Friday, December 23, 2011

The Beginning of Grief

*There's a photo of our stillborn baby in this post.  If you don't want to see her, go away.*

“God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of 'parties' with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”

~ Sylvia Plath

Yesterday we received the professional photos taken of us and Eve at the hospital.  I have been looking forward to viewing this photos since we arrived home, without her.  I couldn't wait to see her again.

But yesterday when I finally got to look at the photos, it was not a happy occasion.  It was horrible.

I think I expected too much from these photos.  Maybe I thought I was going to get to experience Eve again.  Maybe some part of me even thought that, if I could just look at the photos, she wouldn't really be dead.

But I looked, and she is dead.

Looking at the photos is not the same as looking at her.

Even more horrible: I can't remember what our daughter looked like.  I couldn't remember her face even the day after we left the hospital.  I could only remember features -- her mouth, her nose, the curling of her ears, her longer fingers, the smoothness of her cheeks, the softness of her forehead, her curly dark hair.  But I could not get these features, precious memories though they are, to resolve into her face.

So now, when I look at the photos, I am not sure if I am even looking at her.  I can't remember.  My memory has failed already.  My body failed, a living death chamber, and now my mind is following.

That's what it feels like anyway.

But I am grateful for the photos.  I am so glad that we have them.  I look at them and see my love for our daughter, our firstborn, and I see the love between myself and my husband.  I see the pain of her death.  I feel the amputation, the miracle, the sorrow of it all.

Today I feel, at last, that she is dead.  She is not coming back, not ever.  I will never hold her, smell her, cry over her body, smooth the worry lines from her face.  Never again.  It is over.

I feel destroyed.

Baby Girl November 20, 2011-12


  1. I've been reading these posts so full of emotion...heartbreak and pain, joy and love. For days I've been reading and crying and praying for you but I haven't known what to say, what to tell you, how to express my own feelings of sorrow and sadness for what you've experienced and for what you will continue to experience. As I read this post today I just feel like I want to say I love you. I'm sorry something so painful, so heartbreaking is now part of your story.

  2. Oh Beth. I am so broken for you. I remember holding Jenna for the last time and being haunted that I would forget her features. And like you described I did for a while. Photos just don't do their beautiful souls justice. In time her beauty has come back into my memories, but it is almost always hard to look at certain pictures. I hope and pray those memories will reenter your heart and mind. I'm just so sorry, wish I could give you a hug in real life.

  3. Thanks, Franchesca. I hope my memory of her little face returns...but I'm trying to be okay with the fact that it might never. I wish I could hug you, too! It's strange, this sense of sisterhood that springs up in me for other babylost mamas. <3

  4. Oh thank you so much, Christine. I can't tell you how much that means, even (or especially?) coming from someone so removed from my off-the-computer life. Thank you. I can't tell you enough -- thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for entering in.

  5. Dear Beth,

    I loved that you took and posted a picture. I looked, she is precious, so little and sweet. I have pictures of my Ashley, the dust part, the shell.

    I didn't know that the process of grieving is a gift, from the One who chose to rip and remove. Slowly I learn, still...

    I didn't remember that anger is an attribute of God, amazing that He wants us to taste that too. When that finally clicked, that it was ok, that I wasn't shaking my fist in God's face or screaming, NOOO!, when I allowed myself to feel the angry part of the hurt, I began to heal.

    I am out on the other side dear one. He is faithful. You will be out on the other side of this as well. He is faithful, so very lovingly faithful.

    Praying and praising Him for you,

  6. Thank you so much for your sweet words, Johanna. You are right -- grief is a gift, too. It's amazing how God can make something profound out of this horror. I'm so sorry that you lost a little one, too, but you give me hope. Prayer and praise for Him indeed! <3

  7. Just came over from your comment on my site. I'm so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful image of your family. I'm so glad your hospital served to help you remember the precious moments you all had together. Praying for your family during the holidays. May your daughter's light shine brightly on you always.

  8. Thank you, Jana. <3

  9. Oh definitely! So thankful for such a loving, supportive community. Hoping tomorrow is gentle on you xoxox

  10. Oh, sweet Beth. So sorry for this new wave of grief. You are mistaken, friend. Your body did not fail. Your body was NOT a death chamber. Instead, your body was a source of LIFE, comfort, peace, and safety for sweet Eve. Without the love you and Josh share, or your willingness to share your body and your whole being with little Eve, she would never even exist. Jesus used you to create life, even if it is not the life we anticipated and hoped for. Hang tight to His promises, Beth. Loving you deeply...Cassie

  11. Oh Cassie thank you so much for this. It's even more powerful to hear from a woman who lost a baby before birth, too. And there is so much life here, even in the wake of death. I don't know how He does it. xoxo

  12. Beth, I'm so grateful to have connected with express your feelings so honestly and beautifully. Even though I wish we could have connected under different circumstances, I'm thankful to know you now. We lost our precious William just days before you lost your precious Eve. My heart breaks for you because I can so empathize with the pain of delivering a baby and going home with empty arms. Xoxo

  13. Oh I'm so sorry that your little William is gone, too. :( The more I learn about new stillbirths/miscarriages/etc., the more heartbroken I feel. How is it possible that so many babies are dying and the world goes on -- that I didn't know? I hate that it happens, and that it happened to me (and you)...but if it has to happen, then I'm glad we can support each other. Much love to you and your family.

  14. Beth;
    We had briefly commented back and forth when I was still blogging, and I was curious as to where your path had taken you when I found this site. Your story is very familiar. I lost my first daughter at 36 weeks just about two years ago - a life that was wholly unexpected given my extended dalliance with a severe eating disorder. I had no words for quite some time, and the fear that I would never again have the chance to hold my child was very, very pronounced.
    My grandmother used to say we always have the moon, and we always have hope. I gave birth four months ago to a healthy baby girl, and my gratitude for every single waking moment with her is always at the forefront of my mind. Healing may never be fully complete, and I don't think a new baby is necessary to move in that direction. I just want to offer empathy, understanding and support, if these are things you might want from a stranger.

  15. Thank you so much, Rachael. Our hope is that Eve will not be our only child, but I am trying to trust God. My body still seems to be functioning normally, so hopefully that means she will soon having [living] siblings. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  16. I'm Georgia May's grandmother...your posts remind me of our grief...I cherish those photos of her and her parents...we just want her memory to continue and that she not be friends bought us an oak leaf mountain ash in her honor...we hung a bell in to catch the flowers in the spring and berries in the fall...stillborns are tough on all generations...I am moved to share this writing my sister- in -law sent in memorium...

    Thank you Georgia Mae for all the gifts you have given us!... Joy... love... beauty... wonder... tenderness... expectation... anticipation... parenthood... being grandparents... being aunts and uncles... preciousness of family... strength in sorrow... tears of longing... acceptance... hope

  17. that is so beautiful.

  18. [...] I have missed her more than I ever have since she died.  Maybe it’s because now I have our hospital photos and can’t look forward to anything else new regarding my baby girl.  These are the first and [...]


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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King