2015: One Mother’s Year of Hell, Hope, and Healing

To say 2015 was a difficult year is an understatement. I went from feeling like I was on top of the world, to drowning in an ocean full of sorrow, anger, and confusion. And tears. Lots and lots of tears.

I started 2015 as an expectant mother. I was seven months pregnant. I felt great emotionally and physically. I even had that pregnancy “glow” people always talk about. More importantly, my baby girl was healthy. All of our OB appointments went well, and her growth was on target. We were well into the “safe” zone. I believed that as long as I continued to do what the doctors recommended (eat well, exercise, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep) I’d be bringing home my baby girl in no time. I just had to wait a few more months to meet my little girl. We were so close, and yet so far at the same time.

I remember feeling so crushed after my 41 week check-up. I went into the appointment feeling so hopeful that my body was beginning to prepare for labor. I actually looked forward to having my membranes scraped. I was so disappointed when the nurse practitioner told me I was only a half centimeter dilated, and she couldn’t do anything to trigger labor at that point. We agreed to wait until Monday to put the induction order in, with the hope that baby girl would make her entrance over the weekend. I cried when I got home from our last OB appointment. The ultrasounds and non-stress tests appeared normal. But I still felt defeated. I was ready to meet my girl and I just wanted to have her in my arms at that moment. I had waited long enough. I didn’t want to wait another weekend.

Elliot passed away that evening.

I didn’t know it at the time, but she died overnight. She didn’t struggle. There wasn’t any indication that she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. She passed peacefully. I didn’t feel much movement the next day. I thought she was resting. It was normal for her to have quiet days. I didn’t feel well so I thought we both were getting ready for labor. It wasn’t until the early morning hours of the following day (Sunday) that I realized something was terribly wrong. I woke my husband in the middle of the night, crying and frantically telling him that something was wrong and we needed to go to the hospital right away.

We weren’t at all prepared to hear those horrific words from the doctor. I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.

I was ashamed and embarrassed. I was broken. I thought I had caused my daughter’s death. I thought everyone would be so angry at me and they’d ask how I could let this happen. I was angry at myself. I hated myself in those moments. I questioned how I could allow this to happen. I tried to search for an explanation. But there wasn’t one, at least not at the time. I didn’t know it was possible for a healthy baby to die that late in pregnancy. There wasn’t any warning or signs of distress. I knew only one thing at that point; my baby was not going home with me.

Elliot was born still on March 30, 2015 at 41w3d. As soon as I saw her, I fell head-over-heals in love with her all over again. In the hours we spent together, nothing else mattered. I knew I’d love her forever and I would never forget her beautiful face. It was then that I realized we were mother and daughter from the moment she was conceived, and that bond will last forever.

When Elliot was born, our time together was limited. My husband and I eventually had to say goodbye to her. I was in such a state of shock from everything else that had happened, that I very calmly said goodbye as the nurse wheeled her out of the room. There would be plenty of time for hysterics later. Trust me, it came.

My husband and I spent the next several months in deep mourning. Sometimes I was so overwhelmed by my grief that I’d just sit at the kitchen counter and cry so hard that my body physically hurt. It was like the grief had wrapped itself around my entire body and squeezed as tight as it could.

How does someone survive something like that? There were plenty of days when I didn’t think it was possible. But we did. We survived. With the support from each other, and the support from our loved ones, we survived the darkest days we’ve ever known. We’re still grieving, but the deep mourning eventually passed. We were able to regain some control in our lives, and now we live each day for Elliot. She’s our motivation to be better people. She makes me want to love more freely and not be afraid to take chances.

When Elliot passed away, I lost hope. I thought she’d be forgotten. I worried that I would never have living children. I was convinced I would never be happy again. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Elliot will never be forgotten. She’ll always be loved, remembered, and celebrated by me, her dad, and the rest of our family. I have also found happiness again. It’s different than it used to be, but it’s there. It co-exists with the sadness.

I hope 2016 will be a better year for our family. I hope the New Year will bring good things for us. I hope Elliot’s dad and I will continue to find ways to include Elliot in our lives and family celebrations. I hope we’ll continue to lean on each other on the hard days, and I hope I’ll continue to recognize that my life really isn’t bad. It’s just different than how I expected it to be.

It’s different, but it’s still beautiful.

Shared on January 4, 2016