While some individuals may believe that a child of only one and half years wouldn’t be able to comprehend the feeling of grief, I am here to tell you that the pain experienced by us as adults is just as raw for our resilient littles.
Children are empaths in the deepest of forms. They pick up on the cues around them and have the capacity to feel what others are feeling from within their frame of reference. They want to heal the hurting hearts of their parents and loved ones. They want to go back to the way things were. I loathe the fact that my sweet baby has to endure this painful new addition to our lives, the addition we call grief.
I believe that our sweet tot had dreams and aspirations for all of the adventures she would have with her Sissy, just as we had for the two of them together. I watch her so closely, so intently.
I study each and everything she does so carefully.
Her mannerisms have changed, her appearance has changed, she has grown so much in the last few weeks, but her innocence has stayed the same.
She finds joy in the smallest things.
She is so brave. I watch as she plays, connects, creates & loves.
So free and uninhibited.
Life is filled with so many choices, we taught her that.
Sometimes she won’t have the ability to choose and sadly “life” chose to teach her that before she was ready.
I am just so grateful that she has chosen to love life and find hope in the healing process even when so deeply affected by grief.
We know that her biggest worry is making her Mommy and Daddy feel better. To help us heal our hurting hearts but what she doesn’t know is that her innocence and pure love for life is already healing every ounce of our beings.
Sometimes when you’re feeling deflated and confused, you should look to your toddler so you can understand life again.
There have been many instances throughout the existence of my blog that I have spoken about how writing is a therapeutic saving grace.
Writing has guided me through many occasions of growth and of loss. Loss of animals, loss of friends, loss of my job and is now helping me heal through the loss of a child.
After Willa was born, my nurse (also a mother of loss) warned me that although my baby was “gone” my milk would still “come in.”
As a woman who just lost their child you automatically think about what a cruel reminder something so absolutely precious suddenly became. How could it be that what your heart and mind knew, could have such disconnect from your body?
I remember waiting for three excruciatingly long days for the let down, for the physical reminder of my tragic loss. I say “I remember” like this event in my life was so long ago, but that’s because to me, the past two and a half weeks have felt like two and a half years.
Throughout the days between Willas birthday and the day my milk finally came in, I received an overwhelming amount of questions pertaining too “drying up, pumping, leakage, mastitis, lactation tea & nursing bras”. It was Chad, a man who just so happens was also elected into this “club” that we never asked to join, whom let the words “donation” mutter across his lips.
Directly after undergoing a loss all you can think about is ridding the emotional pain, trying to find a way to feel something, anything at all but all you feel is numb.
You don’t want constant reminders of what should have been. To me, pumping my milk and storing it in the freezer would be a constant reminder of the baby whom I was supposed to nourish, of the bonding time that I so longed for and a reminder of the most cherished moments that I got to spend with Oak but wouldn’t get with Willa. At first when Chad suggested donating my milk I instantly became defensive and stated that I just wanted to “dry up”. It took me a day to think about it and I came to the realization that if I was a mama who didn’t have enough milk to provide to her baby, had a child in the NICU, had an adopted baby etc that I would be so grateful for healthy human milk for my baby. When I came to terms with my personal decision, I also decided that Willa would be happy to share what should have been hers with someone who needed it most.
So three days after our sweet Willa was born the hard process of pumping started. You don’t do it for praise or to feel like a hero, you do it because it feels so right. It was also on that third day that I realized pumping my milk was just as much for me, as it was for the baby who would receive it. There is absolutely nothing in the world that can fully heal the heart of a mother who has lost a child, not time, not another baby, not well wishes from others etc. But there are some things that can make it less painful and for me in this instance, in this second week since losing my baby, therapy in the form of writing and donating Willas milk are two.
To the Babies,
Ps. if you live in Alberta and are a healthy mama you can donate your breast milk VIA a facebook group called “Human Milk 4 Human Babies-Alberta” HM4HB
There are so many instances in life where you think “it will never happen to me” until “it” does.
