By: Ann-Marie Ferry
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it
(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing
is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life,
which grows higher than a soul can hope, or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
by E.E. Cummings
I wish I could write like E.E. Cummings. “I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”, the first time I read those words I savored them like a morsel of chocolate. Cummings’ poem, not meant for me, describes my love for Kuyper (my stillborn son) as if Cummings had watched my life and pregnancy, and had seen every thought in my mind. I am incredibly grateful for poets and writers who paint the emotions of the soul with words. Not many of us will ever write something as iconic as Cummings’ poem. However, we can find healing in writing…just like we find healing in reading the morsels left by poets.
In June of 2013 I began writing the story of my son’s pregnancy and stillbirth. I set out to write as much as I could remember, to leave nothing out. Originally it was just for me, an intentional step on my journey as a bereaved mother. It was an active step in a situation I felt powerless against.
Would you like to write too? You do not have to be good at it. I promise. This is just for you. If someday you want to share it with others, it can be edited. For now, think through these writing prompts. Take as much time as you need. There is no rush. Writing about memories is as much about the process as it is about the final product.
Let’s Start at The Beginning
- When did you first think about having a child or when did you first think about having this baby?
- Did you plan it? Was it a surprise?
- What do you remember about the day you took the pregnancy test? Who did you tell first?
- What were your first emotions? Were you excited, scared, nervous, fearful, upset?
- What symptoms did you have, if any?
- What routines in your daily life changed?
- What foods did you suddenly want? What foods did you not want?
All About Firsts
- How far along were you on the day of your first doctor’s appointment? Was someone with you? How did you feel as you walked into that appointment and as you walked out? Are there any memorable things that the doctor said?
- How far along were you on the day of your first ultrasound? Was someone with you? What did you think, feel, and say as you looked at this new little person on the screen? Did any nicknames for the baby come out of this experience?
- If you were early on and did not get to see your doctor or have an ultrasound before miscarrying…how did the absence of those things affect you?
- Did you have a feeling about who this little one would be one day? What personality did you think they would have?
- Did you think the baby would be a boy or girl? Did you always want a little girl or a little boy?
- What names stuck out to you as you began to think through all the options? Did you pick one? Did you have a list?
- How did you imagine this baby would change your family, you, and your partner?
- Did you buy an outfit, toy, or some other item for your baby?
- Did you have a nursery planned, started, or finished? Talk about the nursery. What made it a great nursery?
- How did you and your partner bond during this time?
- Recall your sweetest memories with your partner during your pregnancy.
- Did the stress of the pregnancy weigh on your relationship? How did you work through it?
- Did you imagine together? Dream together?
Sweet Baby, Sweet Memories
- What are your sweetest memories of your baby?
- Did your baby do something that you cannot forget on the ultrasound?
- If you were into the second trimester: what do you recall about the first time you felt your baby kick?
- Did your baby have a personality you could identify even in utero? Where they a strong-willed bicycle kicker? Did they move and respond when other people cried or were sad?
- Looking back, were there any ominous signs?
- Did you have a feeling that something was not right?
- Did you have symptoms like bleeding, contractions, etc.?
- Paint a vivid picture about the day you found out: What was the weather like? What was your disposition? What were you supposed to be doing that day (work, home, weekend plans, etc.)? What did you wear? Who was around?
- How did you find out that your baby had died? Who told you? Where they compassionate, cruel, or somewhere in the middle?
- Talk about the miscarriage, D&C, stillbirth, or delivery? Where you in a hospital or at home? Who was there to support you? Were you in pain?
- How many weeks along was your baby? If your baby was far enough along for you to see/hold, did you choose to see/hold your baby? What thoughts ran through your head as you looked at your baby? What made it the right choice for you to see/hold your baby or not to see/hold your baby?
- How did you react? Did you cry, scream, get angry, go numb? Do you remember having distinct thoughts at the time or was your mind empty from shock?
- Do you have any precious memories of that day, of other people’s kindness, of bonding with your partner, or of sweet and fleeting moments looking at or holding your baby?
- What were the days following your baby’s death like? Did you immediately return to work or your normal routine or did you take time to recover your body and mind?
- How did you choose to remember your baby? Did you keep an object, photo, or ultrasound that reminds you of your baby? Did you have a service? Did you cremate them? Did you bury? Did you make a memorial garden? Did you purchase a brick? Did you journal? Did you write a poem? And if it was too much to do anything at all, talk about that.
- How are you changed by your baby and your love for your baby?
On September 20, 2013, Kuyper’s due date, I finished the story of his pregnancy and stillbirth. In writing I found my mind became clearer. Pieces of my shattered existence start to take shape. I knew I would not be able to put many of those pieces back together but describing them gave me comfort. I will always be thankful for the memories I wrote that summer. No matter how many years pass, his memory will keep from fading. It remains clear in black and white.
Bereaved parent, this writing exercise may not be for everyone. It may be for you but not another. It may not be for now but for later. No matter your choice know that your story and your baby’s story are important. A million books could be written about the beautiful love you have for your child.
Click here to link to Kuyper’s Story. https://www.annmarieferry.com/essays/kuyper
About Ann-Marie Ferry
Ann-Marie is a nurse based in the Midwest. Her and her husband have been married for close to a decade. She has three spunky girls and one sweet little boy in heaven. After nine months of hyperemesis, hemorrhage, and pre-term labor, her first pregnancy resulted in a full-term baby girl. Kuyper, her second child, was stillborn during his second trimester in 2013. Her third pregnancy concluded six weeks early resulting in a NICU stay. Although, still complicated and high risk, she would describe her fourth and final pregnancy as a redeeming experience.
Ann-Marie can be found blogging at annmarieferry.com and on Instagram @ann_marieferry.