Amber reflected on what it felt like to be struggling with loss while those around her were going on with life, getting pregnant, and having babies. For someone struggling with stillbirth, miscarriage and infertility it's almost like the world stops, like you're stuck in this rut while everyone else keeps going.
Having a child, or children, at home while going through a loss can add feelings that may be unique to those experiencing “secondary” loss or infertility. Group facilitator Alyssa had a child at home during her three, first trimester losses. She wrote this after her third loss.
We wanted to share it after realizing among each other that having a child or children may complicate grief and mourning in a different way. On top of the grief you feel you may also have feelings of guilt and selfishness for grieving, like Alyssa did. If you are experiencing a loss after having a child, your feelings are still valid, you aren’t crazy, you aren’t along. Your grief is still OK.
That's the reply I can muster most days for those who ask how I'm doing. "I'm ok," or "I'm alright" seem like downright lies. Answering, "My heart is broken," or "I cried for twenty minutes alone in my bed last night," or "I'm just trying to get through every day," seem too honest for those friendly coworkers not knowing the pain I'm feeling.
So I just reply, "I'm alive," and I smile to keep them from asking further; a fake smile that I've perfected over the years. A smile that I hope says, "Hahaha, aren't I funny, nothing terrible and devastating happening over here."
I feel like I'm in limbo. I don't belong in the tight sisterhood of those women that have yet to know the feeling of a baby squirming in your womb. I've felt the joy and love of motherhood. My arms and heart aren't empty...and yet I have lost. I yearn. I want. I feel unfulfilled.
But I feel as though my troubles should be less. They should be less than the woman who has been trying for years just to conceive. They should be less than those that do not know the love you feel when you look upon your child's face. They should be less than my friends, coworkers, and family that don't have what I do.
I feel like I'm part of a group of ghosts. We exist. We've felt the unimaginable love of a mother, but we've also felt the excruciating pain of infertility or loss. Can we speak about it? Can we cry out for help knowing there are others who suffer childless? Is our suffering truly less? Should our pain be muted by the toddlers running around our homes?
I can't help but feel selfish. I have a wonderful little girl that hugs me and calls me mommy. Why can't I be content with that? Why must I have this desire to harbor another life inside me and bring that life into the world? Why can't she be enough? Does that make me a terrible mother?
If I reflect I truly think she could be enough. If I closed this chapter and walked away for the sake of protecting my heart, my soul, my being...she could be enough. I could bask in her toddler laughter, first days of school, first crushes, learning to drive, graduating...I could be her mother, and only her mother. That would be enough. That would be ok.
I'm not ready for that yet though. I'm not ready to extinguish the flame I carry in my heart for another child. I'm not ready to get rid of the crib and the car seat. I'm not ready to exclaim that this is enough and I'm done. I want more.
Will that punish her? If I lose another, will she suffer for it? Is that selfish? Is that being a good mother? Will not trying again and not giving her a sibling be detrimental to her?
All these questions float around...unanswered.
So for now..."I’m alive."