October 15th. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The first time I wrote about losing a baby, I received emails and messages from friends and strangers sharing their losses with me. I had no idea so many other women had lost babies. All of our stories were different, but the one thing we all wanted to hear was that we were not alone. Losing a baby isn’t an easy subject to write about. I had doubts about sharing my story. But here I am today, with an extremely heavy heart, writing about losing my second baby, Beckett, just four months ago.
Rewind to June 17th. It was a great day because it was my birthday! Thirty-four was going to be a big year for me. I was going to have five kids, and we were excited it was a boy! I knew firsthand how fragile a tiny life is, but we sailed through the first trimester, and our son passed all his tests. With a forced confidence, I convinced myself everything was going to be okay. Scheduling an appointment on my birthday was a coincidence but turned into an exciting way to celebrate the big day. The best birthday present would be hearing my sweet baby boy’s heartbeat… but then it wasn’t there.
How could this be happening again?
He already had a name. The tests said everything was fine. The statistics were in my favor. What went wrong? What was going on? Unfortunately, none of my questions changed anything. There I was, waiting for another still ultrasound to confirm what we already knew had happened. Our baby was gone. Summer hadn’t even started yet, and now we were going to face another quiet delivery, another heartbreak, and another baby to bury.
Enter all the guilt.
I struggled with this guilt three years ago with my first loss. Back then I was trying to put my makeup back on, a metaphor for feeling like I was moving on without my daughter. Now the guilt came from not wanting to take my makeup off, not wanting to lose months of my life in the darkest places of grief again. Losing my daughter three years ago was the hardest thing I had ever gone though. I cried and cried my way through those heartbroken months. At the time it was what I needed; it’s what got me to the place I am today. But looking back, my children missed out on that entire winter. We didn’t play in the snow until we were frozen. We didn’t sip on hot chocolate. The winter was lost to grief. I didn’t want to put my family through that again. My children were older and would remember more. I knew something had to be different this time.
So I grieved with my makeup on.
This was hard. Grieving as I intentionally let my life move forward was hard. It didn’t feel right. Buying a pool, researching what chemicals to use, making deck arrangements, and getting a golden summer tan weren’t in the “grieving handbook” I wrote in my head. Losing a baby one day and then grocery shopping the next just didn’t seem right. Gosh, being a mom is hard. We can’t always take days, weeks, and months off from life. We have husbands that have deadlines to meet, kids that need to get to sports, carpools to drive, mouths to feed, kids to tuck in. It was an intentional decision I was going to need to make. So I put my makeup on and let my life move forward in the rawest place of heartache.
I didn’t go through it alone.
Despite the heartache and loss, I was surrounded by people that loved me. I needed my mom to come over and straighten the house. I needed my friends to bring dinner and a hug. I needed my sister to take over for a week. I needed my niece to volunteer to play with the kids. I needed my husband to give me his shoulder at the end of the day and tell me it was going to be okay.
It will be okay.
If, like me, you unwillingly belong to this unnamed sorority of women who have grieved the loss of a baby, please know, my heart hurts for you. I remember those days of feeling like it would never get better, like life would never move on. The days where tears flowed more than smiles, and your pillow felt like your best friend. It might not seem like it right now, but it will be okay. Your baby can change you forever. He can make you a better person, a more caring mom, a more compassionate friend, a better listener, and a confidant to those who have lost like you.
Sometimes life doesn’t give us a choice about taking time off. Put your makeup on or leave it off. Give yourself permission to grieve however you need to grieve.