It doesn’t matter the instance: debt, divorce, deception, dependency, disease, death.
The painful things in life are often thought about, but thought about happening to others far away from our immediate circle but in the end, inevitable.
When dreaming about my future I always knew I would be a mama to many babies. However, I never dreamt that I would be a mama to an angel at only 27 years. I feel as cliché as it may sound, you always have to expect the unexpected. For me, everything that has occurred in the last few weeks has been unexpected.
I spent 39 weeks + 4 days preparing for our beautiful baby girl.
Preparing little clothes.
Preparing little blankets.
Preparing little cloth diapers.
Preparing for our renovations.
Preparing big Sissy for the arrival of baby Sissy.
But nothing, not one thing could prepare me for the look on my doctors face when he couldn’t find a heart beat.
As a Mama you soak up each moment that you carry your sweet little within. You cherish each kick, each wiggle, each doctors appointment and each time someone asks how far along you are. You perk up and fill with delight each time someone asks you if you know whether you’re having a boy or girl and you feel like you have the biggest secret in the world when someone asks if you’ve thought of a name for your sweet babe.
My pregnancy with Willa was normal.
It was healthy.
It was beautiful.
It was so cherished.
It was so wanted.
She was so wanted.
I used to pride myself in being the type of person who would do anything for anyone. I’ve regularly put the needs and wants of others before my own. I prided myself on being selfless.
I’m different now.
I still have an undeniable want and need to love on others but that now looks different as I learn to do unto and consider myself first.
Throughout the last few weeks I have had many instances where I felt selfish. As if the time I got to spend with Willa should have been shared.
And then I learned I was wrong.
Being selfish is the act of not considering others.
I was not being self-centred, I am not being self-centred, I am simply engaging in the act of self-preservation.
Sometimes it’s okay to self preserve because “it” may happen to you.
It’s okay to be “selfish.”
I never thought I would see the day where Chad decided to get a tattoo, but when I expressed that I wanted to get a family tattoo as part of our healing journey he mentioned that he wanted to get one as well. There is something so therapeutic about experiencing the raw pain from being tattooed at a time where all you are experiencing is emotional pain. With each stroke it’s like the artist is feeding power and strength back into your hurting soul.
No relationship is all sunshine, mine and Chads relationship is no exception but we have learned how to share one umbrella and weather the storms together.
Here we are living despite everything that has been thrown our way on this life journey, and we have the ability to become so much more than we ever thought we could be. We can choose to drown or we can choose to conquer the shit that has been hurled into our life story.
Welcome to this chapter of our life story: healing.
“We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize we only have one.”
(Tattoos by Steves Custom Tattoos)
The expression “stop to smell the roses” is not simply about flowers but rather how to live life with a deeper appreciation for the world around us.
This past week has been filled with so many firsts but also filled with so many routine tasks and responsibilities that are the norm for our family.
Feeling an unexplainable heaviness, learning how to breathe, numbness and loss for words are all new to us but so are finding joy and beauty in the mundane, simplistic everyday.
We are surrounding ourselves with people who feel like sunshine and allowing ourselves to succumb to inconsolable tears one moment and incredulous laughter the next.
Learning how to cope with the waves of grief is a skill that can only be mastered over time. It may get softer, more gentle and hurt a little less but it will last as long as love does-forever.
Finding joy in everyday life may seem so distant to others experiencing the same heartbreak as us as it’s so fresh but I believe that pouring yourself into something that finds you solace is one of the best forms of healing.
For myself I find joy in the mundane through the lens of my camera and by expressing the words that can’t be verbalized through writing.
The greatest advice I can give you as a grieving mother as cliché as it may sound is: “stop watering the weeds in your life and start watering the flowers” in other words, slow down, enjoy the little things, squeeze your babies, tell others you love them, stop to smell the roses and find joy in the mundane.
All my love,
ps. “life is too short to drink shitty coffee.”