I hope that by meeting these courageous mothers that have navigated their way through the toughest of circumstances, they can be uplifting and encouraging to those of you who may be experiencing the same. If you ever want to submit your story for consideration, you can always email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with a little snippet of what you would love to talk about!
“Hello readers, I’m Megan Rollag, born in South Dakota still living in God’s country. Lover of lattes, cozy robes, and all things Target and Tj Maxx. Wife to my wonderful husband Matt and mama to an angel, Lyla Jane. Living each day to honor our daughter. Expecting her brother in the spring.”
March 12th, 2017 I lost my mucus plug and began having some mild cramping/ contractions but nothing that could be tracked. That night, I lay in bed trying to rest but mainly tossing,turning and falling in and out of sleep. when I woke up, My contractions were easily distinguishable. We called the doctor and headed to the hospital.As new soon to be parents we were driving with such anticipation and excitement.
Upon arrival to the hospital we were brought to triage. Within seconds I knew something was wrong. Her heartbeat was like music to my ears at every other appointment “You can’t find her heartbeat, You can’t find her heartbeat” I repeated continually.. Never did it enter our minds that her heart would stop or that something could go wrong. After what feels like a century, the doctor came in to confirm our sweet baby had died.
“Does your baby have a name?” they asked. Yes, I cried, “Lyla Jane!” As we were admitted to our room, the nurse wrote on our hospital board -Lyla Jane our angel in heaven-. I was numb. We immediately call my parents and sister and ask if they can come be with us during this time. “What do we do next?” we ask. This being my first pregnancy, I was unsure how everything would go and also terrified of the pain and discomforts of labor. My contractions are now getting stronger and closer together. Each minute that passes they become a little bit more unbearable as I have to wrap my head around the fact that I must proceed with labor knowing I won’t be taking our baby home.
My family arrives and surrounds us with love to help me get through each hour that passes.They bring my pillow and blanket from home which provides me some comfort. My husband bravely answers all the difficult questions from the medical staff and funeral directors. Would you prefer cremation or a burial? Have you thought about an autopsy? Where would you like her funeral service? Questions that no parent ever wants to answer.
I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. Tears filling my eyes and my heart tore in pieces. I don’t know how I will survive this day or the days going forward. Finally, I am given an epidural, which lessens the physical pain enough for me to try and find enough strength to continue. Hours pass and it’s finally time to push. I’m terrified. My sister and mom grab hold of my knees and I lock eyes and my hands with my husband Matt. I began to push with each contraction and she is born. When I locked eyes on her my heart sank with my new found reality that she was no longer with us. She was 5lbs and 17 inches or pure perfection, she had such long fingers, toes, and big beautiful lips like her father. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It wasn’t fair.
We were surrounded by close family and friends and spent that night and the next day in the hospital holding on to each moment we had with Lyla. The nursing staff tried to instruct us to sleep, but we couldn’t. I was so tired. I knew this was the only night I would have with her. Leaving her was gut wrenching. I so badly wanted to be in the comfort of my own home but also felt so much guilt and anxiety about leaving her. Our nurse Maria asked if it would be okay if she held Lyla as we are wheeled out of the hospital. I will never forget her kind gesture, this was the first of many that we would receive in the coming days.
Leaving the labor and delivery floor with all the new parents and their crying babies was the worst kind of torture I’ve ever experienced. At that moment, it suddenly hit me that I must now figure out how to navigate life after loss. Our first obstacle would be arriving home to an empty nursery and a house filled of things we had for our sweet girl.
My husband and I arrived home and I have never been so anxious to walk inside our front door. We head to our couch, sat side by side and put on a movie. We finally rest. I’m frequently woken by thoughts of labor and constant tears that soon became my new normal for some time.
The hardest part about coming home was that my body was still recovering from labor and would continue to for the next six weeks. Every trip to the restroom was a constant reminder that Lyla wasn’t here. I stare at my now empty belly in despair. What did I do wrong? What if I came to the hospital sooner? Did I forget my prenatal vitamin? The guilt after loss has been the hardest to overcome and is something I still struggle with.
