Dearest Fresh Loss Mama


Dearest Fresh Loss Mama: I want you to know that I see you trying to not make eye contact right now. Your smile is there, but it’s forced and it doesn’t quite reach your eyes. Your heart is broken, maybe – probably – secretly. You’d like the rest of the world to know that your own world has been upended, rocked off its very axis, but the words are lodged in your throat behind that huge lump of tears you find yourself speaking around all day long. I see you because I was you.

Dearest Fresh Loss Mama | Duluth Moms Blog

I see you holding your husband’s hand on a Friday night, watching mindless tv, both too tired from the days, the weeks, maybe even the months, of walking this lonely road. I see you crawl into bed earlier than you’ve ever gone to bed before, but not falling asleep for hours. Wishing your brain to slow down and your heart to stop reminding you with every beat that you went from two heartbeats to one

I see you look at the babies in the store or in church or as you pass them on the sidewalk and you can’t help but stare at their tiny perfectness even as your heart stalls in your chest, only to resume beating so fast you think if you don’t look away it will burst through your sternum. There are those agonizing follow-up appointments where you sit in a waiting room surrounded by perfectly round bellies while your own feels like a deflated balloon after a birthday party, limp and stretchy and desperately sad. You try to focus on an outdated copy of People, anything to keep from thinking all the thoughts that usually begin with, “Why her?” and end with, “Why not me?” You pretend you’ve got something in your eye and rub furiously at the hurt and anger that this is your story and also the guilt that for a brief minute you wished your own pain on someone else.

I see you because I was you. And in some ways I still am you. I have a tick mark on my heart that counts ahead; I try not to look at it too often. 5 years this fall, which means that my tiny human would be four, closer really to 5. We’d have survived all the baby and toddler things: overnight feedings, teething and sleeping through the night, solid foods and a first birthday party followed by the terrible twos and the even more terrible threes and we’d be settled into the wonder of the fours, where everything is so fascinating and the questions are fully formed and oh, my goodness, time passes so quickly. Maybe there was a bike with training wheels last summer. Maybe we tried swimming without the safety of water wings. We’d be marking our last year of preschool and all the bittersweet lasts that this year would entail before the start of all the firsts: kindergarten. The bus. School lunch and best friends.

I know that if you choose to try again, if by some miracle another little one lands below your heart, it will be met with the dichotomy of excitement and fear. Each doctor appointment will cause your palms to sweat; each ultrasound will twist your heart until you see the beating of that second heart that’s tucked deep inside your own body, until you see the flutter of tiny arms and legs. It will not go away, that fear. Even when you’re as big as a house and your babe makes their presence known constantly – maybe especially then.

I don’t want to think about it often because each what if is like a tiny papercut on my heart, it takes so long to heal and until it does, it throbs with each beat and I’m reminded again and again and again all day long that that small human was not to be mine. My story took a sharp turn and while the leaves surrendered to the frost and fall turned to winter, I let the same change happen in my heart. I tucked in and hibernated and waited out the hurt. And true to nature, spring came again. Slowly but surely I allowed a little bit of light into my heart.

And here I stand before you: 5 years later, no less sad, but braver. I make eye contact with those mamas maneuvering a swollen belly through the store. I hold all the babies, but recognize that I’ve also held my own rainbow baby and that a lot of the healing that has happened over the past few years has happened because of her small hand in mine; healing that I couldn’t see when my hurt was fresh. And while the baby I do have is a miracle to be sure and I wouldn’t change a thing about her (even though she’s not really a baby anymore), I know that to wish for the one who came and was lost before her is to wish her existence away. So it’s a fine line I walk when I ask those what if questions.

Dearest Fresh Loss Mama | Duluth Moms Blog

But let me tell you, one broken heart to another, that to love again, to laugh at random and ordinary things, to make plans that are months out, that is the process of living life to the best of our ability. And it will come; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will. You have been brought to your knees, yes, but you will stand up again. You will look out over the fall leaves with wonder and joy. You will soak up the summer sun at the beach and marvel at the first snowflakes and the first tulips. Because beauty is all around us and sometimes we are better able to see it for what it is – a miracle that continues regardless of circumstance – when it follows in the footsteps of great loss.


  1. “…to make plans that are months out.” This just jumped out at me-my husband and I lost our baby girl at 21 weeks this past January….we are currently pregnant w/ our rainbow baby, but it is so difficult/hard to “nest” or “plan” or purchase things because of those “what if’s.” Thank you for speaking your heart in this blog, your words truly resonated with me.

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