Still Mother. Two words I never thought would ever be used to describe me.
One day, you’re living your life, preparing for arguably the most exciting and life-changing milestone and then, death steps in.
I can’t speak for others who have suffered a loss similar to mine, because the fact is — while we may share vague similarities in our stories, experiences, emotions and life after loss — our losses are all different. But I can tell you, for me, I felt blindsided, distraught, empty. This weird thing happens where you feel nothing and everything at the same time. There are never the right words to truly express how you feel and no one ever has quite the right words to try and console you.
After I lost my daughter, I know the people in my life wanted to be there for me, but no one quite knew how. Any words of comfort any one had to offer almost felt insulting or felt as though perhaps they were just trying to fill the silence.
Being a still mother is something no one ever prepares you for, let alone discusses as a possibility. Pregnancy brings announcements, excitement and love. It’s not supposed to end abruptly and tragic. No one ever prepares you for leaving the hospital without your baby. No one prepares you for the mornings you spend in an empty nursery, or the proper protocol of breaking down all of the baby furniture you spent nights putting together. But this is the life of a Still Mother.
I lost my daughter a year and half ago, the wound is still fresh. After the dust settles and you continue the motions of your life, the days get easier. You cry less. You laugh more. You appreciate the love and support surrounding you. But, you never forget. Not for a single day.
The frequent sting comes when you see other new moms with their babies, or whenever someone innocently asks if you have children. I still haven’t quite found the “right” response, not that I feel there truly is one… Regardless of how you choose to answer, it prompts questions and then an undeniable awkwardness and apologies. Some would argue a simple “no” would suffice, but then it’s as if denying your child’s existence. There’s no manual on how to properly live life after baby. I think the best thing we can do some days as still mothers is simply survive and sometimes that’s enough.
I’m Ashleigh McDonald. I am 28 and live in Providence, RI. I work in marketing specializing in social media and creative content. Quinn Beverly is my only child, whom I lost unexpectedly around my 8th month of pregnancy ultimately due to heart failure. I have a 3 year old collie/shepherd mix named Athena who keeps me plenty busy in my off-time. I eagerly look forward to football season every year- go Pats! I spend my time with family, friends and try to give back in Quinn’s memory whenever I can. I carry her memory with me every day and have been vocal on my personal social media channels about both her life and my struggles. By being open and vulnerable, my hopes are to remove the stigma surrounding infant loss while also hopefully helping others who have also suffered a similar loss.