Over the next couple weeks, our doorbell never stopped ringing. We are delivered beautiful bouquets, food, and cards filled with condolences. These sweet gestures gave us something to look forward to. I’ve saved every note and card that was given to us during this time. They are so special to me, each new card filled me with a little bit of hope. So many people sending their love. We found comfort in that.
32 days. It was 32 days before I made it through a day without breaking down. I’m grateful to have such an amazing sister, mother, and friends who would just sit there and let me cry. Still with all the support surrounding us, I felt alone and misunderstood. Will I every feel normal again? I used to be an outgoing person but after losing Lyla I was petrified to go anywhere alone. I felt like everywhere I went I saw a mother and her newborn baby or was surrounded by pregnant woman. I never knew what people would say to me let alone how I would react. Every trip to the store felt like a small victory in the right directions. Grief truly is a humbling experience and can bring even the strongest person to their knees. It’s consuming and can literally take your breath away the moment a wave of grief hits. One minute you are feeling normal then the next you are stopped in your tracks completely broken.
Matt and I must learn to live life as beavered parents. We get to choose how we are going to let this grief shape us.We can decide to be sad, isolated, and miserable. Or we can choose to learn and grow…we choose the latter. In this short time, I’ve learned how uncomfortable loss makes people which is unfortunate because it’s something everyone will eventually experience. Many people are scared to bring up Lyla to us in fear it will make us sad. The thing is we are thinking of her constantly, you aren’t reminding us that she died you’re showing me that you care and remember her. That is the best gift you can give a bereaved parent.
In truth, it has been difficult to bite my tongue when people make hurtful statements which I know come from a place of love. Things such as “at least you know you can get pregnant” or “You can have more children.” These are not helpful, they are hurtful. If you don’t know what to say, a simple “I’m sorry” and a hug is all that is needed. Most people will say their condolences and never mention it again but I would suggest to keep checking in, keep saying their loved ones name. Grief has no timeline and for most their loss will be felt forever.
Overtime, I came to the realization that Lyla wouldn’t want us sitting around and crying all day. She would want us to live a life full of love and happiness. Each morning as time passed, I would try and pull myself out of bed with that in mind. I would immediately write down one thing I was grateful for and put it in a gratitude jar.These notes were left for me to read when I was feeling sad to help me pick up my mood. With tearful eyes I began reading to myself daily affirmations to make me believe I was a good mother and that I will find joy again. Journaling all the thoughts and emotions running through my head was the most therapeutic for my soul. It allowed me to be honest about my feelings when I couldn’t verbalize them. And finally, I began to see a therapist who prepared me to enter the real world again in ways I could never imagine. These small steps slowly began to build up my self worth and confidence.
We’ve built a beautiful free little library in her honor for the kids/families in our neighborhood. It has been a true gift to be able to see people read our story and enjoy books from her library. It truly is a legacy of Love. I’ve found so much healing from sharing more with others. Lyla taught us so much about gratitude, empathy, and kindness and I will be forever grateful that we were chosen to be her parents. No matter how difficult this journey has been.
Although, Lyla’s story isn’t what we imagined it would be, it hasn’t ended. Her story will continue to live on. We are now currently pregnant with our rainbow baby! Lyla’s brother or sister fills my heart with so much joy. Being pregnant again makes us hopeful and happy. I know this pregnancy will be a lot different than my first. I know all too well what the risks are and what can happen but we will courageously walk this path in the hope of raising a baby here on earth. Lyla Jane was made with an abundance of love and was eagerly wished for. We are better people because of her.
To anyone who has experienced a loss, I see you. You are not alone. Never give up hope, fight to find your happiness again, it is possible. Thank you to my amazing husband for his strength, friendship, and guidance. To all our friends and family who walked this path with us, we are unbelievable grateful. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.
All my love,
There is beauty in sadness.