There are certain days that are particularly difficult after a pregnancy loss that trigger heartbreak all over again. Mother’s Day, holidays, anniversaries, due dates… On those days, I find myself suffering in silence. My first pregnancy loss at 6 weeks led to completely shutting down, isolating myself from the world, telling virtually no one of my loss. This type of isolation can take quite a toll on you emotionally. So when I lost my precious boy at 20 weeks, this was not something I could survive alone. I needed help, support, love from others to carry me through this devastating time. There are days I still need help, support, love…
Scotland’s big sister Barbara and big brother Tommy.
For most people, the big 20-week ultrasound is the exciting appointment when you find out the gender of the baby and gain that extra sense of confidence that all will be okay. But with my first born, my 20-week ultrasound was anything but that. My husband Tommy and I were told our baby girl had a serious congenital heart defect and may not make it to birth. Some doctors suggested terminating the pregnancy to avoid the possibility of a stillborn loss. But as long as my baby girl was fighting and heart beating, that was exactly what we were going to do…fight. Barbara Anne was born at full term and needed immediate open-heart surgery. While that experience literally broke our hearts, today Barbara is a thriving 4yr old with the fight and will power of a Viking soldier. Seriously, you do not want to mess with her.
So when it came time for my precious boy’s 20-week ultrasound, I was anxious but also quietly confident all was well. After all, I saw him just a few weeks earlier sucking his thumb, heart beating strong…I was so sure nothing was wrong that I told Tommy to stay home with the kids while I went in for my appt. And in a matter of seconds my world crashed, my heart crushed. My sweet precious Scotland was still… with no reason given at all. The perinatologist explained judging by his size, I lost him 7-10 days earlier…but how could that be? Tommy and I felt him kick just last night??? What a cruel joke my body played as I continued to feel what I thought were “kicks” for days (even weeks) that followed his delivery.
You hear how common miscarriage is and having a stillborn is just as much a mystery. Everyone tells you “it’s not your fault” and maybe in your head you agree, but sometimes your heart seems to have a mind if its own… for myself, dealing with emotions of defeat, guilt, failure, embarrassment, reliving every little thing I could have done differently…
Obviously, I can only speak for my experience; each woman deals with their loss the best they know how and need support each step of the way. If you are reading this and have experienced a pregnancy loss, I want to say how truly sorry I am. Above all, I wish you peace and healing. And if I could hug each of you, I would. What can I say? I’m a hugger.
Scotland’s 12-week ultrasound.
Still, sharing Scotland’s story feels a bit like exposing a very raw womb, still healing, with the world. So why do it??? Because if this reaches just one mom or dad or family member or friend who has experienced this type of loss…if it helps them feel less alone, knowing they do not need to suffer in silence, then sharing this means everything. I am here sharing my story and I am here if you need to share yours.
Through this loss, I have done anything and everything to heal. Therapy? Check. Write in a journal? Check. Read books on loss/grief? Check. Go on medication? Check. Create a serenity garden? Check. Go off medication? Check. Essential oils? Check. Go to Church? Check. Join a loss support group? Check. Basically, if there’s a chance it will help, I’m out there trying. These avenues of support have indeed helped… but you know what? My heart still hurts sometimes. And I think it always will because I am Scotland’s mom and will forever love my son.
The most difficult part of losing Scotland is mourning the loss of a life my husband and I SO desperately wanted to give him. A life full of chaos, laughter, adventure but mostly a life filled with love.
This week is Scotland’s due date and I do not want to suffer in silence like I’ve done in the past. Selfishly knowing this day is going to be difficult for Tommy and I, I ask for support if you feel inclined to do so. Help make this day a day of love instead of sadness. A day of peace instead of pain.
Scotland’s due date is Friday, July 25th and in our way of honoring our precious boy, Tommy and I invite you to a “Love Walk for Scotland”.
Here’s how the “Love Walk” works:
1. On Friday, July 25th, walk, run, waddle, toddle or stroll. Anytime. Any place.
2. Send love and prayers to Scotland or simply send love into the world.
3. Take a photo of your “Love Walk” and share with Tommy or myself via text, email or social media at #LoveWalkforScotland
4. An album will be made of all your photos so that our family can look back on Scotland’s day of Love.
(For example, if you are a runner, you can dedicate your run to Scotland. Take a pic of your gym shoes. If you are working, think of Scotland on your way to grab lunch or coffee. If you have kids, capture their love for nature. If you are pregnant, I hope to see you rocking your gorgeous baby bump. Basically, whatever fits your life.)
The day I delivered Scotland was a difficult one. But you know what? The overwhelming emotions were not fear or pain…it was love and peace. Do not mistake me, the pain I carried in my heart that day was great…but love was greater. Just as I did with Barbara and Baby Tommy, I immediately fell in love with Scotland when I held my darling baby boy for the first and last time. The love my husband poured onto our precious son…the love he poured onto me…I’ve never felt more love for Tommy in my life than on that day. Every nurse, social worker, Chaplain and the absolutely incredible Dr. Perlow brought with them such love and compassion. My sister-in-law, Myra who was a NICU and now post-partum nurse selflessly acting as our advocate, holding my hand, sharing tears of love and loss with me. And all the love our family and friends sent through prayers, flowers, meals, messages and cards in the days, weeks and months that followed.
I believe God is love. And love is family. Love is friends. It’s hard for me to admit… but there was a time recently when I pretty much gave up on my faith and God. How could God let this happen to me? Why is God punishing me? Why? Why? WHY? I know now God never left me…actually, God was pouring love into my heart through the kindness and compassion of my husband, through hugs and kisses from my children, a message of love and encouragement from a sister, a friend, my family, friends of friends, friends of family & even in those I’ve never met before. I realize now God may not be able to determine my life’s losses and successes…. but wherever love exists, God is right there.
So love wins. And that is how the soul of Scotland Bansley Riles will be remembered in…Love.
A Love Walk for Scotland.
Thank you for allowing me to share.
Lucy Riles, Scotland’s Mom