By: Rachael Fast
This topic seemed so easy to write about, however, as I sit to write, my mind goes blank. How do I write about something that is all I’ve ever known, as far as parenting goes? My first baby girl, Elaina Hope was stillborn at 40 weeks in March 2011. She was my first experience with pregnancy, labor, birth, and of course all the love and dreams each parent has for their child. I had so many dreams for her, for us. I would sit in her nursery in my rocking chair, rubbing my belly and thinking about what was to come. What my life with her was going to look like. I was going to be a good mom.
After each of my living babies were born, I went through another round grief; not as intense as the first, but still very real.
Here I am now, almost 7 years later. I’m parenting Elaina’s three younger siblings, a little sister who is 5, and two little brothers ages 3 and 1; I also experienced an early loss between my 3-year-old and 1-year-old. I’m not the mother I had planned and hoped to be all those years ago rocking in her nursery. After each of my living babies were born, I went through another round grief; not as intense as the first, but still very real. I also suffered some form of postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety after each delivery. Is that because of my history of loss? Maybe not, I may have experienced those postpartum issues regardless, but I think it is connected somehow.
…I’m not the mom I’d dreamed I’d be.
This is hard for me to say, because it’s honest and painful and not something I really want people to know about me, but I’m a broken mom. I love my children with fierceness and I would do anything for them. We have fun and laugh and tell jokes and sing silly songs. But I’m not the mom I’d dreamed I’d be. Sometimes loss, especially at this time of year when Elaina’s birthday is quickly approaching, just hangs over me like a cloud. I often feel such heaviness. The reality that my children can be here one moment and gone the next, hit me square in the eyes 7 years ago, it’s a reality that I find hard to live with. I want desperately to be the laid-back, fun, easy-going mom I had expected I’d be–that I probably would’ve been—going on adventures and living life to the fullest.
No one escapes from life unscathed and I’m no exception.
However, something that I am, slowly, learning and coming to grasp is this: this is OK. The life I had imagined was just that, imagined. No one escapes from life unscathed and I’m no exception. I might not be the care-free mom I’d hoped, but I can hopefully teach my children that the lives of these little ones we’ve lost are precious and are not to be forgotten or seen as taboo. We have open and honest discussions about Elaina quite often. They love looking at her pictures and talking about her, asking questions. Sometimes the questions can hurt my heart, but they’re little and trying to understand this world as it is, add to that a sister who is in heaven and I know they don’t mean to be insensitive or confused. Very recently, my daughter has asked when we can see Elaina, she misses her and wants to give her a hug. I just tell her “Me too!”.
I will hopefully see that the mom I actually am is exactly the mother my children need me to be.
My belief is that someday I will see Elaina again. I believe that she is in heaven with Jesus and that when my time comes to leave this earth, she’ll be right behind Him ready to welcome me into eternity. As scripture says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, I do not grieve without hope. Yes, I grieve, I grieve the loss of my daughter and I grieve the mother I might have been, but more importantly, I have hope! I have hope that this pain is not for nothing, hope that at the end of my life I can see how God has worked everything, even the loss of my sweet girl, together for good, my good and His glory. I will hopefully see that the mom I actually am is exactly the mother my children need me to be. It’s downright hard some days, but I don’t go through this life, this pain, alone or for nothing. I have hope.
About Rachael Fast
Rachael Fast is a stay at home mom of 3 children, a girl and two boys, and has two babies in heaven due to stillbirth and early loss. She loves connecting with other moms, whether they’ve had a loss, and especially hopes to encourage and support hurting moms.