Her Story: Are we ever the same after baby loss?
There are a handful of moments in life that we can really claim to be life-changing. Those sliding doors experiences when you know, even in that instant, that you will never really be the same again.
Happily, most of those moments are positive, wonderful experiences. The moment I met my husband on a sunny London street en route to our first (blind) date. Life changed. The moment I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Life changed.
However, for me and for many women, my life also changed forever when I lost a baby, on holiday in France two years ago.
I was fortunate that it was within the early weeks, but in truth, this is only relatively fortunate. Because, as any woman that has lost a baby knows, regardless of the number of weeks, you are physically, emotionally and spiritually bound up with that baby the moment you know of their existence.
The whys and hows of miscarriage are unique to everyone, and I don't find dwelling on the details healthy for me. But the change in the person I was and am today, I feel is important to share here.
In the weeks and months that followed, I simply became a shell of me. Reluctant to tell many people about my loss, I just shut down. The best way I can describe it is to say I became paper-thin and the slightest thing could and did tear that paper to shreds.
Happy baby news from the dearest of friends left me in torment, and I even left my job because the women who had shown up for the interview months beforehand simply did not exist anymore.
Gradually sharing with friends and family helped, and the advice from a close friend who had suffered multiple losses really got me through. She said: "This is not it for you, this is not where your story ends".
And she was right... in time the pain did go. Though in truth it was only the arrival of my beautiful baby boy that really healed me completely.
As I type, while bouncing my 8-month-old son, I feel completely certain that he was the baby I was meant to have. And while I do not subscribe to the 'Isn't Mother Nature kind' approach to miscarriage, I do firmly believe that there are things that happen in life for reasons that we can never fully understand. I am grateful that I have made peace with that fact.
As with all of life's more painful experiences, this episode taught me so much. I now feel so much more appreciative of everything I do have, and I believe it has made me a more compassionate person. I have cried for and with many friends who have lost babies since, and I like to think my openness has in someway helped some of them.
So, this Baby Loss Awareness Week, I am not really thinking of the baby I lost, as for me personally, that pales into insignificance when compared to the baby I have gained. Instead, I am simply marking the loss I experienced and the impact it had on me, as well as the loss of the many millions of mothers who have felt the same.
As time goes by, the moment remains life-altering. But, following the advice of my dear friend, I have learned to see it as just a chapter of my story, not the punchline.