From every loss there are gains : it’s your job to find them.
18 months ago, I was sat in a delivery suite, a purple butterfly sign stuck to my room window door so the midwives knew we’d had a loss, weeping to Adam that we were broken and would never be ok. Eva was up the corridor in her little fish tank, wired up and battling day in day out. I was unable to think past a minute at a time. You could not have told me that I would be me again today, laughing, enjoying life, confident in myself, and at peace with my grief (well….most of the time with the occasional, forgivable wobble), and hopeful and excited for the future.
Its taken a lot of hard work and a spot of counselling for me to get into this mindset after everything we’ve been through. ‘How could there possibly be positives from what has happened?’ I used to think, but perspective is an amazing thing. I’m due to start counselling again, just to see where I’m at, now that more time has passed since we got Eva home, and I’m actually exited to see what lightbulb moments it brings on my second visit. A lot has happened since I last sat on that fateful sofa. I have a new job, I’ve started this blog and Instagram account, I’ve grown confidence in the mum world, I’ve worked on myself through self-care and surrounding myself with positive people (minus the ex best friend…awks) Eva is now in nursery, she’s smashing all her pediatric checkups and development checks, and we are a happy, strong little family unit.
One big ‘eureka!’ moment last time at counselling was not to look at loss as black and white, and that even in the worst losses there are gains. I found at the time that I could list a lot, but I didn’t necessarily believe them. Its definitely been a ‘fake it til you feel it’ game. Eventually though, I woke up and started actually believing my little pep talks and every time I wobble, I remind myself of the ‘gains’ list: I have gained strength beyond anything I ever knew possible. I have gained unconditional love for Eva. I have gained a family. I have gained incredible new friends (hey, Claire!). I have gained knowledge in who I do not need in my life to make it happier and healthier. I have gained patience. I have gained awareness and compassion to what other people may be going through. I have gained a passion for living life for today. I have gained motivation to teach Eva that nothing in life can ever stop you from being happy and that you really can get through anything. I could go on…
This was a topic of conversation which came up during the Baby Loss Hour event in April this year (I know I mention it a lot but it was just ace). As I chatted to the panelists after the event, I made a self-declaration of ‘I’m nicer since loss’. Pre-loss Louise was highly strung, high maintenance, overly feisty, argumentative and pretty selfish. Those who I was speaking with agreed that they too were better versions of themselves since experiencing the heartbreak and the recover themselves after loss. Not that any of us would learn those lessons the had way we have done, but still.
I used to think that what had happened encompassed everything in my life – it meant that all of my life and everyone in it was broken and would never see any light or joy again. I do agree with a lot of statements of loss when people say ‘you are never the same person’, but whilst that used to make me sad, now it makes me proud. It’s stating the obvious when I say I would give anything to have not had to lose a baby to learn that in fact I was a bit of a dick before. It would be nice to still be in blissful ignorance of what life can throw at you. I would however now be oblivious of the gains of strength, love and kindness from experiencing unimaginable pain and learning how to grow from it. There are still days where I hate what had happened so much I could set our house on fire….but most days I can see my life for what I have, not for what I don’t. I wish I had learned the lessons for a different reason, I wish that badly, but I’m at the same time forever grateful for them. I am proud of who I am these days and whilst I would change what happened in a heartbeat, I wouldn’t change me for the world. Now that’s some gain.
To anyone who is me 18 months ago right now – I know it hurts to even lift your head up, but keep going. One day you will come out of the darkness and you will be forever changed and forever strong, and you will be so grateful to yourself that you didn’t give up. I would highly highly recommend finding the right counsellor’s sofa to sit on like I did if you can, or at least find the right person to listen down the phone. Let it out, face it head on, process it and find your own gains. They will be there, and once you see them its so powerful and liberating. Loss does not mean you are over.
Sending lots of love to anyone who needs it. Lou xx.