“It’s okay to say you’re not okay.
My first daughter was stillborn at 36 weeks. I had lost movement so we went to the hospital and found out there was no heartbeat. They did not find a knot in the cord or the cord wrapped around her neck, so it was just classified as unexplainable. We had no understanding for what happened. I went through a full labour and then everything that comes with it afterwards, like my milk coming in, recovery from my delivery and then grief on top of all of that.
And then we got pregnant six months later so I had to navigate pregnancy at the same time I was grieving. The first hundred days after my loss was the most challenging thing in the world. I was showing up places where people had seen me when I was pregnant. I was the giant elephant in the room because there was no baby. People would be like, ‘omg you had your baby, how old is it now?’ And it’s like, ‘no, she died.’ To this day, my postpartum and grief are very intertwined. My loss is at the extreme end of things being full term, but I often think about these dates and milestones for women who have had any sense of loss whether it is early or late. It often affects people the same.
I learned from being part of a grief group that someone who had a loss between eight to ten weeks also had the same feelings and emotions that I did but often felt invalidated because I actually had the baby and they didn’t. I just thought to myself there is no comparison here, grief is grief.
I am a very proactive person. After my loss, I threw myself into finding support whether it was my osteopath, my naturopath, my GP, my OB, my massage therapist. I built this team of people around me because I was determined to get myself back on track. I needed to balance my hormones. I attended a grief group for infancy loss.
The intertwining with grief and postpartum is just awful. My biggest takeaway was in the fourth week postpartum when I called my therapist - I was so sleep deprived and I felt like I wasn’t 100% there for my second baby. I wanted to love her but I was also feeling guilty for moving on from my first. For an entire year my mind revolved around thinking about my first baby and honouring her, and then all of a sudden there is this human who is here, who needs me and I feel guilty.
You can feel sad and happy at the same time and I think as humans we classify our emotions as one or the other. We don’t create space for happiness and sadness to live together, but they can, and I think once I started to recognize and honour that, I changed my thinking. I am happy right now, I am sad right now, I am anxious right now but if you name it and give it space, you immediately feel better.”