Who doesn’t want a fairytale?! When we first find out we are pregnant we imagine the journey. It is one of glowing, and growing. We put together a beautiful nursery and a calm, yet perfect, birth plan. We expect a happily ever after.
Things don’t always go as we plan. Some suffer from terrible morning sickness, others from any myriad of conditions that can affect pregnant women. Then there are the losses of our precious babies.
Sometimes your loss happens before it begins. We struggle with getting pregnant or staying pregnant. We endure tests and procedures. Needle pokes and medication regamins and in the end we still walk away with an empty womb and aching arms.
Maybe your loss happens very early on. We go to the doctor anticipating our first peek only to find out our baby is no longer growing. For some a loss happens later along the way. Maybe you have gotten a fatal diagnosis at your 20 week ultrasound. Going home to decide where to go with your pregnancy.
Maybe your baby arrived too early. Even if you baby survives the first few days, navigating the process of a NICU baby is extremely difficult. It has lasting effects on your idea of pregnancy and motherhood. Whether your baby survives or is too small to, mom goes home empty handed (at least for a while).
Maybe your past those “risky” parts. You are well into your 3rd trimester. You are playing with your baby as he kicks through your growing belly. Then one day baby isn’t moving like normal. You visit to the hospital. You listen to the other babies cry while pleading with your baby to. You leave with an empty belly and empty arms.
Maybe you find out at birth that your baby is sick or has a congenital or genetic condition. Your whole world is changed. You don’t get to hold your baby like you thought you would. You spend time talking to doctors and watching you baby get poked and tested. You listen to diagnosis’s and life expectations and futures that might not be. You might go home with empty arms or you might go home with a baby in one arm and equipment, paperwork, appointment lists, and expectations in another. Each illness you worry that this could be the one that can’t be fixed.
Or maybe you brought your baby home. He was healthy and thriving. Then one day they are gone. They go to sleep and don’t wake up. Or maybe there was a missed medical diagnosis or a tragic situation. One day you return to the hospital only to leave alone.
In any of these, our dreams of “Happily Ever After” disappear. Evaporate! No first steps. No first day of school. No graduation. No sports or dance. The loss of our “happily ever after” becomes a secondary loss to the original loss of our babies. It simply becomes our “once upon a time”.
I loved my little world where everything appeared perfect. I loved the world of writing happy memories in a baby book. When Clara died I was unprepared for her loss and even less for the secondary loss. I didn’t realize just how many babies didn’t make it to their first birthday. So many baby books left unfinished.
Today instead of having a baby book full of memories it is has less than 10 pages filled. Many pages have a line or two filled in and dozens more that will never be written. On the shelf with her baby book sits 3 other books completely filled. The thing is they aren’t of the memories I dreamed of writing. They are filled with three years of #CaptureYourGrief projects. They are my “once upon a time” books. Once upon a time I held this baby in my arms.
In a good way the books remind me that there are no happily forever afters but the once upon a times can be beautiful too. The journey, the people along the way, those are the things I want to remember. It reminds me that maybe it isn’t always about the happy ending, maybe it is about the story. A story that brings comfort to others. One that reminds them they aren’t alone. Their fears are real. Their dreams are missing. But their children will never be forgotten.