The story of grief and the story of conception are interwoven in these pages.
In January 2015 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Nathaniel. After a textbook pregnancy and an uncomplicated and unmedicated labor, we discovered Nathaniel had aspirated meconium, the sticky first secretions of infants. This isn’t unusual, about 25% of babies have meconium in their amniotic fluid at birth; only 11% have Meconium Aspiration Syndrome or any symptoms or complications from the meconium and it turned out Nathaniel was among that percentage. His chest X-rays showed an alarming reduction in his lung capacity that caused a cascade of other medical emergencies.
Three days after his birth, Nathaniel died and my husband and I entered into the private, select club of grieving parents.
So that is the origin of this particular story.
The grieving parents club is one that people don’t really talk about. But I realized that if I kept silent, Nathaniel would exist as a shadow of a memory, the stretch marks on my abdomen, and an ache in our hearts. So I vowed to be as open and honest as I could be and to talk about my son, his birth, his life and legacy, and his death.
There are many awkward social moments caused by this approach to openness. There are also a lot of ridiculous, absurd, beautiful moments. I write about these moments in letters, emails, my personal journal, and the occasional essay, but words are not always enough to capture the essence of an experience. After one particularly ridiculous medical appointment, I drew a sequence cartoon to articulate the absurdity of the entire situation and “Adventures of a Grieving Mother” sprang to life.
And this is where the story continues….
We are trying to get pregnant again. Trying to conceive is terrifying for all the unknowns it contains and the constant shadow of “what if it happens again?”. It isn’t as if once you lose a child, you get handed a card of exemption the next time around. It turns out that trying to conceive shares many of the same ups and downs of grieving. And, it won’t be easy for us to create another child. We are, it turns out, differently fertile.
What is contained within this blog are stories and awkward moments, my own stumbling steps along the journey to find a new normal and the wild unknowns of conceiving again. I share them with you, the anonymous internet world, partially for awareness and partially because the human experience should be shared, even the darkest, saddest parts of it. Maybe especially those parts.
As a grieving mother, I will tell you that trigger warnings abound in the world. You know yours and they are likely different from mine, but you may find some within these pages. Proceed at your own risk here.