How many children do you have?
It’s the question I cringe at every time those words leave an unknowing stranger’s mouth. There is always a pregnant pause. And a quizzical look from the person asking because really ‘why in the world is this question taking so long for her to answer?’ It’s incredible how much emotion 6 little words can stir up in a human being.
But, if you’ve ever suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, child loss, or are facing the challenges of infertility you know exactly how it feels.
In my heart of hearts I want to tell them about her. I want to share her without sympathetic stares or uncomfortable silences. I want to tell them about the amazing first daughter we loved and lost when I was 20 weeks pregnant. The child who changed me. The baby girl who taught me important lessons in grief, life, death, inspiration, sadness, joy, isolation, connection. The one who led me to passion and discovery.
Bella Rose is my first daughter, I usually whisper silently to myself. And then follow audibly with, “I have one amazing 19 month old daughter Brielle, who lights up our life.”
And then come the waves of guilt that wash over me drowning me in the thoughts that I’m leaving our first born behind. The waves crash over me stressing: She’s forgotten. She’s unloved. She’s unimportant. She’s been washed away.
Society doesn’t really make room for dead children in daily conversation. It hurts my soul sometimes knowing that.
I thought it would get better after Brielle. The tides would shift and change and lessen the pain. But, even after the birth of our 2nd healthy rainbow baby the grief, guilt, and loneliness still remain present because the most innocent of questions can lead way to reminders of what will always be missing from our life.
Sometimes the isolation of loss, the definition of family, the desire for a child, the perspectives of outsiders, and finding a balance between sharing and over sharing our history can be overwhelming for the mind to process. It feels paralyzing at times. But somehow life flows on and we stay afloat. It’s amazing there are so many of us who have experienced child loss or infertility challenges who still stand strong, hopeful, and inspired.
It’s within ourselves to find ways to continue connecting with others and living fully in the face of loss and disappointment. Otherwise we’d simply be swallowed whole by the waves of guilt and sadness.
Fortunately there is a new online safe haven launching this week. A place to read stories from others who are riding these waves too, and it makes my heart happy to be a part of it. Still Standing is an online magazine inspiring hope and healing in the face of loss and infertility. It’s a place to embrace life again and learn that you’re not alone in your feelings.
I’m so honored to have been asked by editor Fran of Small Bird Studios to be a monthly contributor for Still Standing Magazine. I’ll be writing articles that share our experience, allow Bella’s legacy to live on, and encourage using photography as tool to aid in healing and living fully.
There are 16 other diverse, inspirational, beautiful women who will also be contributing to the magazine. I do hope you’ll follow along as we prepare to launch on May 5th! Meet all of the Still Standing contributors HERE, or follow along with the magazine on FACEBOOK. And if you are new to me, to Bella, and to my little corner of cyberspace here, I encourage you to go now and read our angel Bella’s beautiful story right HERE.
Let’s all stand united, strong, and connected even in the face of miscarriage, stillbirth, child loss, and infertility.