The Harsh Realities

There’s not much that you can say you “expect” after the loss of a child.  Every day is unexpected; will the grief blindly sneak up on me today?   Will the guilt hit me?  Will I see a mom and baby and instantly be plagued with the thoughts of “what if”?  All of these are things that burden us who’ve lost children and these are things we work through, the things that help us relate to one another.

But, what about the other unexpected realities after losing your baby; the decisions you’re left making afterwards that no person should ever be left facing? How long will you keep your angel by your side before saying your goodbyes?  Do you want to hold a memorial service for your baby?  What do you do with all of the nursery items you’ve spent months collecting and putting together?

No one prepares you for leaving a hospital without your baby in your arms, or how to even process that.  No one prepares you for the pain of having your milk come in, but having no baby to feed.  You’re left miserably in pain while you wait for that to dry up knowing it shouldn’t be this way.

Then comes the constant mail you receive afterwards, all targeted for new moms and newborns.  And then there is the countless number of hospital bills you’re left with.  Inevitably, you end up hating mail of any kind as it becomes a reminder of all that you have lost and all the dashed dreams you had built up in your mind.  For me, the hospital bills became insulting.  I was filled with rage.  Here I am childless, still grieving, yet, I should be in a hurry to pay for services rendered?  I was unprepared for anything of this magnitude, on so many levels.

I felt disbelief, shock and fear when the doctors first told me my daughter was sick.  I felt angry when they couldn’t tell me why.  I felt protective when my doctors insisted they induce me, knowing it was all too early.  I felt hopeless after my daughter was born and I realized I had only limited time to hold her and study her features.  I felt numb when the funeral home would call and say they required a signature.  I felt angry when I was left with nothing but medical costs and memories.

These are the things you can never feel prepared for and these are the things you seldom hear people mention.

But now I feel grateful to have at least been blessed with her, short as our time was.  I feel empowered to try to help others who have been burdened with similar situations.  But, grief is messy and I’m not perfect. I still feel moments of anger, waves of grief, and I still feel protective, but now, I’m protective of her memory.

As I get ready to celebrate Quinn’s second birthday, I can only hope that all of these unexpected and unfortunate series of events have helped, and continue to help, shape me into the woman and mother I was always meant to be.

Ashleigh McDonald

Ashleigh McDonald

I’m 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 removethe stigma surrounding infant loss while also hopefully helping others who have also suffered a similar loss.
Ashleigh McDonald

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I’m 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.

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