As I write this, I’m a mom of 3 children, one teenage son aged 16 and two beautiful souls who didn’t make it to be with us. I had my first miscarriage late 2019 and my second miscarriage earlier in March 2021.
As I write this, I’m in the week of our ‘would’ve been’ due date. My head is filled with what we would’ve been doing, the baby bag we would’ve been packing and the nursery we would’ve been doing final touches on. As much as I try to escape these wishful thoughts, I’m overcome by them, confined to pajamas and work from bed days and at times even comforted by these thoughts.
There is a longing and a sadness that is hard to define when you lose a child so early on. You don’t just lose a baby, you lose all the, ‘what would’ve been’ things and the, ‘could’ve been’ moments too. You mourn the loss of all of these things as well as the loss of a child.
Like many moms who've lost in this way, I’ve struggled with certain thoughts - Why did this happen to me? Did I wait too long to try after my first? What if I never get the chance again?
I have felt betrayed by my body, consumed with sadness, scared to try again, jealous of other moms, ashamed that I failed, and at times, just plain heartbroken.
At the same time, I also can’t stop window shopping for baby clothes online, staring at new moms & new babies on Instagram, oohing and ahhing when someone with a pram goes by and adding to my list of baby names.
I have had all the emotions, all the time. I’m feeling all the feelings.
When you lose a baby early on in your pregnancy, most people wouldn't have known about it. It feels very isolating. It’s hard to share and find support because the first thing people will learn about it is not the joy and excitement, but the sad news. I’ve gone on a journey of dealing with my loss - sharing and getting support has made all the difference for me in this journey.
Dealing with loss
I am not an expert on loss or losing a child. I am just a mother, going through loss and trying to find my way. What has worked for others, didn’t always work for me. All I can do is find my own journey to closure and share my experience in the hope that someone else can find their way too.
It takes time
I am not a very patient person so the realisation that this is a process did not come very naturally to me.
I found it hard sometimes to even give myself the space or the right to feel sad. Am I allowed to be this sad? Shouldn’t I be over this already? Shouldn’t I be feeling ready to try again by now?
Working through all of this, feeling ready to share and going on this journey of healing is important - learning to take my time and be kind to myself was my first big step. It’s a process.
Feel everything, you do have the right to
You have lost something very dear to you. You can be sad. You can cry. You can take your time to heal. You can be as private or as open as you feel you want to be. You don’t need to be anything. Everything you are feeling is OK. Giving myself the right to feel everything I needed to was a big moment for me and my healing.
Yes, it's ok to still be sad. There is no right time and no ‘getting over it’. You can try again or not try again, until you’re ready - listen to yourself.
Share in the experience
There are so many ways to share in the experience of child loss. Talk with your partner, reach out to loved ones, read articles and share in the experience of others, join a support group - whatever is comfortable to you, do that. I felt that sharing the experience in some way really helped me realise that what I was feeling was the same for so many others. Honestly, I didn’t even know it happens to so many women. It helped me cope with what I was feeling and helped me deal with particularly difficult feelings I was and still am going through.
It can be very helpful to do something to celebrate, remember and get closure. I didn’t think of this as a helpful solution until I had read some other women's stories about it.
- I’ve gotten tattoos to remember my babies - all the important dates for all 3 of my children. Now I carry them with me, always.
- We celebrated what would’ve been our due date week. Dinner as a family at our favourite restaurant and did something special to mark the day.
- As we don’t really have anything to remember our babies by, other than maybe one ultrasound picture each, we decided to buy something to put into a treasure box for both of them. A keepsake piece that helps us make it more real and helps us get some closure.
- I’ve decided that I want to name my babies. When I think back about the experience or think about them in my private thoughts, I want to call them by name. They were mine, we shared a special bond and this sweet little exercise was a big step in my closure.
Partner Support: Together can also be apart
I’m always reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s quote and hold it dear, “For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow”. You and your partner stand apart, that's how you grow together, that’s how you hold your temple up.
My partner is dealing with this differently to me. I struggled with that at first.
If you are going through this with someone, remember each person can feel their own feelings. Grief happens differently for all. But be honest about what you’re feeling and support each other, even if it's in different ways. This helped me reach out for what I needed and get support the way I needed it.
Find your support network
- If you are struggling and feeling like you need support, don’t be ashamed to do this. Reach out for help, see a therapist or counsellor, join a community or find a support group to help you with some coping strategies and support - you are not alone!
- Talk about it at This Mum Runs. We are here to not just support each other in our running journey but in our journey as women. We can and should have these important conversations in our community. If you would like to share your story, do it! Feel like joining an online group call to talk and share experiences like this? Let us know! Post your own story, all stories are powerful stories! We are here for you and welcome sharing the stories and lives of women in our community.
- Need to find support and trusted resources? If you want to find resources but aren’t sure where to start, here is a helpful resource we recommend: https://babyloss-awareness.org/organisations/
The loss of a baby is something many of us have gone through. Whether it was your choice or not, losing a child is never easy.
Take what you need. Be kind to yourself. Know that there are others out there - you are not alone, you don’t have to go through this alone.
To all our babies, gone but never ever forgotten, we hold you all in our hearts, always.
Mandy September-Benini (she/her)
This Mum Runs Communities Manager
Women empowerment warrior, supporting and building women communities online across the world, dinner party enthusiast, lover of storytelling, mama, wife and your karaoke partner if you ever need it.