October is infant loss awareness month and this time of year is always bittersweet for me because of the feelings it brings up. Around 5 years ago, we lost a pregnancy at 7 months and said goodbye to our baby boy Rowan Jacob. It was by far the saddest thing that our hearts have ever endured. Thankfully we were in the care of a great OBGYN specialist who connected us with a Perinatal Loss Counselor. We were thankful because not all OBGYNs and hospitals have Perinatal Loss Support and we would not have known about their services had it not been recommended. The Perinatal Loss Counselor supported us in every step of birthing and saying goodbye to our baby boy. This support was like having someone hold a bright candle to light a dark path for us.
In our first few counseling sessions we were encouraged to be open and honest with our feelings. We were supposed to allow ourselves time to sit in the discomfort of grief. It was going to be a process. Many things would unknown and we needed to take time to heal and process everything. It was hard to be open and honest about grief. My biggest hurdle to get over was not wanting to make people feel sad. I knew people wanted to offer support, so I wanted to be honest in order allow their healing compassion to lift me up. I had to find a new balance of when I felt it was safe to share my feelings. I didn’t want to be silent because I didn’t want to isolate myself or for others around me who experienced loss to feel like they couldn’t share. I felt like somehow sharing my feelings was paving a path for others to share too. I know that being honest and open with my feelings helped me move through my grief faster. I have immense gratitude for all the people who have opened their hearts to listen to my story, it has helped me heal and surrounded me with love. The act of recognizing our feelings and getting support from others is extremely powerful!
For me personally, I knew I had to go deep and figure out how to reach my internal strength if I was going to survive this painful tragedy. Life had to move on. We had a beautiful 3 year old girl at the time that I had to be present for. I found that writing became a safe place and profound release of grief for me. I started a private online blog and anytime I started feeling painful emotions or fear and anxiety I would write. Writing connected me more to my spirit and showed me how strong and beautiful I was. I eventually knew through writing that everything was going to be ok as long as I took the time to be still and listen to my heart. All of this writing has grown into a healing book that shares more personal details of our story of infant loss. This year I will be self-publishing “Be Still My Grieving Heart” on Rowan’s birthday in memory of him.
Many years ago I wrote a letter from my son like he was talking to me. This was a great exercise for me to connect with him. He told me in the letter that he loved me and that I was the best mom to him and even though our time together was short, it was special. It was then that I had an awakening: “I honor and love him by loving myself”. I don’t know the answers to many questions about the world but I know as a truth in my heart that there is sacred bond between a mother and child. Rowan chose me to be his mother and he has taught me so much. He was brilliant, perfect and full of love. Even though he is not physically with me, I know he’s connected to me through love. I like to imagine that his heart feels the most happiness by knowing that his mommy is strong and healthy.
The experience of loss has helped me grow into a stronger more compassionate person. It forced me to put myself first and unconditionally love myself to heal. I would never want this to happen again but I can find peace holding onto the gifts that our baby has given me and my family. For those who have had a miscarriage or lost a baby, I want to express how much I understand your pain and I hope for healing and love to come to you and your family. I want people to know that you aren’t alone, grieving is a tough journey but it is possible to hold on to the gifts in life while your heart heals. “A broken heart lets the light shine in… a light to find the love we still have in our lives.”
Feature Image: I wanted to share a little about the family picture. It was taken by a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. They are an organization of professional photographers across the country that donate their time to provide free photographs for those who experience infant loss. It still brings me to tears knowing that their kindness and service to others gives families something special to remember their baby and cherish during the healing process.