Guest Post: The Things I Learned Through Loss
By: Jennifer Coons, owner and doula at Zen Beginning Birth Services (Jacksonville, FL).
November 17, 2012 is a day that is forever etched in my mind. I had arrived back to Jacksonville, FL from Chicago the night prior and had a busy day the next morning. My husband was underway, so that meant I had to pick up our dogs from boarding. I hopped in the shower that morning and had cramping and some bright orange bleeding. Immediately, my heart sank, I called my mom who is a nurse and she assured me that everything would be okay. My gut told me something wasn’t right, so I went to the nearest hospital. They confirmed my greatest fear, that I was losing our baby. I will forever remember that emptiness inside of my heart. Our baby was gone and so were all of our hopes and dreams for that little person. We would never be able to see what he looked like, that first smile, or hear his first word. It was all wiped away in an instant.
I remember the first person outside of my mother and sister who I spoke to. It was my husband’s command Ombudsman and we had only just met. I just sobbed as she consoled me and she shared her loss story, tears were shed on both of our parts. She led me to realize that it was okay to speak about our loss and that our baby mattered, no matter how small. I will forever be indebted to this woman because she gave me the confidence to give our baby a voice. Since our miscarriage in 2012, I have had several losses since, here is what I’ve learned from them:
Every baby matters. It doesn’t matter if you were 4 weeks or 9 months, a loss is a loss. Not only are you physically losing your child, you are losing every hope and dream that you’ve had for them. Don’t ever, even for a second think that your loss isn’t as important as someone who was further along. Say it with me now, MY BABY MATTERS.
It’s okay to cry. Scream, cry, kick, or break something if you need to. What happened to you is fucking heart wrenching and unfair. If breaking something or yelling at the top of your lungs makes you feel human again, ever for a second, do it. Cry when you want to, laugh when you need to, and don’t listen to those who say “move on”. You will never move on, and that’s okay.
Your partner lost a baby too. I will admit, this one was really hard for me. I spent the majority of my time grieving alone, even though my husband was right there. I treated our loss as if I was the only one who lost a child. I mean, I was going through the miscarriage, not him, right? Wrong. It took weeks for me to realize that he too was just as heartbroken as I was. He had special dreams and plans for our baby just as much as I did. It would take me weeks to eventually talk about OUR loss with him. I wish I could go back in time and support him just like he supported me. Take it from me, depend on your partner, don’t shy away and suffer alone. You two will get through this, together.
Do something. Get something made for your baby, plant a tree, write a letter, release a balloon. Do something. I had gotten a special butterfly wind chime for our first loss, it was so amazing hearing the sound as the wind blew. Every time I heard the chimes, it made me feel like our baby was with us. Now, every time I hear wind chimes it makes me think of him. When you are ready, memorialize your little one. It will bring comfort.
There is always a rainbow after a storm. I know that you are a mess right now, and that is okay. Be a mess as long as you need to be. Just remember, there is always some light at the end of the tunnel and you won’t be broken forever. You will be forever changed, but not broken. You will get through this.
Jennifer has also shared a list of pregnancy and infant loss resources on her own blog (linked here) for those who have or are also being impacted by loss.
If you're in the Capital Region and in need of bereavement support, please reach out—you don't have to do this alone.