After Oliver died we received lots of messages. They were messages we needed to hear, even if I was not able to actually cope or reply yet. Messages from friends, and friends of friends and even family, telling me their story of loss.
Some had lost babies as far along as Oliver was, at 31 weeks. Some were misscarriages. Some were full term. It doesn't actually matter how far along your baby was when he or she died, what hurts and what matters is that the baby was wanted. Loved. Needed.
What surprised me the most, wasn't the large number of women I knew with a loss story, it was the women I knew fairly well, whose loss story I didn't know. Finding out that the worst thing that has ever happened to you happened to someone else too is horrifying. It is hard to imagine this friend or family member going through the pain you are experiencing, and even harder to know that at that moment, you know what they needed and you didn't get it then. Maybe you even said one if those things, like "you are young you can have more" or "at least you weren't far along" or something else that you meant to be comforting that stung. And now all of a sudden here you are either finding out or understanding for the first time and the pain of all those babies hits too.
They are just like Oliver. Their moms loved them. Anticipated them. Hoped for them. You think of the numbers, 1 in 180 and think if how many people you know. And then you think if how many more there will be. How many young girls will grow up awaiting motherhood, only to find out they get the pain and grief of loss instead.
It is overwhelming at a time when life is overwhelming.
And then you see the other side. The mothers with beautiful families. And you realize that you didn't know they lost a baby because it stopped consuming their life. That they built a family in spite of their loss. And every single woman I know who lost a baby and went on to have more children, has a beautiful relationship with her child or children.
Losing a baby is like losing a limb. It never grows back. It can't be replaced. But one day you learn to walk again, in a new way. Getting the messages from all those women was like seeing someone walk with a prosthetic leg and realizing that someday you can walk too.
Knowing those women had other children, and were happy again made me feel like it was OK to hope for a day when I would feel that way.
You never get over something like the loss of a child, but you can't let it hold you back forever. You just have to know that you are stronger and more loving for the love you knew for your baby and you just have to live that much fiercer and that much more.
That is why I write this blog. For the moms who are sitting in their room recovering from a delivery that broke their heart. Joining the worst club. Feeling their heart break every minute.
It won't end. But it will get bearable. And you are not alone.