The day before our life changed and we heard the news
It was an out of body experience, and to this day when I close my eyes I relive the very moment our lives changed forever.
Allow me to rewind our story to the beginning (well almost the beginning). My husband James and I both shared a sense of adventure and a love of travel. However, when we were first struggling with infertility we stopped making major travel plans because we always said “what if”.... what if I am due then? Would I want to travel that far? Is that a good location to take a baby?
With the realization that not everything can be planned we eventually decided on a welcomed distraction, a dream vacation to Bora Bora and a few other Islands in French Polynesia. We were well in our second trimester so we had the “all clear” from our medical team, having heard his heartbeat many times including the day before we left.
In the middle of our trip, although I couldn’t put my finger on it, I just didn’t feel right. The doctor later attributed this to mothers’ intuition. We went to see a doctor at the clinic on the island. To this day I can still hear the sounds of the monitors in the clinic, I can still see my husband's face filled with worry, grief and sadness and I can still see the doctor in his wrinkled lab coat mouthing the words, “I am sorry the baby is gone.” In that moment I could neither hear nor comprehend the words he was saying. The next week was a blur.
Once I was physically healed, we traveled back home and I could finally begin my mourning process but honestly I didn’t know where to begin. So I started by writing down all of my questions, feelings, and thoughts. Looking back at my journals I have been able to see in retrospective what helped me during the healing process. It is my fervent hope that reading this list will help you or your loved one heal from their pregnancy loss.
- Give yourself time: there is no expiration date on grief, it takes time. Weeks, months, years. If you share my belief then know you are never truely alone. My little angels are always with me and they helped me transform pain into purpose by starting our nonprofit Operation Little Angel 101: Hope After Loss.
- Take care of your body! The physical healing from going into labor takes time. Be kind to yourself: Rest, eat well and drink plenty of water. Even though I am a Dietitian by trade and I understand the importance of proper nutrition for healing there were still moments I didn’t want to eat. I would leave healthy snacks in my purse and set phone reminders to make it easier to remember in the beginning.
- Ask for support. It’s okay to not be okay. It may be a relief to talk to others whether family, friends or professionals. Family and friends may not know the correct things to say, so remind them you just want a listening ear for now. It took me awhile to tell friends what we were going through. Turns out I wasn’t alone they say yo to 43% of women don’t share their story. Once I did start to open up I not only realized the support I had but also I had friends who went through similar experiences.
- Stay Connected. It's very easy to slip away and disconnect from the world and your normal routines. Start with something small, a morning workout, mediation, or coffee at your favorite coffee shop and slowly build from there. Each week I would add one thing back from my normal routine, the slow process of adding a workout or book club made it easier to stick with the routine.
- Do something relaxing or fun with your partner. Remember they are hurting too. Finding time to connect with one another is invaluable. James and I started having our weekly dates and tried to pick activities vs dinners when I wasn’t ready to fully open up. My favorite was long hikes in the mountains.