Our first baby would have turned 14 this month.
And every year around this time,
a tiny shudder will run through me when I step into a bathroom.
It will always be a room where I first said hello and good bye to motherhood.
I can still see the colour of the walls.
I can still see the lines on a stick.
I can still see the top of my husband's head as he changed a light bulb in the stairwell outside the door, because I had left it slightly ajar.
I turned to look at him, with that secret test in my hand,
And I thought,
I'm about to change our lives forever.
That's where the memory ends.
I don't remember his reaction or what we said to one another in the days that followed.
I believe my heart has done a very good job of hiding it from my mind's eye.
We were young.
We were scared.
I didn't think we were ready.
I can still remember the words that left my lips,
when the first drops of blood made themselves known seven weeks later,
I had wished our baby away.
And despite the blood tests, ultrasounds, emergency rooms, complications and surgery I went on to endure, there was no greater punishment than the words I repeated to myself.
I deserved to lose our baby.
And when the numbness and shock subsided enough to make room for crushing waves of grief,
I turned away from them.
When concerned family tried to comfort me,
I brushed them off.
You can't mourn a baby you didn't want.
My marriage suffered, my self-esteem plummeted, my body refused me another pregnancy when I decided I was finally ready to welcome one.
I don't deserve to be a mother.
Until the day I sat across from a young doctor and confessed that I wanted to conceive again.
I wanted her to see my charred heart and help me heal it.
To tell me it was okay to hope.
Because I wasn't sure a baby could grow beneath a heart like mine.
She told me to stop calling what happened to me a baby and accept that it was just a mass of imperfect cells I was better off without.
I walked out the door and forgave myself.
I wasn't better off without.
I would be better because I finally understood,
my grief was a symptom of love,
my loss came from longing,
and my forgiveness was hope.
And in the emptiness left behind,
was a space to fill with joy.
Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.
One in four pregnancies end in loss.
If you have experienced a loss, my heart goes out to yours.
Please find help and understanding and compassion for yourself.