A letter to my stillborn daughter

The sadness of leaving the hospital empty-handed is indescribable: the letter you always wanted to write

It felt like a normal delivery. I didnt expect it to, but it did. The pain of labour was immediately buffered by that overwhelming and total love that sweeps in the moment a mother holds her baby. The power of that feeling is a one-off there is nothing to compare it to. But it was the joyful stupor, the sense of celebration, that took me by surprise. I didnt expect to feel joy.

Before I could finish wondering why I hadnt cried, a shadow slipped over me as I said you looked too perfect to have suffered death in my womb. And then reality, absent until that point, entered. Your lifes cry would never come. I knew this before I delivered you. But to feel this was entirely different.

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The midwives left us alone and we held you, your dad and I, sleeping with you for hours. Then we left the hospital empty-handed.

Its indescribable, the sadness of that feeling. I wont even try to write that one down. I just recall the rush of new parents, proudly exiting the hospital with their babies strapped into brand new Which? Best Buy car seats. How I wanted to be among that number. Back home, the walls of our empty house buried me alive each night as flowing milk soaked my skin, and my womb still moved with your phantom kicks. I woke in the dark to your cries. But you were never there.

Years have passed. I want to believe you are the angel on my shoulder, as the midwife described you. I want to believe that you are eternally at rest in the arms of your departed grandparents. I have to believe this. My road to peace has been paved with such visions.

I failed to give you a life that would flourish. I still dont know why, and I never will. It all went so terribly wrong. I am so sorry, my beloved, precious daughter. One of my teachers used to say, Thats just the way the cookie crumbles. It rings so hollow and yet thats the answer to all my unanswerable questions: thats just the way the cookie crumbles.

I made you a promise that the shadow of your death would never extinguish the light of your life. For the brief time that you existed within me, we lived, we thrived, two hearts as one. I still feel the power of that vitality. You matter a great deal. You were meant to be, if only for such a short time. And lifelong, I carry the torch of love in your name.

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