We all have those moments in our life that create a distinct before and after. Before things are going one way and then BANG, tragedy strikes and you find yourself picking up the pieces in the after.
For me that moment was the death of my almost full term baby boy. The surprise of my life when I went in for a growth scan and heard the words no parent wants to hear, “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
In that instant I was no longer blissful and happy. I was no longer going to be welcoming a healthy baby boy into my life. That was all before, and now I was living in the after.
In the after you go into survival mode; your friends and family rush to your side to help you (I was lucky enough to have that). You go to grief counseling, and you write a blog, and you connect with lots of other parents who have lost their babies. You find yourself desperately trying to gather up the pieces of your shattered life and try and put yourself back together. In my after, putting myself back together was my entire mission.
But what happens after that? What happens after the after? When years have gone by and you don’t cry every day anymore? One year goes by, and then two, and then three, and then more. When you are lucky enough to be blessed with living children? When you move to a new town where people don’t know your story?
What happens when people no longer see you as someone who lost a baby? What happens when they look at you and just see a typical stay-at-home mom living in the suburbs?
It’s been almost 5 years since my son died and was born. I now have a new house, two new children, and a whole new life. To look at me most days you would never know I have survived such tragedy.
I find myself struggling with how to continue to honor my son while also embracing my two living daughters. Five years on, no one really wants to hear me continue to talk about my dead baby and how much I miss him. People expect me to have moved on by now. After the after, when crisis mode is over, people really do start to forget. And since I’ve moved to a new country, no one even knows about him until I tell them.
Five years on, I have a very good life and two beautiful little girls. Girls who one could argue I would not have if I hadn’t lost him. When I was pregnant with him we were so happy to finally be pregnant we had decided to be one and done. These exact girls, my girls, are the product of a very specific time and place, so when I wish he were here am I wishing them away? After all, a life with him would probably mean a different path after that.
I’m not trying to say that after the after isn’t good. When you are in the immediate after it’s an emotional roller coaster and each day you are just trying to survive. After that period of time is over you find your peace again, or at least you find moments of peace. It’s just that it’s hard to find your way forward without forsaking the memory of the one who is gone. I suppose that’s what I’m struggling with most.
After the after, my life has gone on. It’s very different than the life I imagined I would have, and it’s very much a work in progress.