I lost a baby at 22 weeks. It was considered a stillbirth after 20 weeks.
My body reminded me of the loss when I changed my bloody pad.
I wish I'd known these things before I lost.
In December, the star of "Selling Sunset" went to her normal 38 week pre-Natal checkup and came home with a "memory box" instead of a baby.
I can't imagine what she's going through, but I can imagine it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a stillbirth as being after 20 weeks and a late-term miscarriage as being at 22 weeks.
If I had talked to Maya last week, here are the things I would have told her.
Get to know your child's body.
You are allowed to ignore people who say it's morbid to want to look at your child's body. Hospitals and birthing centers are trained to care for stillbirths. My did not. I was warned that seeing the body would be upsetting.
It was difficult to hold my child's lifeless body.
I am so thankful that I did. I unwrapped the tiny body, caressed the little toes, and sobbed over the open mouth that would never cry. I remember the sandy tongue. I took pictures of the tiny fingers that were wrapped around my own.
You don't get to go home with a baby that grunts and wiggling, but you do get to remember what could have been.
Your body will remind you.
Every time you go to the bathroom and change your pad, every time you reach for something and don't have to grunt, every time your breasts sting, and every time you ache with engorgement, you will remember your baby is dead.
Your brain will do the same. There was anger, shame, despair, rage, and terror. It's normal to feel every one of these in a half hour.
Blaming yourself is normal.
You will wonder if it's your fault. Or your partner's. Everyone is your doctor's, nurse's, boss'. Trying to find fault will make you feel better, but there is no sense in this loss. No one is to blame for your child's death. It's normal to try.
Get used to grief.
You will have pockets of sunshine because the people you love will go on being wonderful, but expect the clouds to come back. Don't try to make every day a sunny one.
Right now, nothing else matters. The definitions of words have changed. Food can lose its taste. You might forget to breathe. Don't be tempted to rush through. Don't try to outrun the urge to cry even though you might have to make arrangements, get back to work, or take care of your living children. It will catch up eventually. Go ahead and cry.
I thought my sadness would never end. I decided to stop pushing grief away. I started to breathe a little easier when I embraced loss as a new part of who I am. It will never go away completely. Expect to cry a lot for the rest of your life.
Your partner also lost a child.
Your partner's pain will be different from yours, but expect it to be just as devastating. Their relationship was not physical. They won't have to think about the stillbirth when they go to the bathroom. Their connection was more ephemeral, so it might be harder to deal with.
Everyone will be concerned about you, but you should know that your partner lost a child too, even if they didn't carry it in their body.
You can talk about it.
It hurts them to see you hurt, so they want you to move on. They might be awkward when you talk about your loss. Their pain is not your fault, and you can't change it. If you have the means, I would recommend getting a therapist.
It was important for me to think out loud in order to become functional again. My partner and I went to couple's therapy as well.
It is fine to speak about your loss. Commemoration is important. I got a tattoo to honor my lost child. It's fine to say "my living children" or something similar when describing your family.
It's great to remember your lost child.
The original article is on Insider.