What happens after

After I lost my child at 24 weeks, life paused. The physical continued. The sun rose, it set. I bled, my milk came in. But I wasn't prepared for life, so I hid from it.

Labour & delivery are hard on the body. When most mothers are faced with a crying newborn, they deal with it. They push past the pain, and time carries on. When you have the aftermath without the child, you wallow. I didn't leave the couch for a week. I didn't have the attention span to read, every TV show and movie felt like an emotional minefield of kids, so I spent 100 hours in a farming simulation. Unwilling to think, in every waking moment I planted crops, fished in the river, befriended villagers, and went foraging. It was a respite. Nothing bad happens in Stardew Valley.

My body healed quickly. My mind got bored. So I started to venture out. At first, I just got used to crying in public. I cried at the coffee shop. At the library. When meeting my boss for lunch.

Within a few weeks, I went back to work. I felt dimmed, and I needed distraction. The mini-crises and constant needs of work felt like solace.

I missed Huxley every day. Sometimes every minute. And that was okay. I talked about him, and my experience. I'm incredibly grateful to my care team - midwives, doctors and therapists - and to my friends, the amazing women who gave me the space to talk, to mourn, and, yes, to cry. (A lot of people are uncomfortable talking about the bad things or the sad things, but pretending it never happened makes it worse. I wanted to talk about my baby. If you have someone in your life who went through a loss, maybe they'll want to talk about it or maybe they won't, but give them the chance to make that decision, as opposed to ignoring the subject.)

There were especially hard moments. No one should have to go through funeral arrangements for a child, and there's something particularly heartbreaking about seeing a death certificate that lists date of death identical and alongside date of birth. I looked at the photos we took that day a couple of times, before I had to put them away. He was too still, too incomplete.

Heart

We scattered his ashes at our favourite place. I said goodbye, but he never went anywhere - and I'm grateful for it. And so we continue, as life does, together.