I am not sure that I have any regrets about my experience with grief itself, so far. I’ve been pretty honest with myself and others about my feelings. Most of my regrets lay in the few hours spent with Elliot. Our time together was beautiful and unforgettable. I just wish we had done a few things differently. I wish Elliot’s face was visible in the photos with Ben. I wish we had thought to take pictures of other family members holding Elliot. Our main focus was to soak her in. Proper photos were the last thing on our minds. But still, I wish we had done them. I can’t remember if anyone at the hospital told us about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I wish we had a photographer come to help us with our photos. Still, we have photos and I love them. I realize how lucky we are to have them.
I also wish I had done skin-to-skin contact with Elliot. That’s probably my biggest regret. It was something I really looked forward to my entire pregnancy; taking my beautiful baby up onto my chest as soon as she left my womb. It was so important to me that Elliot and I share that experience when she was born. After we found out she’d be born still, I thought it would be okay to have her wrapped and then given to me. In those moments, that was okay. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. I was just grateful to have my daughter in my arms before having to say goodbye. I suppose these kinds of thoughts are typical. The “what ifs.” If I wasn’t regretful about this, it would be something else.
At the beginning, everything seemed to be a trigger for me. Doing laundry for the first time made me cry. As I sorted the clothes and put them in the washing machine, a huge wave of sadness nearly knocked me down. There should have been baby clothes mixed in with our laundry. Most things made me cry in the early days – making coffee, going to the store, going for a walk. Learning how to live life without Elliot in tow was difficult. But I couldn’t hide in my house forever. So I took baby steps and eventually doing these things felt okay again.
Now, I think the biggest trigger that leads to sadness is seeing a mother be unkind to her child, or what I perceive as being unkind. I can handle the loving moments between mother and child. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Every child deserves love and patience. The other day, I witnessed a mother shouting at her child to stop crying. I don’t know what a typical day is like for that mother and her child. Maybe she was having a really bad day. We’re all allowed moments of frustration, right? Maybe this was a one off and she later regretted shouting at her child. I don’t know, so I tried not to judge her. But still, it was difficult for me to see and it made me really sad. I’ve seen and heard worse from other mothers and it breaks my heart every time. My heart breaks for those children. And my heart breaks for me and my family. It just isn’t fair.
I also have happy triggers. So many things remind me of Elliot and the love we share. I have come to appreciate nature so much more in the past six and a half months. Birds, butterflies, ladybugs, flowers, wind, the ocean, rain, the moon, the sun, stars, trees…they all remind me of Elliot. I see her in everything beautiful and good. Being reminded of Elliot and our time together is so important to me. It’s an essential part of my healing. She is real. Our relationship is real. Our love is real. I will always celebrate and cherish those things.
I chose this photo because it is a happy trigger. This is Elliot and me (and Ben behind the camera) at around 19 weeks, last October.