Just waking in the morning can be a difficult experience for a mother that has experienced a stillbirth. Sleep can be disturbed, as we find it difficult to switch off. Perhaps our sleeping patterns had adjusted towards the end of pregnancy, being awake feeling uncomfortable, or our baby kicking us at night kept us awake. We look forward to the time when our baby is born, we know that there will be more sleepless nights ahead of us, but we look forward to being woken at night, and to hold and feed our baby.
For most of us, it never occurs, that stillbirth might happen. Most of us were never told that it existed in modern times. We never think that towards the end of pregnancy our baby might just die and when it does happen, it is beyond what is even reasonably comprehensible.
Waking first thing
It is unknown what happens during our sleep. I was once told, that whilst we sleep we go home to spirit. As this is our spiritual home. Numerous women recall how they felt in the early days as they woke first thing. At night before sleep, we often fall asleep with tears down our face. Tears of sadness, as we know that tonight, we will not be woken by our baby kicking, and neither will we wake to feed our baby during the night. It is at night, when all is quiet, that we feel that sense of ‘nothingness’, and it is very lonely isolating experience.
When we wake first thing, just for a minute or two, we wake just as we always did, as we had every other day for the rest of our lives. Or at least how we did before we learned that our baby had died. It can take a minute or two for our body to come back to reality. And when reality hits,the grief and the pain can feel overwhelming.
Immediately upon awakening, it is as if it had never happened, we forget, and we can wake up cheerfully. But suddenly, as we become full awake a few minutes later, the nightmare of our worst reality, is remembered. Not only is our baby not a part of us, but he or she is not sleeping in the bedroom next door either. And we remember, that he or she never will be. Our hearts ache as this horrible realisation sinks in. We feel a sense of panic. It sinks in slowly like the weight of a brick weighing down our heart. Often, unlike other grief, our bodies are still programmed to be taking care of our baby, and so, we have this longing searching feeling for our baby. It is the most awful feeling in the world. A feeling like you are searching for something. A searching and a longing, but the reality of knowing that it is something that you will never find.
Grief comes in waves, but stillborn grief, when we wake first thing, just for a few minutes, we forget. Just for a few minutes we are awake, but we have forgotten. Just for a few minutes, we feel that our baby is still a part of us and that it hasn’t happened. Then we stretch, wake fully and harsh reality hits. Like a bolt of lightening, it hits us, pain washing over us over us, as if we had just been told ‘I am sorry there is no heartbeat’… and our heart pounds, and we feel desperately sick.
No longer are we protected by the hospital, no longer are we surrounded by people, family and friends. We are alone, alone in our bed, with our grief, and the awful realisation of what has happened. The desperate longing feeling once again hits us, and we long to go back to sleep, or even back to a few minutes earlier, when just for a while, our minds, bodies and hearts tricked us and everything felt normal.
I like to think that it is true, that when we sleep we return home to spirit, and just for a while, we spend time with our babies in heaven whilst we sleep. I think that this is why it is such a terrible shock, when we finally wake fully, and reality sinks in. Just for a while we had that initial feeling of disillusionment and just for a while…. for a few minutes of the day, we had forgotten, and life was just as it should be.