January 14, 2013 ~ Clinging in the Pit
If you are not new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?
First of all, I really want to reiterate how sudden it was for us. Cora was perfectly healthy. Everything at the ultrasounds looked great, and we always had really great prenatal appointments. I had worried about miscarriage at the beginning, but after having such a great mid-pregnancy ultrasound (and I asked a LOT of questions and made the tech show me everything), I figured we were in the clear. I didn’t know stillbirths still happened as often as they do. So when I woke up that morning and couldn’t get her to respond, even though I knew in my heart what the answer must be, I had convinced myself it couldn’t happen. It took a while for me to be able to get into my doctor and a while longer waiting for them to have an open moment where they could take me back. All that time, I had that dread deep down, but I had been hoping I was wrong.
Dr. B. tried the find the heartbeat on doppler first, and I was already crying when he switched to the ultrasound. He said something about only miracle workers being able to get a heartbeat on every try, but at 38 weeks I knew that just about the only reason to not find a heartbeat is because there isn’t one. Even so, I can’t really describe what it felt like to hear “I’m sorry, there’s her heart, and it isn’t beating.” I made a sort of strangled scream sound that I’ve never heard anywhere else, which quickly turned into sobbing.
It’s interesting to be asked to describe the times right after, because I quite honestly don’t remember much. I had to turn my brain off. I couldn’t allow myself to think because the thoughts were so suffocatingly painful. I spent a lot of time just reminding myself to breathe. Most of it, though, is just a fog. I know that I was living, but I wasn’t really alive. I was more like a puppet, going through the motions and only existing.
I also spent a lot of time angry at myself that I just couldn’t go back to normal. Holding the lifeless body of your baby completely changes you though, and it took me a while to realize that I couldn’t ever be the person I was before anymore.
But slowly and surely something happened. I started to come out of the fog. I started really engage in my life again. I could smile without feeling guilty. I could laugh. Most of all, though, I appreciated every moment. I understood how fast it could all end, so every moment was a miracle.
Thankfully, while the fog is gone, the gratitude is not. Cora Rei means “heart full of gratitude.” That seems to have been her gift to me.