is possible and it does not mean forgetting about your child.  No matter what stage you lost them, they’re your child and you love them.  That will always remain the same. 

Secondly, I hope to raise awareness that perinatal loss happens more than we would like to realize and it is earth-shattering.  Awareness that your children matter, your love matters, and you can carry them with you.  

Third, to let people know that it is okay to talk about their children.  It’s okay for friends and family to say their name, to mention them, to include them in conversations.  In fact, this actually comforts many grieving parents.  They want to know that their child hasn’t been forgotten.  And if talking about it does not help you. That’s okay, too.

There is no right or wrong in the grieving process. Everyone is different in how they handle loss.  Respect your process.  Know that you are not alone and that your child’s life, no matter how brief, was significant.  They mattered. 

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

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