I just could not understand how others (both known and unknown) were able to laugh, smile and celebrate whilst I mourned my loss. I remained in hospital for a couple of days after Isaac’s departure and being in there was like being in a cocoon which I did not appreciate until I stepped into the big ‘unfeeling’ world. As we drove home, I felt like hanging a sign on my head to portray the ordeal I had just been through in order for others to stop and stop carrying on as if nothing happened. Everywhere I turned it seemed it was business as usual. There were good days and bad days. I could not understand how people could pay us a visit and after conveying their condolence then engage in mundane talk, at that point I did not care about what was happening in the world. All I cared about was what had taken place in my world. In hindsight the ‘mundane’ talk at least helped take my mind off grieving continuously and focus on other things. From personal experience and my observations, I am of the opinion that majority of people who haven’t been through a similar experience are unable to understand the ups and downs of baby loss. My previous post ‘Out of sight is not out of mind’ highlights a few issues. Hence they may be unable to provide the on – going support (a phone call to check how you are, a shoulder to cry on when you need one, remembering the birth day of your baby(ies) and giving you space/time to adjust) required even days, weeks and years after the initial episode.
The day came when we made the decision ourselves that life indeed had to continue for us. We were very conscious that both our children (also Faith, who was born after Isaac) would never be forgotten. We planned and looked forward to a future with more children. I believe each mum can sense when it is time to forge ahead and when that time comes mum may life give you reasons to smile again!
I came across these quotes recently ‘when life gives you limes rearrange the letters until they stay smile’ and when life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.’ Of course, it was not easy for me to smile after trying to conceive month after month with no success nor after conceiving twice and losing both babies when all was deemed fine. But I came to that point shortly after we lost our second child, that although discouraged I refuse to be down and defeated. In my mind I decided not to be a victim but to be a victor despite my present or future state.
It took a lot of effort as both quotes depict (rearrange the letters until… and show life …) but it was a daily and continuous fight both internally and externally to keep smiling. Just having that mindset gave me the courage to face each day expectant that everything would be alright even if I did not achieve my desire of being a biological mum. Of course physically speaking I had many reasons to smile: we were still together, I was still alive, my blood pressure was under control, the assurance that I would see my kids again and finally my purpose in life was worth me hanging on.
I am grateful that I now have two boys that make me smile each day and for the opportunity to walk beside and encourage other women who have been given limes and I pray you would have many reasons to smile soon.
I have always been the strong one. I have always given my shoulders for others to cry on. I have always listened to others discuss their heartache and hardly shared mine, because I could handle my own, until the day I went into hospital to give birth to my first son. After 8 hours of labour with intense pain and in and out of sleep, I woke up to find the room full of medics and the Registrar asked me ‘do you understand what is going on? We cannot find a heartbeat! I nodded my head but thought it can’t be and I was waiting to give birth to my son and was positive he would be born alive. He never uttered a sound after he was born, you could actually hear a pin drop in the room. It is a scenario no one would ever wish to live again and I did nine months down the line.
So, being the person that I am, who could I talk to? I am so grateful for the relationship I have with my husband, we talked a lot and sometimes we sat quietly as words sometimes could not express how we felt and other times we cried individually and together. But we believed against hope and were confident our story would have a great ending.
Despite my secretive nature and keeping things to myself, I knew I could not handle this on my own. Yes, I talked to God but I also needed to talk to other people. I found it useful to talk to others who had gone down this road before, women who were currently in my shoes and people who had never walked in my shoes before (medics, strangers, friends and family). The interesting thing was although the people I spoke to could not reverse what had taken place nor guarantee a ‘happy’ ending they provided a platform for me to ask questions, they listened and sometimes their encouragement brought comfort and gave me a glimmer of hope. And sometimes their comments made me very upset. I certainly had mood swings. The funny thing I discovered that though my situation looked bad some other women had it worse off than me and I ended up crying for them and myself after hearing/reading their stories.
We all need an avenue to be real, to say how we really feel and that in itself is liberating.
Although I was taken aback by my baby loss episodes, I came to the understanding that it is not over and God indisputably has my back. Our second child Faith was born premature. I was confident she would survive and so I prayed. When the doctors told us we were losing her, I prayed the more and trusted God for a miracle. Faith however passed away nine hours after birth. Despite the fact my prayer was not answered, I still had Faith in this God I prayed to. I was more resolute in my Christian faith and made up my mind that nothing would stop me loving God. My journey through loss has demystified certain myths I once held and I have now acquired great insight into certain issues people grapple with in the area of loss.
- God is still God even if things don’t turn out the way I expect
- ‘Bad’ things surely happens to ‘good’ people
- God hears me even when it doesn’t feel like it
- Times of pain and loss reveal where our hearts really lie and what we believe
- Even when death occurs, it is not the end
Faith is physically not here, but I still have her and I am looking forward to the day we will be reunited to part no more. That’s a little incentive for me to maximise my life, make it count, make a difference in the lives of others and make my Faith proud!
We were made to believe that my first son’s death was unavoidable and it was unfortunate Isaac was born stillborn. As the days and weeks passed by, I spent time processing what happened and lots of questions ensued. The response we got from the hospital was unsatisfactory and we decided to take it further because I felt if we let go, the same thing would happen to another family and I was also disappointed with the level of care I had received. After going back and forth for nearly three years, some of my complaints were upheld by the Health Care Commission but due to the length of time it had taken to get to this point, we had very little time to take the hospital to Court. I found the whole thing mentally, physically and emotionally draining. At that point I was upset that after trying for so long to get to the bottom of what happened, time was not on my side.
About two weeks to go to this deadline, I decided not to proceed any further because the road to discovery was far off, and neither an apology from the hospital nor compensation would replace what we lost. Instead I decided to let my loss/pain benefit others in similar situations and to prevent the same thing happening to expectant mums. It was not an easy journey but looking back, reaching out to other women in my position presented me with the opportunity to turn my loss to joy!
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
Mother’s day is a day I celebrated once I got married for two reasons: firstly as a mother figure to others and secondly due to the fact I had the potential and opportunity to now become one. However I found myself in a bit of a dilemma (did I qualify to be called a mum) when my trying to conceive period was longer than anticipated and after losing two babies in a row.
As we celebrate Mother’s day today, I have come a long way in my understanding of who a mum is. Motherhood in my opinion can be biological, non biological and can be envisioned by faith before it becomes a reality in the natural realm. I learnt not to go with society’s label of whether or not I was a mum. I chose to be ‘happy’ each mother’s day and to celebrate with others although physically speaking I had no biological children. Of course I longed for the day I would hear my children call me ‘mummy’ but my vision of being a mum kept me going, kept me joyful and kept me praising. In the meantime then I spent time preparing for motherhood (reading, asking questions, observing other mums, babysitting (not too often though) and planning) and pouring my life into my non – biological children.
Today, I classify myself as a mother to Isaac and Faith who are no longer here and to both my two sons who are still here.
Perhaps you too have lost a baby (ies) or you are trying to conceive, today is a day to celebrate in expectation of the children that are coming into your life and for the many lives you have encouraged, invested in, sown into, cared for, prayed into, given wise counsel and sacrificed for.
Happy Mother’s Day!