In 2018, within the space of two months we’d relocated to the other side of the country, had the entire contents of our home stolen in the move and tragically lost our very loved and wanted little boy, Theodore, in the second trimester of our pregnancy. Having already suffered through long term infertility, a previous early miscarriage, fertility treatments and the heartbreaking loss of my mother, I have a resistant yet intimate relationship with loss and grief.
Starting a blog about all these things probably seems like a depressing thing to do. I don’t know, maybe it is? But in the weeks and months that passed, I struggled to find others who had been through similar things. Especially women who an experience that echoed mine with Teddy and were willing to talk about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing photos of pineapple socks on infertility forums and IVF support groups, but I wanted more. I wanted to read similar stories, find others that would understand and maybe feel just a little less isolated.
Almost 12 months on, we’ve managed to rebuild our world in a physical/material sense. Emotionally, I’ve come to terms with that fact that I will grieve my mother and babies every day, for the rest of my life. I’ve learnt that there is no ‘punch card’ on loss or grief – No matter how much loss you’ve endured you are never immune to more. I’m learning to let go of the anger and frustration I’ve felt towards my own body after years of infertility. I’ve learnt to accept that the person I was before all of this, is gone. Whilst I’m still trying to work out exactly who has replaced her, I know she is softer, kinder, more compassionate and more authentic because of these experiences and I like the new version that’s evolving more already.
Over the last year, I’ve spent countless hours researching and reading trying to understand my grief better, trying to learn as much as I can about Teddy’s condition, looking for others who shared similar experiences and read/hear their stories. I was trying to blindly plod a way forward out of the suffocating dust cloud that was left by the quick succession of shitstorms that hit my life.
In amongst this daily grief-ridden internet deep dive, I discovered Morgan Harper Nichols. If you’re not familiar with her work, Morgan started a project back in 2017 inviting people to share their stories with her. From there, Morgan creates a personalised piece of art inspired by the submission she’s received and sends it back to the person for free.
The quote read – “Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”
In another life, I was paid to help others tell their business stories. Having always found writing cathartic – my way to process emotions and heal and previously having written a lot about my Mum, my lost pregnancies and infertility, it dawned on me that I hadn’t written anything in almost five months. I was sitting in my grief and feeling completely ‘undone’ by all that had happened.
With encouragement from my husband, I started to write again. I’d hold my breath while he read the drafts of the things I had written. I could barely stand to look sometimes as he’d fight back tears. Putting our little intimate bubble of loss and struggles in black and white and making him relive it made me feel sick with guilt – we all deal with grief differently, and this wasn’t his way, it was mine.
He selflessly reads everything I write even though I know it hurts him sometimes. He’s honest but very gentle with me in his feedback, he knows it’s my broken heart on the page. When he says things like ‘I know this is just a draft’, actually anytime he says the word ‘draft’, I know he doesn’t like it and I need to take another pass (or five) at it. This happens often – More than I would like to admit.
One of the things I had shared with him was an apology letter I had written. He was strangely excited by it – kind of weird to be excited by an apology letter but hey, I was the one who had written it and I was just happy I wasn’t hearing the word ‘draft’ come out of this mouth. He said, ‘I think this is powerful and you need to find a way to share this with others.’
Morgan’s quote came back to me. This letter wasn’t even a pebble on the mountain and maybe it was good that I share some of the story of the climb. Worst case, no one else is going to read it, best case it might benefit someone. The time I had spent looking for resources, places and people that could provide help might save others from the hours of isolation I felt and perhaps even provide some comfort.
I really hope that over time this space becomes about more than just my story. Other’s experiences, different perspectives, more dialog and conversation about these often-taboo subjects. A safe place. A way to honour both our stories and loved ones. A place to embrace the symbiotic relationship of grief and love.
In the meantime, thank you for coming to this place with an open and loving heart. Chances are, if you’ve found yourself here, you too are hurting. I’m sorry you’ve found yourself here. This is a club that I wish no one had to join.
I cannot take away the lump that now sits permanently in the back of your throat, or wipe your tears and I cannot take away the moments when grief completely blindsides you but I promise, I’ll try my hardest to help you feel less alone.
Sending you love, peace and comfort,