“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she is, but she is not, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.” -Unknown

It has been almost four weeks since I found out that my first baby had hydrops. It has been almost four weeks since my world started to unravel. June 30, 2016 was a mess of tears, runny mascara, heartbreak and questions. First it was “why me?”, then it was “how did this happen?”, “can we fix it?”, and “how do I get past this?”. No one teaches you how to handle grief. There isn’t a course in college that helps you handle losing your first baby. July 7, 2016 will forever be a day that fills my heart with sadness. It is the day I said goodbye to my first child.

What happens after you lose a child – one your heart had so badly desired and loved? Everything happens and then nothing happens at all. The week of June 30 was full of tests and questions and appointments and phone calls and text messages and cards and hugs. The week of July 7 was full of letting go and being strong and remembering and counseling and crying and more phone calls and more text messages. The week of July 14 was full of happiness and guilt and anger and excitement/fear of the future and anxiety and more crying and more counseling.

But this week, the week of July 21, has been filled with anger at everyone for thinking I’m okay. But it’s no one’s fault. I’m the one smiling, carrying on, planning a wedding and laughing with friends and family. I’m the one trying to push away the pain that happens after you lose a baby you love. It’s the rawness of a midnight fit of bawling that no one sees. It’s the slamming of doors, yelling at the love of my life who is just trying to tell me everything is okay and throwing anger at my family members (especially my sister and mom who have taken care of me every step of the way).

So, what happens after you lose a child? Everything – you scream, cry, cuss, hate, love, and laugh. You avoid aisles full of baby clothes, scroll quickly past pictures of babies and belly bumps on social media, and go out of the way to make sure you don’t stand too close to a pregnant woman or a newborn child. You go out with friends, have drinks, plan a wedding and go on vacations. You imagine what would have been on December 16 (our peanut’s due date) had you had a healthy child. You start thinking about the next pregnancy and how badly you want to have a normal baby that is here on Earth with you. You wonder if you’ll ever trust your body again. You think about how far along you would be and what the baby would have felt like moving around. Nothing – The world keeps moving. Everyone carries on. There is no life growing inside of you. There is nothing to plan for on December 16. There is nothing to show for the precious life you lost besides ultrasound images, a heartbeat teddy bear, cremations and the hand/foot prints given to you. There is no baby laughter, dirty diapers or tiny feet.

But, I keep moving. I keep growing. I keep loving and laughing and hoping and praying. God has a plan. My parents are paying for the most beautiful wedding, my fiancé is encouraging me to have patience every step of the way and I have a wonderful support system that has continued to show me grace and love. What happens after the loss of a child may be messy and hard, but it is humbling. So, thank you to each of you that have held my hand throughout this grieving process. It is nowhere close to being over, but it is easier each and every day.

“We were going to have a baby, but we had an Angel instead.”