A Different Kind of Motherhood by Hannah Elcock
My son Billy is the most precious thing in the world to me. I love him in a way that I could never have imagined. The intense feelings of unconditional love for him, the pride at just how perfect his little face is, the desire to protect my darling firstborn. If you’re a mother reading this you will probably understand, you love your child in the same way. We’re mothers who will do absolutely anything for our children.
However, my journey into motherhood is probably different to yours. My firstborn son, my only child Billy, was stillborn at full term last year. My world came crashing down around me that day; shortly before delivering him I was told that he had passed away. Right in that moment when a doctor told me that my son’s heart had stopped beating, mine broke forever.
The last nine months were spent excitedly planning a future with our son. I couldn’t wait to meet the little guy that would be fairly quiet during the day and kick away all night long, keeping me awake alone with my thoughts, planning our future together, protectively cradling my bump.
The day I gave birth should have been the happiest day of my life, but instead it became the worst. I went into labour expecting to meet my beautiful baby later that day but when I arrived at the hospital my life changed forever. I was told my baby no longer had a heartbeat. Devastated, in every sense of the word, I somehow had to deliver my baby knowing that I wouldn’t get to take him home.
The months that follow the death of your baby are uncharted territory. So many ‘what ifs’, ‘could have been’ moments; feeling broken, empty and wondering how you will ever go on. Numb with your life turned upside down, faced with the cruel oxymoron of being a mother on maternity leave without her baby.
Now that the initial shock of my son’s death has begun to wear off, there is one feeling that never leaves me; the fact that I am a mother. My baby died but I am still his mommy. I sit here with empty arms and a broken heart, but I am still a mother to my son.
My days are so different to how I had planned. My son should be here, I shouldn’t be writing about life following baby loss. But I am, hoping to have my voice as a mother heard. Offering support and solidarity to other mothers who find themselves entering the worst type of motherhood; a mother to a baby that has died. I understand the loneliness, the anger, the sorrow but perhaps the strongest emotion of all, the love you have for your baby.
Stillborn babies aren’t a subject that mustn’t be talked about. Instead, we should do everything we can to protect their existence and keep their memory alive. We should raise awareness that although stillbirth is rare, the UK has one of the highest rates of stillbirth in the developed world with nine babies being stillborn every day. Nine families completely devastated, their worlds torn apart, every single day.
I have learned so much since becoming a mother and grieving for my son. I have found the strongest group of warrior women in the baby loss community. I have learned that women possess an inner strength to remain positive and hopeful for one day having a happy ending, to keep going in the face of adversity. Strength that is so inspiring and knows no bounds. We prop each other up, we lean on each other’s shoulder, we grieve together for our children. This is our journey of motherhood, we are in this together.
Billy will always be a part of our family, he will always be talked about and his memory will always be kept alive. No matter what path the rest of my life takes, whether I am blessed with more children, one thing that will never change is that Billy is my firstborn child. I am a mother. I am his mother.
Hannah is a blogger and continues to share her story on Lifelossandlipgloss.com and on Instagram.