It’s 3:01 am on October 18th, and I’m thinking of Chrissy Teigen.
I woke up to pee and to feed my 4-day-old baby, and the first thought I had when I sat on the toilet was ‘Chrissy Teigen.’
(Sorry, Chrissy! Or maybe not- my toilet thoughts are usually some of my best thoughts.)
I thought of Chrissy Teigen because I had gone to sleep last night thinking of Chrissy Teigen- and all the nameless, faceless Mamas all over the world like Chrissy Teigen who have lost a child.
Lost a child.
That sentence is my worst fucking nightmare.
It reads so innocuously the first time.
Go back and read it.
Lost a child.
Lost a shoe.
Lost a pencil.
Lost my dog. Have you seen it?
Losing my child is my absolute Worst nightmare.
I cannot fathom it.
I do not let myself go there.
I cannot imagine it.
I do not hope to ever have to.
But, yet- I have.
I have, and I might still, and that is the reality of it.
1 in 4 women ‘lose a child.’
This is why October; Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, is a thing.
There’s a whole month for it, because ‘losing a child’ is everyone’s Worst nightmare, and yet some of us live it every day.
I winced even typing ‘some of Us’, as if I even have the rights to a membership to this club.
I feel like a fraud saying ‘Us’ and lumping myself together with the Real Heroes- the Mothers of Stillborns.
Or the Realest Heroes of them all- the Mamas whose children were born alive and whose babies never got to see their first birthdays.
I have chills all over writing that thought out because I just put my 5-day old baby carefully back to sleep in her bassinet; full of milk (formula from a bottle- but the best milk this particular mama is able to give her).
I just got the Honour, and the Privilege of putting my Second baby girl back to sleep. She is alive. She is breathing, and she is warm.
This year- October hit me differently.
It hits me every year since I lost my first baby in September of 2007, but it hit me differently this year, because this year, I birthed my second baby in a hospital in Calgary in the first hour of October 14th.
My second live-born baby came into this world on October 14th at 12:54 am. Fast and painful and perfect- she exploded out of my body and into my arms.
Hours earlier, while I had been walking my contractions out with my husband down the hallways of this hospital in Calgary, I had noticed a green butterfly on one of the closed doors of the labor and delivery ward that we were in.
I have thought long and hard about whether to include any of these details.
Out of respect for the other family involved, I have decided not to say in this blog post, the name of the hospital I delivered at.
But I am including the details of my daughter’s birth, and of this moment within it, because I have never felt something so deeply or so strongly in my life, and I have never felt so helpless.
My heart broke that night for that family, and it continues to break for them.
I walked past their room that night, breathing in and out, massaging my lower back, waiting for the more painful contractions to come, and I walked past their closed door with the green butterfly on it.
I had remembered reading something on a Mom forum way back when about butterflies being used a symbol of child loss in hospitals.
I stopped walking.
I stared at their closed door.
At their green butterfly.
And I took a deep breath and kept walking.
Hours later, after puking and shitting myself on the labor and delivery bed, and going into shock from the pain of my active labor contractions, and feeling the indescribable pain of my baby’s head emerging through my cervix-
I was holding Lucy Naomi Schofield.
She was mine; I was hers; we had Done it.
She latched onto my breast and suckled hard and fast like a little hungry piglet and I laughed and I cried and I smiled and I took pictures with my husband.
Doctors and nurses and midwives buzzed around the room and said things like ‘second-degree tear’ and ‘placenta looks weird’ and ‘congratulations’ and ‘bla bla bla’ and I heard None of it.
I only saw her.
On my breast.
And then they wheeled me out of my labor and delivery room, and I proudly showed all the nurses at the unit desk my new baby. I lifted her face towards them so they could see her, and they all cooed and congratulated me and complimented her name, and then my husband turned my wheelchair to the right and we started wheeling towards the double doors that lead out of Labor and Delivery, and into Postpartum Care.
It was then that my heart stopped.
We wheeled down the hallway slowly, past the closed door with the green butterfly on it.
I held my baby in my arms- and on the other side of that door- she probably did too.
