By: Keisha Wells
Twelve years ago, I became a loss mom. I had no point of reference for the devastating blow of pregnancy and infant loss. I couldn’t process the arduous landscape ahead in navigating life without my precious sons, Kyle and Kendrick. My boys were born beautiful and perfect but 17 weeks too soon. At the time, I had no understanding of the stealthy thieves, premature birth and neonatal loss.
To go from a woman pregnant with twins in her second trimester to a mother of angels, I couldn’t comprehend how life had shifted so abruptly and permanently for me.
I recall the sadness and shame I felt leaving the hospital with empty, lead-like arms. Thinking back to that moment, the wheelchair ride to the car was a blur but I will never forget how I felt. How I prayed to not be seen for fear that everyone who saw me would know my story—that I was the woman who lost her twin sons. I was the woman who didn’t defy the odds. I often think back to that day and reflect on how I have endured so many seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years without them physically. I can measure it all. I remember the shock and confusion I felt in my early days of loss. The absolute heartbrokenness.
If I could speak to the younger me—the ambitious woman in the prime of her life who was eager to make a mark in the world, and ready to take on motherhood to only be plowed by feelings of failure and misery—I would like to share these gentle words with her now of what I know and have learned for sure, thus far, on my grief journey.
I know you don’t understand life now and why this happened to you.
The nagging, unanswered question of why you had to experience this out-of-order loss that no mother envisions or deserves will never have a suitable explanation. I wish I could provide comfort on this note and tell you that all your questions about your sons’ deaths will have a definitive reason. The reason why any mother suffers on this journey of motherhood will not be answered. You didn’t seek it but you have become a member of a large tribe of brave loss moms—bearing courage and sorrow in honoring their little ones. Some of these women will become your greatest allies. You cannot see it now but you will acknowledge your role in supporting your fellow loss moms and serving others. You may not receive the answers you seek but you will make meaning in loss by honoring your sons’ lives.
I know you wonder when or if you will feel good again.
But please know, you will. Believe it. You will smile again. You will feel loved and be loving. You will even feel great joy when you think of your sons and the precious time they spent with you. The time they spent together in your womb. The time you all will have in eternity. You will grow to learn and embrace the fact that life hurts but grief and loss will never defy love.
I know you feel painful emotions.
I also know they don’t define your character—the beautiful person you are, the woman you are evolving into. I know you feel forgotten, ashamed, empty, lost, and scared. I know you feel guilty and punished. I know you feel a pain you can’t speak. I also know you won’t ignore these feelings but strive to work through them. Yes, you will feel sad because your sons are not here. You can’t deny that but you will move forward in loss and, ultimately, feel better. The pain of life will not always be this jagged. You will see yourself properly. You will come to know that you are courageous, your voice has power, and others need to hear from you. You will feel hopeful, encouraged, and confident. You will lift your head high when you speak your sons’ names and treasure the gift they are to your family. You will feel a passion so deep in honoring all angel moms and their precious babies. You will feel lighter at times and not so burdened in loss. I promise you.
I know you will always long for your sons—you will always think of what was and what should have been.
You will recall happy milestones in your pregnancy mixed with the trauma of delivering and burying your sons. You will wish for everyday moments of messy bath time, finishing homework, or enjoying a cozy Sunday afternoon watching a movie. You will long to know the sound of their laughs and to see their sibling love grow. This longing will cause great sorrow for many years, but there will be days to come when you daydream without as many tears and as much heaviness. When you reflect on the beauty of their lives even in loss, you will receive and become light. You will learn how to mother them in loss. You will always speak their names in longing and love.
You don’t know it—and can’t imagine how—but you will survive.
You will thrive. You will use your pain, fears, and tears for a higher purpose. They will not be felt in vain because you will use your love for your sons to propel you forward. Forward in healing, forward in building community with other loss moms and families, and forward in hoping for a day where motherhood is acknowledged and celebrated for all moms.
About Keisha Wells
Keisha Wells is a mom to twin angels, Kyle and Kendrick, and author of the soon to be released book, From Three Heartbeats to One: A Gentle Companion Offering Hope in Grieving Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Keisha is also a licensed professional counselor and owner of Transformation Counseling Services in Georgia. Her practice focuses on grief counseling and perinatal mental health services for women and moms. Keisha is an avid reader and writer, contributing to articles in ESSENCE Magazine, The New York Times, Bustle, and Elite Daily. Connect with Keisha at www.keishawells.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/kwellslpc.