Life after having a Stillborn

Today is still-born awareness day. Our daughter, Aria Dawson, changed my life on May 19, 2011.


Too many women suffer in silence, because this topic is so uncomfortable.  Others don’t know how to help with the grieving process, so often times the Mother feels alone. I am so glad we have a day like today to bring awareness and support. I would have been lost without the support we received from the Funeral Home, the cemetery, the group SHARE who offered counseling, helped dress Aria and did molds of her hands and feet, and for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep for the beautiful pictures they did of us with her.  That is why this day is so important.  To get awareness out that there is help, and that women do not have to suffer alone.

Here is Heather’s Story:

You know the saying, “Nothing will ever be the same after this.”  Everyone has a moment that you know changes your life.  That day becomes the date that you determine time.  Your life before that date, and your life after that date.

My date is May 19th, 2011.

I was in my third trimester of my fourth pregnancy.  I went in for a Dr.s appointment and my baby no longer had a heart beat.  I was admitted into labor and delivery 3 hours later.   After 10 hours of labor I delivered a baby girl.  A baby girl I wouldn’t get to bring home.  To read more about that story, go HERE.

In this post I want to talk more about life after the date.  After we said our Hello’s and Good-bye’s to our baby girl.  After we visited the funeral home.  Picked out her plot, her casket.  After Aria was buried.  After healing from giving birth and letting my milk dry up.

After the month of not wanting to leave my house.  After quitting my job because I couldn’t possibly be a good coach to my girls when my heart wasn’t in it.  After I stopped going to church for awhile because there are so many babies there.  After I cancelled activities with friends because I didn’t have the energy to pretend to care about what was going on in their lives, and I didn’t want to talk about mine.

After the months of pulling away from my husband.  After the months of hiding my tears from my kids.  After the repeated attempts to tell everyone, including myself, that I was okay.

It took me about a year from the time I had her to the time when I was authentically happy again.  It’s been over five years now, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.  What she would be doing, what she would look like, what kind of little personality she would have.  What her laugh would sound like.  I always know exactly how old she would be.  She would be in Pre-K right now.  She would be excited about Halloween.  She would probably have 3 different costumes picked out, just like her sister did at that age.

I think about how my 12 year old daughter would have a sister.  I think about how cute my teenage boys would be with her.  I think about my husband buying her all the shoes she could ever want, because that’s what he does for the girls in his life.  Oh, she’d probably be a terror!  She’d be oh so spoiled by every single one of us.  We love her so much.

After turns into a beginning.  The beginning of a new normal.

May 19th, 2011 was my date.

My after was hard for a long time.  And I still have my days. But mostly my after is beautiful.

My after is better than my before, because I love more now.  I celebrate more now.  I see more!  My after turned in the beginning of me really living and celebrating my life.

The thing about having your heart broken, is it has to grow bigger and stronger to repair itself.  My heart is bigger and stronger now.  I see people differently.  I see life differently.  I see myself differently.

We were able to spend a few hours with Aria before the funeral director came to take her, and I promised her that I would live a happy life for her.  (More on that here. )

Before May 19th, I was a happy girl.  I was content.  I was satisfied.  My life was good, no real complaints.  But I didn’t really live FOR anything.  I just did my day to day.  I never tried anything new.  I wasn’t adventurous.  I was just happy with getting by.  I had a life, but I was truly LIVING it.

After May 19th, I try not to take things for granted.  I push myself.  I try new things.  I see that this great big world has things to offer ME.  I am worthy of great things.  I can do great things.  I would have never in a million years had the courage to start this magazine before.  I would have never had the desire to try new things, like running in the Dirt in the Skirt a few years ago with my sister.  I now know I can do anything.  I now realize the importance of showing myself, and my children, that life has so much to offer and to take advantage of every opportunity.

Before, I was happy.  After, I know what happiness is.

Everyone has their date.  How are you living your after?

You’ll never get over the heartache and trials you’ve had to endure.  Your heart will never “recover.”  But you can rediscover!

Rediscover who you are.  Rediscover your dreams.  Rediscover life!  Bring energy to it.  Bring urgency to it.  Bring purpose to it.  Love bigger.  Love stronger.

Bad things happen, but time doesn’t stop.  So often I wanted a time out.  I needed to catch my breath. The rest of the world was going about their days like nothing happened, and I was sitting there thinking, “I just lost my baby!!”  I just needed everything to stop!

Haven’t we all had that moment?  When things seem to be spinning out of control, and nothing is going right?   And all you can think is, “I just need it to stop!”  But, time is cruel.  It doesn’t stop or even slow down for anyone or any circumstance.

Time Keeps going, so you have to keep growing.

You have to keep getting up.  You have to keep trying.  Some days I got up to get my kids off to school just to get back in bed until they got home again.  And honestly, that was ALL I could do.  But I did it.  And after a few weeks, I was able to do a little more.  Little by little your happiness will grow.  Day by day, step by step, you’ll grow more.

Your after can be better than your before.  You just have to decide to keep going.  Don’t give in.  Don’t give up.   Keep growing your happiness.

You might ask yourself,  “How can I ever be the same?”

I know I did.  I remember thinking that life would be completely different now.  How could life be the same after losing a child?  How could my heart ever be the same after such a loss?   How will I ever be the same person that I was before?  How will life go back to the way it was?

I’ll tell you, I’m not the same.  But, “Nothing will ever be the same” doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

My date was May 19th, 2011.  And nothing is the same.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.


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