Silence after loss looks like: Sitting in your clouded mind and all things just seems blanked out from your memory, while your body just feels numb, as if you had been submerged in a puddle of water for a lengthy amount of time. Your mind starts playing tricks on you, and you want to feel okay, but okay is still never enough.
Have you found yourself becoming silenced because you feel like no one around you understands?
I’ll be the first to admit that I know that feeling all too well. Sad I know, but it’s my reality. For a whole two years, I suffered in silence before feeling comfortable enough to open-up about how my son’s death really affected me.
Forced to keep a smile and sanity, all to please those around you while walking on eggshells because you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. The looks, the stares, just everything that comes to mind when you feel like everyone around you is just standing in a circle pointing and laughing at you.
In 2016, I had experienced the most unbearable pain that any mom would feel after a traumatic experience. My son was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 around 15 weeks gestation and I was told that he would not make it pass a few days if I were to continue with the pregnancy. Trisomy 13 is a chromosomal condition associated with severe intellectual disability and physical abnormalities in many parts of the body. Individuals with trisomy 13 often have heart defects, brain, or spinal cord abnormalities. They also have very small or poorly developed eyes, extra fingers or toes, an opening in the lip (a cleft lip) with or without an opening in the roof of the mouth (a cleft palate), and weak muscle tone (hypotonia).
Due to the presence of several life-threatening medical problems, many infants with Trisomy 13 die within their first days. Not understanding how and why my baby was diagnosed with a rare condition that’s seen in less than one percent of the African American race, this led me into more confusion and disbelief. Me being the strong person that I am, I didn’t want to hear anything negative because I knew that my faith was stronger than any doctors’ recommendations. Well at least I thought, anyway.
Yes, I know that death is inevitable but what about that inevitable feeling of grief. The feeling of your boobs being engorged with milk and the cries of your newborn that you think you hear. That there is enough to drain a person, mentally and physically. You tell yourself that you will be okay, somehow, or maybe even someday, but just not today and that is okay. Going through the stages of grief really took a toll on me, both mentally and physically. Sitting in denial, still imagining being able to go pick my baby up to bring him home with me.
After realizing that wasn’t realistic, I became angry. I was angry with everyone! Not only did I blame myself, but I also blamed those around me for not being able to understand what I was dealing with at the time. For their selfish ways of expecting me to move on and smile as if I didn’t just experience the most traumatizing situation in my life at the time. I didn’t understand what was happening, how could this happen to me. Why me? I asked myself those same questions every day.
There were times I remember bargaining and pleading to God, asking him to take me instead. Knowing that my son wasn’t come back I kept pleading anyway. Bargaining and pleading, led me into a deep depression, that I suffered with in silence for two years. Two years of putting on a façade, two years of acting like I wanted to be here, two years of guilty, pain, and everything else in between. I wasn’t myself but I knew that eventually, I needed to get up and get myself together. I still have a child who’s worth living for, my husband needed me, I needed me.
One day I woke up and accepted the facts. It was a harsh reality check for me. It was very necessary for me to come to terms with everything that has happened around me. There was a need for me to be mentally and physically stable again. I needed to smile again without forcing it. Dancing!! I loved to dance and needed to dance again to release and let go. I just needed to be Lakesha again. That it was up to me to seek the help of a professional to get back to my happy place.
Finding my voice again after being silenced, unheard, and un-advocated for is what led me to my passion of becoming a birth and postpartum doula. Being a mother of one myself, I realized how crucial professional care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum period is. I have recently started my journey as a doula and have been working in health care for more than 7 years. My goal is that every mother feels grounded, nourished, empowered and ready to take on motherhood! I make sure that each woman that works with me is receiving physical and mental care, both before and after birth. It’s important that mothers receive evidence-based knowledge to make informed decisions; and one on one support from me during this transitional time in a professional, non-biased way.
My experience consisted of a medicated hospital birth, vaginal birth after caesarean, infant loss, and infertility issues as well. I know what it feels like to be pregnant. Also to have the anxiety and fear of the unknown take over. My past has allowed me to know the concerns about how to care for the life of a newborn child. Also, how this new addition may change a family dynamic. I know the desire to want to be a perfect mother. Also, I know the fear of not knowing everything and wondering “how will I ever learn it all?”
I understand all these concerns, which are valid. Which is why I want to take the weight of these worries off your shoulders, so that you are not going through this fragile time alone. I truly believe that a quick and successful recovery after birth is possible with the right support and knowledge.