If you asked me how I met Kristine, I’d have to say I don’t know. I think it was on Twitter. Or maybe Facebook. No, I think it was Twitter. When did our paths cross? Not sure about that one either. It’s been a couple of months at least. We seemed to hit it off from the start and I’ve been wanting to share her story here for quite some time. Kristine is a Mom. She’s Cora’s mom. Cora isn’t here with us anymore but that doesn’t make Kristine any less of a mother. She’s championed on, fighting for Congenital Heart Disease awareness, opening up about her very own experience with infant loss. Cora left us at just five days old but those five days have made a huge difference in Kristine’s life.
I’ve asked Kristine to share her story here because it’s important to remember that Mothers with Angel Babies are still mommies too. They hurt just like we do. And while those of us who have never lost a baby will never truly understand their pain and grief, it’s just as important for us to hold them close as well, to check in on them to see how they are holding up. Mothers with Angel Babies don’t deserve to be hidden in a corner simply because we’re not sure of what to say. You can help by simply asking “How ARE you today?” and then listening without judging. It’s okay to admit you don’t know what to say. Chances are they don’t know either. But we can learn together.
Thank you, Kristine, for sharing so openly here. Your words and experience are truly invaluable. You’ve already helped so many and I know there are many more waiting to be touched by Cora’s Story. You’re both making a huge difference in this world!
And now, in Kristine’s own words, her postpartum voice, is her story and advice to those in the PPD Community:
The no-baby blues? Post-partum depression in the baby loss community
For over ten months, my body was taxed and tolled and hormones and body chemistry changed. Then I labored, which sometimes is traumatic, sometimes goes beautifully, but always means work. I gave birth to a beautiful daughter after laboring for a day. For days, I wasn’t allowed more than an hour of two or sleep, and finding time to was a feat.
After going through all that and then adjusting to life with a new baby, depression seems so a given.
But, what if there is no baby? What if there are no late night feedings? What if your body goes through all the pain and change of child birth and then the baby dies?
I still gave birth, so I am post-partum, and my daughter, Cora, died in my arms early one morning while breastfeeding, so I certainly feel depressed.
When diagnosing me, professionals and laypeople usually call my depression Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, certainly applicable because I watched my daughter die, or simply manic depression.
I’ve started a quest to learn more about post-partum depression, because after all, my days aren’t that much different than mothers with babies here.
I’m kept up late with insomnia. My eating habits are terrible. I get pressure from family and friends to act a certain way. I feel alone and isolated because grieving mothers sometimes get treated like they suffer from a contagious disease. All conditions new mothers find themselves in for the first few months after giving birth.
Only, I have trouble relating. Other grieving mothers get it, most of the time, but I find it difficult to not feel badly for them. And, them for me, too. So we’re a tightknit group, but with so much pressure on ourselves, we’re not always the best support for the times we’re hidden away taking care of ourselves.
Mothers suffering from post-partum depression seem apprehensive to say anything. They fear us being offended that they’d dare relate their depression to ours. And, no doubt, some grieving moms would be offended, but in the end, we’re all in the same bout.
Grieving mothers need the support of the PPD community. PPD might only be one of the many daily mental struggles for a grieving mom, but I think it’s the forgotten factor. My doctors haven’t really wanted to label what I’m going through at this point, but, sometimes I wish they would, just to acknowledge that I might suffer from more than one disorder at a time.
I don’t want to speak for every grieving mother, but I’m glad I’ve found an online PPD community and find value in joining more than one community, communities for grieving mothers, communities for new moms, communities for children that suffer the same condition that killed my daughter, congenital heart disease because in doing so I can relate to everything I face a bit better.
I hope more grieving mothers realize they too have a multi-headed dragon to slay and begin reaching out. Depression after giving birth, whether you have a baby on Earth or somewhere else, only gets better with help.
Kristine Brite McCormick writes about her daughter Cora (almost) daily on her blog, Cora’s Story , where she often opens up about grief and depression.