A Sweet Spirit.

Pregnancy loss, baby loss, infant loss... things that can make you bitter. Bitter because your world is laying in fragmented pieces at your feet. Bitter because everywhere you look you see new Mum's with their adorable cooing newborns in glistening prams. Bitter because at every turn there is a beautiful football-shaped bump staring you in the face. Bitter because it looks as though everyone is glowing and you are feeling completely and utterly empty. But let me tell you, it doesn't have to make you bitter.

For me, cultivating a sweet spirit in the days leading up to and following the death of my son was a deliberate and difficult choice. I knew that I still wanted to support my friends who were carrying a precious life, I knew that I wanted to be able to rejoice with them, I knew that I wanted to continue to feel joyful when I saw a mum nursing her babe. The truth is though, that you are now part of a very different 'club'. In a matter of days, we had gone from looking at themes for our nursery and admiring cute, tiny outfits to facing up to the reality that our baby boy would not make it.

When I talk about this, I in no way speak about it like I never felt a sting of envy or that I never felt pain. I did. I had numerous meltdowns in the middle of supermarkets while looking down at my empty yet still large stomach. I saw many families pushing around babies in the pram that I had chosen. Yet amidst all that, I also saw new and precious life. I saw miracles. I saw bumps forming and getting bigger. I saw birth announcements. I saw first family photos and ultimately I saw joy.

You see when your baby dies your entire outlook on pregnancy and the miracle of life changes. When you see a pregnant woman, you thank God that they are okay. When a Mum mentions the smallest change in their babies movements or symptoms you panic for them and you spend hours thinking and praying about them. All this because you know how precious and fleeting life can be.

Developing a sweet spirit isn't about neglecting your reality. It's about knowing that you can still find joy in someone else's story while looking for it in your own. It's asking about a pregnancy when yours has ended. It's taking a meal to a new family. It's celebrating in their triumph. It isn't a false spirit, it's one that truly grows over time.

I wish I could tell you how I transitioned from feeling pain every time I saw an announcement to feeling excitement. I wish I could tell you how I learned to celebrate while I was mourning. The only thing I can share with you, however, is that grief and gratitude go hand in hand.

I feel that often we are taught that we can only feel either joy or pain at once but it is a lie and a myth that will make you resentful. There have been many a time where I have celebrated with someone who had met their healthy and precious baby while simultaneously recognising that mine is heaven side. There have been times that I've looked at pregnant stomachs in anticipation of a baby's arrival while still knowing my womb was hollow.

Jealousy does not need to be something that sneaks into your grieving process because it is already so terribly complicated. Let's learn to celebrate with each other, to root for each other and enjoy the fruit together.

I know that one day when I am walking around with my bump again that there will be many women that look on with sadness and many of them will not know the path that I have walked or that I have two children and none of them you can see. When my perspective changed and I realised that I didn't know the story behind a glowing pregnant woman or an announcement, my whole journey changed. What about if you see yet another announcement from someone you know has had no losses? Learn to celebrate!

Motherhood is not marked by how many children you have on earth. Motherhood is defined by overwhelming love which you experience whether your baby lived or died.

Kind words are like honey. Sweet to the soul.


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