By: Lindsey Dell
As human beings, I believe that we all go through stages of life. I believe that some of them are pretty standard for everyone (puberty, adulthood, etc.). I also believe that there are many things that happen to us in life that change the stage that we’re in. It changes the way we look at life and how we remember specific moments in time.
For example, I wholeheartedly believe that experiences, whether joyful or traumatic, can lead us to remember our lives in different phases. My life will forever be divided up into three phases: Pre-pregnancy, During Pregnancy, After Loss. Here’s how this works:
Friend 1: “Hey do you remember when we did (insert activity here) in August of 2019?”
Me: “Oh yep, I remember. That was right before I got pregnant for the first time.”
Friend 2: “Hey do you remember that race we ran in December of 2019?”
Me: “Of course! That was when we had just found out we were having a baby girl!”
Friend 3: “Man, 2020 has been terrible. Covid really ruined a lot of things. I really want to go out and do (insert activity here).”
Me: “I lost my daughter in February. I don’t want to go anywhere at all. Ever.”
These are mostly hypothetical conversations, but you get the idea.
I’ve written about my pre-marriage life before. It was wonderful. Tons of running, traveling to different places and running, lots of friends and a fairly busy social calendar. Now, let’s be honest. I have never really been much of an extrovert (except probably when I was MUCH younger). A friend of mine and I used to joke that our “fun-meter was on red” when we had too much social time. That really was the best way to describe it. No matter how much fun I had, my “fun-meter” always needed to be recharged at some point, which usually meant just hanging out at home alone and watching trash tv.
After meeting my husband in 2017, some of those things changed. Not a ton, but some. I didn’t run as much (not his fault…I was burnt out). I still saw my friends regularly and would still travel every now and then. I am extremely lucky and grateful that I have had the same friends throughout this entire time. Even more grateful for my husband, who has been an angel through everything (and for the most part doesn’t judge my trash tv).
Here’s the problem. While it is never spoken about, it feels to me like there is, and will always be, an expectation for things to always be how they were. People want things to go back to “pre-covid times.” And while I agree with some of that, there is one important detail. THE OLD ME DIED WHEN MY BABY DIED.
Yes, you read that correctly. The old me died when my baby died. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The me that you read about above no longer exists. On the outside, I am the same (plus a few pounds). On the inside, I don’t even know anymore. The me that used to love running, traveling, and hanging out with friends is gone. Enter new me. Still runs sometimes, doesn’t travel much, makes plans with friends but often cancels for any myriad of reasons. New me is always afraid to give the real reason for cancelling plans because new me thinks old friends are tired of hearing about how sad new me is. New me thinks that old friends want me to be the me that I was pre-pregnancy. In reality, I would venture to say that old friends just want new me to be happy and maybe leave the house to see them every once in a while. But new me has a “fun-meter” that goes to red MUCH faster than old me. New me has a massive (theoretical) hole in my heart that can never be filled. Old me had a life with amazing friends and family and a husband who all made my heart completely full. While the amazing friends, family and husband still remain, old me does not. New me wants to stay home most of the time. New me doesn’t want to try new things because there is comfort in old things.
I am just a few days shy of turning 40. There are days when I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing in those 40 years. Motherhood does not define you, but baby loss might. Realistically I know I am no less of a person in my 40 years because I have no earth-side children. But new me sometimes forgets and has to be reminded by old me. Old me wants new me to know that it’s ok to cancel plans if my heart just isn’t in it. Old me wants old friends to know that I love to be included in plans, but please don’t take offense if the day comes and new me doesn’t feel like going. New me wants old friends to know that sometimes old me is trying to make a comeback. New me asks that old friends (and family) just continue to stay by my side while the battle between old and new plays out. Old me asks that you be gentle with new me, because the old me died when my baby died.
About Lindsey Dell
Lindsey is a mother to 2 angel babies. She lives in Cottleville, MO with her husband Nathan and their 3-year-old Wheaten Terrier, Louie. They are still hopeful that they will have their rainbow baby one day.