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No Longer Living in October's Shadow

Thursday, October 07, 2004
Eight years ago today, I went for an ultrasound that changed my life forever. My midwife was unable to detect my baby's heartbeat during a routine prenatal checkup. Within a few hours, I found myself sitting in an ultrasound room at the local hospital, trying to make sense of what the radiologist was trying to tell me: something had gone terribly wrong with my pregnancy, and my baby had died. A day-and-a-half later, I gave birth to a tiny baby girl who was perfect in every way, except for the fact that an umbilical cord knot had cut off her life so cruelly at just 26 weeks gestation.

My daughter's stillbirth totally shattered my faith in the world. The world might has well have started spinning in the opposite direction. Nothing in my world made sense anymore. How could a baby die before she was even born? -- especially a baby who was cared for and nurtured in the womb by a mother who loved her and was eagerly anticipating her birth?

My grief was overwhelming. Sure, I found ways to channel it in productive ways -- writing about perinatal bereavement and helping to found a local organization to support moms who had experienced the death of a baby -- but I still couldn't stand to hear the cry of a newborn baby or to listen to sad music. And each time the leaves started to change colour and the cooler weather arrived, I felt a heavy sadness sweep over me again as I marked yet another year without my baby.

It wasn't until my mother died last year and I was forced to deal with my grief about her death that I realized that I was carrying around a lot of unresolved grief about my baby's death -- that even though I had cried for months when my baby was stillborn, I hadn't allowed myself to fully acknowledge how traumatic and painful her stillbirth had been. Facing those emotions head-on allowed me to finally make peace with the events of that October day eight years ago.

I am no longer living in October's shadow.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:32 PM