Mine was breathing- hers was not.
I don’t know her.
I will likely never know her.
But in that moment, I summoned all the love and light and good energy I had and I sent it through her closed door.
The double doors opened, and hours later, I was free to go home with my baby.
It’s been 4 days now since I had my baby, and I finally have the mental space to process all of that.
I woke up two hours ago, thinking of Chrissy Teigen.
Two years ago, she lost her son Jack at 20 weeks.
He was born sleeping.
She made the Very Brave and Very Bold decision to post about it on her social media.
She even posted pictures of herself, in the hospital, moments after the birth- her grief and pain on Full display, for all of her followers, and all the world to see.
People went Nuts about it.
The first wave went like this:
‘Chrissy, we love you! You’re so brave! Our hearts are with you! You’ve got this!’
The second wave went like this:
‘I get it that she lost her baby, that’s sad and all, but like- why did she post pictures? That’s like- So tasteless. What an attention-whore.’
The third wave went like this:
‘Get over yourself, Chrissy, you self-centred, attention-loving bitch. Remember that time that you were drunk and being funny and went on social media and said that shitty thing about that other person, and then they wanted to kill themselves? You’re a bully and a shitty person and maybe losing your child will help you realize that.’
Let me tell you-
There is one group of people that Does Not Need to be Kicked When They Are Already Down-
And I’m pretty fuckin sure the mother who just gave birth to a dead 20-week-old baby is on the top of that fucking list.
All of this happened two years ago.
I am not a celebrity.
I have no power or influence over anyone, but I am a Mom.
And I saw the outpouring of public opinion after Chrissy Teigen’s announcement of her son Jack’s death and I thought ‘Holyyyyyy Fuck do I ever Wish I was friends with Chrissy Teigen right now.’
I would drive to her house; bring her favorite Starbucks order; piles of chocolate and salty snacks. Toys and gifts and hugs for her other two living children. Words of encouragement for her husband John, and then I would go to Chrissy in her bedroom, and pile into bed with her and let her use my sweatpants and cozy shirt as a giant human Kleenex.
I would hold her to my chest and rock her back and forth and let her sob into me for hours.
Then, as the days went by and those Horrible, Terrible comments continued to appear on her social media and all over the news, I would do my best to shield her from them.
I would tell her she was Right to have posted those pictures.
I would tell her it was amazing of her to use her celebrity platform to make infant loss something that people are willing to talk about.
Too many women suffer alone and that isn’t right.
The stats are 1 in 4.
Why do we grieve so privately?
Why do we try to sell this idea that it is somehow more graceful or more elegant to grieve privately and silently?
Is it a question of Manners?!
Is there an Emily Post Guide to Losing a Child that I was supposed to have read somewhere?!
I would do my best to shield Chrissy from the haters. I would hold her some more while she cried.
And then we would get creative and spend hours making voodoo dolls of the Worst of her online detractors, and eventually, I would get her to laugh again.
Somehow, someway, I would help my grieving friend find her way back to laughter.
THAT is what a Mom who has lost a child needs.
She doesn’t need silence.
She doesn’t need your opinions.
She doesn’t need to grieve privately.
She can grieve however she wants, and as loudly as she wants, and for as long as she wants.
That is her Right. She has Earned it.
I need to go back to sleep; I’m exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically.
But before I go back to sleep; I had to take the time to write this post.
Writing is my healing.
It is my catharsis.
It is my strength.
It is my way of coming to grips with this beautiful, wonderful, tragic and savage world that we live in.
Infant Loss and Awareness is a thing.
It needs to become More of a thing in the future.
People need to get comfortable talking about these things, so that grieving parents don’t need to suffer alone and in silence.
This October I want to:
Remember my lost ones:
Matthew- September 2007
Henry- April 2018
Give thanks for my live ones:
Sadie- April 2019
Lucy- October 2021
And I want to send a whole lot of love to the family down the hall with the green butterfly. I am So sorry for your loss.
I am going back to sleep.
In the morning, I get to inhale the sweet scent of my newborn girl, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
To my little lost ones who came before her- I look forward to meeting you again some day.