It’s almost that time, to pass another milestone feeling 1000% empty inside. Steven and I are coming up to our daughter Eden’s first birthday. I’ve thought long and hard at all we’ve been through and decided now would be a good time to do some reflecting. To look back at our journey so far and wince and laugh and cry all while writing this for you to read.
When Steve and I first told friends and family we were expecting, everyone was ecstatic for us. We were ecstatic. We got congratulations, gifts and everyone’s opinion on how to parent a newborn; but when we lost Eden…everybody had disappeared. It took us both a long time and a lot of help from our psychologist to understand what the fuck was actually happening. Famous words that our Godsend psychologist said will always stick with me, “if someone has let you both down after all you’ve been through and even after you’ve tried to open up to them, then you’ve learnt a valuable lesson in now knowing that they are not the people to confide in”. Those words resonated with me and I’m sorry we both had to find out the hard way that three quarters of our family and friends were now in that category. How can people be there for the good and abdandon us during the bad? I’ll never know.
Something that’s altered since our loss would be how our values and morals have changed, especially regarding our relationships with others. Things we used to tolerate and were blinded by we no longer stand for. We don’t allow people picking and choosing the times in which they are in our lives or allow people of the titles “family” and “friends” if they turn and ran when we needed them most. What I do love though, and the way I have differentiated everyone I know now is how they have treated us since our loss. I am forever in awe at the people who message me randomly or on milestone days to say they are thinking of my family and I, those who send me pictures of butterflies (our representation of Eden), those who say her name with no indifference, who proudly have her photos around and those who still call Steve and I “Mum” and “Dad”. There’s a minority of people out there who know Steve and I so well that just the look on our faces or the sound of our voices can give us away, they are the people I am forever indebted too. Those who continually reach out to us are the ones I pledge my loyalty and love too.
A huge obstacle that we have had to combat, and still struggle with often is that everyone around us is moving on with their life and getting pregnant themselves. It’s an amazing time and parts of both Steve and I are always happy for these people we love and care about so much, although mentally we then have to fight our own inner demons who never forget to remind us that we don’t have Eden here (who would now be 6 months old), what we are missing out on and that currently after over seven months into trying we are yet to conceive. My physical problems have left me with the internal organs of a fifty-five year old and I struggle day in and day out, forever feeling guilty that I can not help make us the parents we wish to be. The reality of IVF is getting closer and honestly, I’m scared. I question “why is this happening to me? To us?”. I urge people to take into consideration the people you know with fertility issues or even better, those you don’t know about. Be tactful and graceful, always. I have been lucky enough to find out from a few friends before they announced their pregnancy on social media and it helped with my grieving dramatically, a simple message is all it takes. I often question if people realize that the little things in pregnancy that bother them like a sore back, swollen feet, or that your now a couple of days overdue is nothing to complain about. I would kill to have all that and at the end of the day have a healthy, living baby.
Steven and I had to tolerate a lot of terrible communication during our loss too. We had so many people tell us “you’ll have more kids”, “you’re only young yet”, “sucks yous had that miscarriage” and then when we decided to start trying again we were told “don’t stress and you’ll get pregnant faster” and that’s only the beginning. It still amazes me that billions of people have access to Google but still managed to say such idiotic things. Steven and I actively tried to conceive, it wasn’t an oops, I forgot the pill story. I have fertility issues. If you know or love and care about someone who does have fertility issues or has suffered a loss then I recommend searching the web if you’re unsure of what to do or say, when couples have these issues they are relying on your support through words. So think before you speak.
The scariest thing since loosing Eden was if we were going to loose each other too. Over 70% of marriages end in divorce after the loss of a child and as much as we share our love for each other, there have been days when we’ve walked out on each other and questioned if our marriage could stand the test of time. It is exhausting at times and neither of us grieve the same or know what day the other might be having. Personally, I have good days, moderate days and black out days. Good days are exactly that, good. I can smile, laugh and hear people’s stories and even engage in idle chit chat about their children who don’t eat or sleep how they want them too. Moderate days are the days when I’m barely tolerable of anything. Black out days…they are the days I don’t leave bed, I howl and contemplate suicide. Black out days are rare but they do happen. For a long time Steven didn’t say much about his grieving and it worried me. He had to learn how to open up after years of having his feelings neglected and it was incredibly hard to watch. The people he desperately wanted to be there had vanished and I watched him crumble under what would have been the weight of the world. Sometimes your significant other isn’t enough support and I understand that. I wish child loss wasn’t a taboo topic.
A very overwhelming aspect of grief that we had to deal with was that this is our life. Everyday, we live a true fucking nightmare…we don’t get to wake up and say it was just a dream or laugh it off. It’s something that doesn’t leave no matter how hard others try to make it disappear. If others had accepted that we lost our daughter and treated us like a family and parents then maybe we would have dealt with our loss differently, better even. Steven and I had to do the impossible, we had to accept that this is our life now. Everything I’ve written about, we’ve had to come to terms with. Just before we lost Eden, I heard of two couples of a close friend that had lost their children at roughly the same gestation as I was. It hit so close to home, I cried for them and rubbed my belly thinking what a blessing I had to be able to do this. Then it happened to us. I was five months pregnant – no amount of news coverage, prenatal reading or doctors give you the preparation you need to go through this. You are a first time parent to a deceased child and people think it’s easier to ignore it…it’s not.
We’ve always tried to look for the silver lining and at times it can be hard. Even though Steve and I lost Eden, we’ve seen how others now hug their kids a little tighter and give them a little more time when we’re around. We know that this experience will make us better parents (and so clingy to our poor kids) and that if we can get through this then we are unstoppable as a couple and family.