Two weeks ago was the second anniversary or Rayna’s day(s). July 25 is the day we found out she died, and July 27 is the day she was delivered. Last year, we went camping and we wanted to do something similar – to get out of our house and our usual routine and spend time together as a family – but not risk LT not sleeping through the night at a campground. Nick and I were fortunate to be able to take the whole week off of work, and we spent a few days at a friend’s cabin in the woods.
Stillbirth isn’t only an emotional and spiritual experience, it is also physical.
I’ve never been a huge fan of my body. I mean, I know I’m physically strong. I run, a lot… many half marathons, even a full marathon in 2014. I lift weights and can move furniture on my own. I’m strong. But, I often wish to be less strong in order to be more skinny. Getting pregnant meant it was one of the first times in my life I was not actively trying to lose weight. Freedom!
I don’t have links to specific sources to back this up, but there is no known or definitive cause in about 50% of all stillbirths. We were given that statistic while still in the hospital, and about 6 weeks later leaned we are in the 50%. This is a frustrating statistic, and fortunately there are organizations like Star Legacy Foundation who are working to further research on stillbirth and help prevent other families from experiencing this loss. While we wait for science to find answers, we sit in the mystery of our own story.
When Sarah became pregnant with Rayna, I became a father. During the pregnancy I was doing fatherly things for Mom—getting her pizza when she asked, rubbing her shoulders, helping wherever I could, whenever needed. Those were some roles that came with the territory.
Since we lost Rayna, I have been working to comprehend what my role as a father of a stillborn is.
Sure, it’s the title of a Nicholas Sparks book (that I haven’t read) and subsequent movie (that I haven’t seen), but it is also how it felt making the empty drive from my parents’ place back to our home. People often speak of empty arms following infant loss, though they overlook the empty bellies. This drive was originally supposed to take place after a baby shower and a babymoon trip to Colorado. I was supposed to be 34 weeks pregnant on this drive with a belly full of kicking baby, but instead I was holding a box. My belly was empty, and my arms reminded me why.
This fall I took a class about writing grief through lyric poetry and narrative. This was a beautiful opportunity to put words to the sea of sorrow I felt with two brilliant professional writers as navigators. I journeyed with others in various stages of the grieving process, opening our hearts together through writing. I looked forward to these evenings, of holding a pen in my hand and writing about Rayna while facing the waves. The class stretched the way I saw myself and the way I wrote. You will see more works from and inspired by those six weeks throughout the future of the blog.
During our first gathering we skimmed an article entitled How to Give a Eulogy, and the idea of telling the truth in eulogy, even when it is not all flattering, stuck with me. We did not have a funeral for Rayna, feeling satisfied with the dedication we shared in the hospital, so through the class I wrote a eulogy. There was peace and levity in writing about how I knew and experienced Rayna: