Time is a funny thing. When things are going well and life is busy, days feel like minutes, weeks feel like hours. Before you know it, it’s Christmas and you’re saying things like ‘where did the year go’ to relatives you haven’t managed to catch up with since the year before.
However when things aren’t going according to plan or you’re anticipating a long awaited event, time feels like it’s at a standstill. Four years ago, that’s how life felt for me. 2012 was an awful year in my family: we experienced cancer, injuries and job losses and I personally went through both a stillbirth and a miscarriage. To say that we yearned for the end of that year is an understatement.
Fast forward four years though, and 2016 has flown by. I was blessed with my second beautiful daughter last month and when Christmas sneaks up on us in eight short weeks, I’ll be pouring my bubbles and saying ‘the year has flown by’ with a mixture of pleasure and a tinge of sadness that my babies are another year older.
The other benefit of time is its healing properties. Four years ago, I penned an article about my stillbirth experience. I remember the tears streaming down my face as I described my still raw feelings and the decision we had made to terminate our baby at 21 weeks. I shared it with my husband however beyond that, I wasn’t ready for my story to be told. I saved the article in a hidden folder on my computer and vowed to come back to it one day.
Time marched on. After we experienced a miscarriage in late 2012 at 11 weeks, we got pregnant again in early 2013. This time we were lucky and delivered a healthy baby girl in November that year.
After the fog of the first year passed, and I went back to work and got on with raising a toddler, I started to process my experiences of 2012. I realised that I could think about our lost babies and talk about them with friends and other people who had experienced loss and the tears weren’t as close to the surface as they used to be.
Knowing that I felt less broken, I wanted to reassure other women who had experienced loss that they will one day feel almost normal. Last year, on the anniversary of our first loss, I wrote an article for Mamamia as a tribute to how far we had come. ‘A letter to me three years ago: I’m writing to tell you it gets better‘ helped me start to open up about my experience however I was still too scared to add my name to the story so chose to write it anonymously.
However over a year later, I feel ready to own my experience. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and I was asked to write an article about stillbirth for the parenting website Kidspot. I decided it was time to share my story so with trepidation I unearthed that article I wrote four years ago and submitted it with my own name. Incompatible with life – the decision no pregnant woman wants to make was published.
As it’s such a personal and controversial topic, I was particularly scared about the comments I might get on social media. However I was pleasantly surprised to read some beautiful words from other mums who had experienced the same thing. It was like these women hadn’t had the outlet to share their stories, many thanked me for being brave enough to share mine in such a public forum. I felt like I had truly made a difference.
I was listening to an episode of my favourite podcasts the other day, Coffee and Crumbs. They were talking about miscarriage, and Jessica Zucker said that miscarriage made the lens on her world shift. I realised that this is exactly how I feel. Although I’m still the same person and I don’t feel defined by my losses, I’m forever changed by my experiences. While I suffer more anxiety and fear than before, I have also learnt so much more about myself and how strong I am.
So on this last day of October, the last day of this awareness month, I thank all the women (and men for that matter) who have shared their stories through media, social media and other forums. Miscarriage and stillbirth is so common but still so many people talk about how they feel such loneliness after going through a pregnancy loss. I hope this month we all feel a little less alone.
The passing of time has helped me process my experiences however I don’t think a day will go by without me remembering what I lost. But in remembering my losses, it also helps me remember what I have gained, and for that I am truly grateful.