3 years ago today, I was labouring to deliver my stillborn daughter. I was frightened, overwhelmed, traumatized, and heartbroken. It hurts to think about it.
Shortly after I gave birth to my stillborn daughter Mia, my husband and I were given the difficult task of picking a place to scatter her ashes. And though this task was both tragic and morbid, we somehow found ourselves embracing it for what it was. We knew that this would be one of the only things we get to do for our daughter as her parents. All our other parental responsibilities that we so longingly dreamed about, were stolen from us.
You’re a sky full of stars,
I’m gonna give you my heart,
you’re a sky, you’re a sky full of stars,
because you light up the path,
I don’t care, go on tear me apart,
I don’t care if you do,
Because in a sky full of stars,
I think I saw you.
(A sky full of stars – Coldplay)
I seem to have come down with the flu. I’m disappointed because I had so much work I was supposed to do today and now the thought of reading a textbook and answering question banks seems a little out of my reach for now.
Instead, I thought, maybe I should curl back up in bed and write to you. It’s been a while, and I am sorry for that. This whole year has been such a big beautiful mess. I haven’t much felt like myself a lot of the time. More like – carving a new/old self out of whatever remained after my daughter died.
One thing I have been throughout this year, however – is present. Life forced me to be. I can’t be anywhere else but now. I can’t be any way else but this.
I am pregnant again. I had shared the news of this pregnancy a few weeks ago on instagram, so this may not be new to you.
But it has been 28 weeks of growing a little sister for Mia.
Life has been floating by. I stopped writing and I stopped taking photographs. I just couldn’t find it in me. I think there was too much to feel and be a part of lately.
After Mia’s due date passed, I couldn’t quite come back from it. The day itself was as difficult as I had anticipated, but there was a heaviness in the weeks to follow that made life slow and tired. I feel forever changed, touched by death.
I spent a short time with my parents in BC. One afternoon I said to my mother “I am to you what Mia is to me. You must love me so much.”
My mom just smiled.
Slowly, I find myself coming back to my words.
And I wrote something about my daughter. It was too big to be a poem, and too small to be a story. So here it is, rough, but loved – a little piece of writing from my heart.
I waited for you, for a very long time, since the beginning of the winter, since the beginning of time. You promised you would come one summer, and that one day we would meet, one day we would fly together, and my heart would be complete.
I consider myself a fortunate person with a blessed life.
But I have been both the giver and receiver of lemons.
And I guess losing our daughter was a lemon. I think we can all agree on that.
But no matter what happens to me in my life, no matter what experiences I am thrown into, I have the opportunity to ask myself these questions;
in your 6 months of life you changed everything
you made a girl into a mother
a man into a father,
you turned two into three,
you showed me life,
you showed me death,
you are as close to me as you are far
with only one infuriating inch of space that separates us
and even though I am a mother who has to understand
that your journey in this life was a short one,
I can’t help but wish that you were in my life
instead of all around it.
This experience is good for me.
It’s good for me because it turned my entire life into a giant question mark.
And I think it’s a good thing to feel like that from time to time.
I have seen how fragile life is. It was a topic that I had been contemplating before I became pregnant with Mia. It was a concept that had become illuminated in my life. And now I know it more deeply.
Last summer, I had been thinking about death and my own mortality a lot. For the first time, really. At the time I finally realized that I was walking through life like I was invincible to death. And I felt that was a foolish way to live when I understood that life is not promised to me.
Going through this journey with Mia has taught me that death is just as beautiful and just as necessary as birth.
And now, I see the gift of life.
In my mind, I picture two newborn babies. One, perhaps a child of my future, who is born alive. And the other, my Mia, who is born sleeping.
The difference between these two babies, the life that exists in one, and the life that is absent in the other, it is invisible. And yet it is everything.
I love this part of the story. It’s my favourite part.
For most people, the best part of pregnancy is having a baby. For me, it was going labour and birthing my daughter. For me, the best part of pregnancy was the pain. It’s a morbid and sad thing to realize, but I have not known it any other way.
I don’t know what it is to give birth to a baby who is alive and who I can bring home and watch her grow up. But I know what it is to give birth to my daughter. And it was the most beautiful experience of my life.