Pregnancy & Infant Loss is my mountain. Let me start by saying that, the loss of my son, Bentley, was my mountain in life. Something I never saw coming. Something I never imagined that I'd overcome. The loss of Bentley changed my out look on life as a whole, but most importantly, it became my own internal mountain.
When your baby dies, you recognize that life as you know it will never be the same again. The world around you recognizes the same. How can you just simply accept your loss and keep moving forward? Are the parents that have experienced a loss carry some super power that allows you to carry on with life?
I can tell you, from personal experience, I have no super power. I am not a super mom. I am not some hero that has buried her baby but perfectly fine. I am a mom. I am a bereaved mom. One that has experienced the ultimate pain of burying her child. Let me tell you, I am not ungrateful for the words that many will use when discussing our journey as calling bereaved parents-- "amazing" , "
", and "super moms/dads".
This journey is hard. The mountain is steep. And, it is all up hill. I remember the moments that Bentley died. So many decisions. So many hard decisions. Will we hold him? Are our friends & family going to be okay after witnessing his birth & death? Do we bury him or use cremation? Should we have a viewing or a grave side service? How do we pick up our feet each day? Do we move on and forget or do we continually relieve the pain of losing our son? And, to those last questions, we learned those go hand in hand.
Being a bereaved parent is nothing short a miracle to be surviving. I don't say that lightly either. The death of Bentley shattered my life to its core. And, every day since I have had to rebuild every aspect of it. I am still a work in progress. My mountain knocked me down. It tore my heart right open. It taught me to love a boy so much that I would do anything in this world to keep his memory alive. My mountain has stolen the care-free, worry free life that I once had. It filled me with fear and anxiety. My mountain made me believe that I was not worth much. It made me look in the mirror and think "I am not super hero, but I am a mom whose body failed her." My baby died in my body. I remember looking at myself in the mirror thinking that no matter what I had or would accomplish in this life that nothing would be okay because at the end of it all, my baby is still dead.
I remember fighting through each pregnancy after Bentley thinking how difficult it was to be a positive, cheerful mom. I expected my baby to die. I did not know anymore how to enjoy being pregnant. My mountain caused this. As each baby was born, the reality hit home that these babies while they were born alive, maybe they wouldn't stay forever. You see, pregnancy and infant loss, changes you in that your mountain makes you believe that some time the goodness and happiness that life did bring will end. You live life wondering what next. You struggle to truly believe that happiness will exist fully again. You see, my mountain became so steep that it enabled me to even breathe most days. I share this with you because my mountain while it felt like I was the only one experiencing this devastating loss. I wasn't.
My mountain was experienced before. The death of baby was happening to 1 in 4 pregnant woman. Every minute a mother was giving birth through stillbirth, and every single second a mother was giving birth through miscarriage. In my own mountain, I wasn't alone. It has been almost 8 years, and we have been navigating this life after loss each and every day learning new aspects of grief. One thing that I learned though is that my mountain is something that I was given. I was given this huge hurdle in my life to show others that it can be moved.
When Bentley was born, I knew that no matter what that we wanted to help the next family. We knew that Bentley's life had purpose. We weren't sure how God was using this mountain in our life, but we clung to the promise that we would keep picking up our feet to walk forward. We promised that while it didn't make sense, that one day we would simply see Bentley again in heaven, and we would become a complete family.
It has taken almost 8 years to fully see our meaning in losing Bentley. Yes, in the last 8 years, we have worked to help families, but this year we took a huge leap of faith to begin a non profit. We became a charitable foundation this year because we knew that our mountain was moved, and we wanted to provide that hope to others. Hope Through Birth was created to not fix your pain. It was not created to provide you with short term services. It was created because we wanted to share our love with the community.
There are many organizations that assist families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, but in Washington County, we are serving families from Hope Through Birth, a faith based organization that wants to help you move your mountain. We want to walk along side you to show you that while maybe you don't believe in God, maybe you are angry at God. It's okay because God can still move mountains. It is because of my faith in Jesus that I am standing today. It is because I surrendered Bentley's life to be used by God for his purpose. It is because I knew that I couldn't climb this mountain alone. It is because of faith in Jesus that the legacy we've been building has allowed others to know that we've been here before and we have kept forward overcoming our mountain.
If you are thinking that you can't move this mountain. If you are thinking that the weight of the loss of your child has you barely able to breathe, please, reach out. We are here. We want to provide you with support and encouragement to know that your mountain can be climbed and moved, and we promise to walk along side you. Our team is equipped with bereavement training and compassion to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing pregnancy and infant loss.
Stephanie Nalley, SBD
Founder of Hope Through Birth