I no longer wait for my husband to roll over and fall asleep before silently crying myself to sleep for hours, I no longer wake up in the mornings thinking it has all just been a bad dream and I’m going to find that I am still pregnant with a healthy baby. I am no longer a prisoner in my own home afraid to leave the house, afraid to look at people, afraid to talk to them, afraid to answer the phone or open the front door to the postman. I am no longer unable to eat, to make decisions, to function, to laugh, smile, talk about my daughter, to see pregnant women or newborn babies.
I can go to work everyday with a smile on my face, I can serve my customers, manage my staff and make business plans. I can hold normal conversations without wanting to scream ‘how can you talk about such stupid things when my child is dead.’ I can laugh and joke like I used to.
I can do my crafting, walk my dog, clean my house, sleep alone when my husband works away, focus on something on the TV or a book I am reading, do the food shop alone, I can do all the ‘normal things’ that I used to do before I was even pregnant. In fact if you didn’t know me or spot the hand and footprint necklace I wear everyday you would never even know that I had given birth to my beautiful little girl and then watched her die in her daddy's arms; that’s how fine I am.
Sometimes even I believe this. But when I am alone with my thoughts and I dare to scratch below the surface of how I am feeling, I know that I am anything but fine. Fine is the last thing I am feeling. I am wearing fine like a mask to protect me. Like if I don’t I will fall back down in those depths of hell and never get back out again.
If I am fine then why do I not dream at night, why do I touch my belly every morning when I wake, why do I have a desire to warn pregnant women of the dangers, why do I look at people who have newborns and wonder if they have ever had a miscarriage, interrupted a pregnancy, still birth or neonatal death. If I am fine why do I need my job so much like a pillar of strength, stability, self worth and routine but why do I hate it so much. I see no point to it anymore I am putting money in someone else’s pocket just to go home to an empty, silent house every night. A house once so filled with hopes and dreams now an empty shell, the silence so deafening, that room with all the baby things. If I am fine why when I craft can I not use pink wool anymore, why am I afraid to use it is it because I know it will make me cry. Why can I not write in my pregnancy journal, it still says that I am 18 weeks my last post was about how nervous and excited I was for the 20 week scan. Why can I not bring myself to write what happened during that scan, the news, the research, the decision, the birth, the after math. If I am fine why can I not bring myself to order my daughters’ headstone. Is it because I know it will make this real? Seeing my baby's name on a headstone there really is no denying it. If I am fine why do I look at my body in the mirror everyday and hate who I have become, how big I am, never have I been this big. But why do I not want to do anything about it? Is it because this is how pregnancy has shaped me and I don’t want to lose that, like it might be another part of my daughter that I have lost? The stomach, the thick glossy pregnancy hair, large breasts; I hate it but I need it. Why do I hide these thoughts and feelings. From myself, my husband, my family, my friends, my councillor, my colleagues and even other people who have lost babies. Why can I not just be honest.
When you ask me how I am why can I not just look you in the eyes and say ‘actually I am really sad, guilty, angry, lost I have no words to describe the pain that I feel.’
Is it because you have told me that I have to stop being sad now, I can always have another, it was for the best, at least she won’t live a half life in pain. Is it because you think I am insane, you move me to another workplace, demote me, take half my pay from me, tell me I am ill, that I need to get over this. You counsel me, you're meant to help me, but I know that you're paid by my company and that I cannot truly trust you. Is it because you just don’t understand and telling you the truth has already cost me too much.
You see your question of ‘how are you’ has damaged me even more, has made me become a liar, forced me to push my feelings aside and cost me my job. So how can you expect me to answer in any other way? This is the only way to protect myself so I will put my mask back on and tomorrow if you ask me ‘how are you’ my answer will be as always with a smile on my face ‘I’m fine.’