real life

'Like Chrissy Teigen, I lost my baby. Now I feel my body has no purpose.'

This post and its images deal with pregnancy loss and stillbirth and could be triggering for some readers.

When Chrissy Teigen announced the birth and death of her beautiful son Jack, her heartbreaking post took me straight back to the hospital room where I delivered my fourth child Miles.

Like Jack he was delivered stillborn over halfway through my pregnancy - a time when you really start to blossom, your bump gets bigger and it's clear to the outside world that a baby is on its way.

Almost a year after losing Jack, Chrissy posted on Instagram: "When you lose a baby halfway through, your body just pauses. It has nothing to do. No one to feed. And you’re just... stuck. Stuck with saggy boobs that were prepping to be milk bags, a belly that was ready to bake."

This sense of being stuck and paused in time is all too familiar to me, and likely to be something felt deeply by the one in four women who experience pregnancy loss. 

We rarely turn our minds to the realities of delivering a preterm baby who doesn’t survive, but after giving birth to Miles I felt like I’d been thrown into a cruel version of reality somewhere between pregnancy and post-partum recovery.

Watch: A tribute to the babies we've lost. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.
ADVERTISEMENT

After Miles was delivered, I was overwhelmed with fear, horror, love, and pride. 

I was expecting a warm, screaming newborn, in its place I was handed a still, silent infant. 

There was no flicker of life, no suggestion that some miracle would occur, and he would start breathing. He was already gone. 

Nothing can quite explain how gut-wrenching this is and I still can’t find the words to adequately describe what it was like. 

In a time you were expecting life, you see and feel death. I had an overwhelming feeling of: "What now? What am I supposed to do?"

You kind of know what is expected of you when you deliver a breathing baby. 

You hold your baby, feed your baby, send out texts announcing this exciting, happy news. 

What on earth are you supposed to do for a baby who has already passed away?

You are emotionally at your absolute lowest, confused, heartbroken or perhaps deeply shocked and completely detached from the reality of the situation.

In this moment it seemed inconceivable that I would have to say goodbye, that I would never get to see, hold, or feel my child in the future and watch him grow. 

The hospital room had an ambience, feel and scent I associated strongly with the arrival of my other children and I had vivid flashbacks of when they were delivered, which compounded the tragedy of Miles' death. 

Everything seemed so familiar, yet utterly foreign at the same time.

ADVERTISEMENT

After coming home from hospital, I wandered about the house unsure of what I was supposed to do with myself. 

I’d just given birth, I was exhausted, hurting physically and emotionally void. Every other time I’d given birth, I’d had a baby to care for. I knew the drill and my arms ached to do these things, but I had no baby to do them for. 

I think even as a first-time mum, your natural instincts kick in. 

I had to sleep holding a teddy bear for weeks, as I felt a physical hole in my body where Miles had grown and needed something to fill my empty arms. 

I felt disoriented; not being pregnant, but despite being postpartum, having no baby to care for.

Amid this, my body was going through the standard post-birth recovery process. 

My milk came in, I bled heavily for weeks, my stomach was enormous. I was exhausted and emotional – so emotional. It was like I’d been cast into a no-man's-land of hormonal imbalance. 

My pregnancy had ended abruptly and prematurely and while those hormones were not in competition with the postpartum ones, neither of them seemed to know whose turn it was.

My post-birth hormones had not quite caught up on the fact there was no baby, as the urge to nurture after birth was there and it was very strong. 

That’s why, when everything goes to plan, Mother Nature is a genius. 

We are flooded with hormones afterwards which help us care for our child, but when there is no baby to nurture, these instinctive urges have nowhere to go, and it feels like Mother Nature is being a right old cow.

My body also felt completely out at sea. 

The squishy belly and big boobs I’d had after giving birth to my three older children hadn’t bothered me, but my lumps and bumps after Miles were a constant reminder that I had been very pregnant and now, no longer was. 

ADVERTISEMENT

It felt superficial in the midst of grief to be bothered by my figure but as Chrissy said: "I’d be lying if I said this did not majorly suck. Not only are you diabolically sad at what could have been, but you have this daily reminder every time you look in the goddamn mirror."

It’s a hard topic to talk about, but it’s important that we do, so that other women facing similar heartbreak don’t do so feeling completely alone and misunderstood. 

It’s a loss which sits cruelly outside of life’s natural order and the grief which follows can feel un-survivable. To add to this, feeling as though your body is stuck; unable to feed, grow and nurture the baby you’d desperately hoped for adds another layer of pain and there is absolutely no shame in talking about this.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

Annabel Bower is the author of Miles Apart, a heartfelt guide to stillbirth, miscarriage and baby loss and the founder of the Miles Apart Foundation which donates copies of the Miles Apart book to hospitals across Australia to support families leaving hospitals with empty arms. Miles Apart is also available to purchase at  www.milesapart.online and Booktopia.

Feature Image: Instagram / @miles__apart.

We need you! Tell us about your skincare routine for a chance to win a $50 gift voucher.
MMSurvey