Many women refer to their stillbirth as the “before and after” changing point, the life they had before the stillbirth and the life they have after it is not the same, it’s changed.
That’s not the case for me. While it is a significant point in my life, I don’t think I lived my life after stillbirth wholly changed and is now different from the way I was before the stillbirth.
I think the reason for this is the fact that before my stillbirth, I went through death and loss several times. I lost my grandfather and grandmother during my early twenties and lost my parents around my late twenties. My mom passed away in October 2001 when I was 26 years old, and my dad passed away two years and seven months after my mom.
Losing my parents are the losses that divide my life to “before” and “after,” especially my mom’s death, which caught me when I was going through a storm in my life, and her passing just made everything so much harder.
Stillbirth is not the point where my life got turned upside down. It is the experience that taught me what deep sadness is. “Sadness” is the best word to describe stillbirth for me.
Other experiences taught me of great anger, of compassion to the little girl I was when I went through other traumas and difficulties. But stillbirth is such a bitter experience, on every level possible, soul and body.
Sometimes I wonder how stillbirth affected my motherhood. Am I a different mother than I was before the stillbirth?
I’m not talking about the first few months, processing and grieving. Obviously, things at this time will be different.
To answer this question, I feel I need to look at a broader one: Did stillbirth change me?
Deciding to celebrate
I think I learned certain things from stillbirth as a whole experience, but I don’t think it changed anything essential in me.
Women who went through stillbirth talk about losing their innocence. They say every joy comes with concerns and doubts. I’m glad it didn’t happen to me.
But one of the things I remember is deciding to use every happy occasion in my life to have grand celebrations.
I think the only force that can stand against death is life. Therefore, the decision to celebrate was, for me, equal to choosing to live my life as good and happy as I can.
The first time I felt I want to celebrate after my stillbirth in 2010 was my boy’s Shahar 5th Birthday, which came four months after the stillbirth.
Since we planned a party, I decided I’m going to celebrate through the roof.
I saw that Angie from Bakerella not only makes the most amazing cake pops, but she also made it even better when she introduced me to cupcake pops.
Oh, how I LOVED cupcake pops!
I rehearsed, got sent ingredients from abroad, made some changes, and created about 40 cupcake pops, hand made by me.
Later I realized that it was occupational therapy for me. This little adventure helped me move to the next phase in my healing and brought great joy into my life at a time I needed it most.
“I choose to be in the light.”
The decision to celebrate every happy occasion changed throughout the years and is now a need and wish to be happy.
It’s quite easy to make me happy, generally speaking, but I feel my need to be happy grew with time, and that need stems from that decision I made after my stillbirth.
Alan Cumming, who is my greatest inspiration for writing and talking about stillbirth (and an inspiration for so many other things in my life), said in one of the thousands interviews he gave (yes, I saw many of them): “I have both darkness and light inside me, I choose to be in the light.”
He’s right, you know.
It is a choice. There are times in my life in which I had to make that choice every day consciously. Other times, the choice is like a reflex; I just do it.
I do believe it is a choice. From the moment I understood that I knew what I had to do, I knew I needed help, and I asked for it. I knew I needed to take steps each day, even little ones, which will lead me towards the life I wanted to lead.
I did not “move on” from my stillbirth. It’s not “over and done with.”
This experience walks with me after processing it, after healing. It’s integrated into my life.
I keep dealing with it, each time on a different level.
It is a part of my bundle.