Six Word Story: Childless After Five Months of Pregnancy

September 9, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"em ● pa ● thy noun: The ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions."

One of my latest reads is Signs of Life: A Memoir by Natalie Taylor. I was captivated by her book when I read the back blurb about how she lost her husband when she was 24-years-old and five months pregnant. Five months pregnant! 

I was 23-years-old and five months pregnant when we lost Elijah to stillbirth. 

Natalie lost her husband due to an unexpected freak accident on June 17, 2007. We lost Elijah due to an unexpected rupture and he died on the day he was born: June 16, 2016

Reading her book has led me to many parallels with Natalie's story about grief and loss and I can easily relate to her thoughts and emotions. I am also beginning to see and feel the magic; I was meant to find and read her book. 

However, this blog post isn't about Natalie, her life, or the book (I will write about it in another blog post), it is about something that I found in her book that I have seen and heard before. She mentioned Ernest Hemingway and his six word story, "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn." 

I don't remember exactly when or where, but have seen Hemingway's six word story on some Facebook article after Elijah died. I've never read the article or about the story (until today), but remember reading those same words and felt them. I understood what it is like to have unused, never worn, newly purchased baby clothes that were patiently waiting and longing for a baby to fill in its empty spaces.

I understood the pain of having these baby things packed in a box, stuffed in the closet, and no baby to stain them with food marks and baby smell. 

Although there are some debates on whether Hemingway deserves full credit for his creation/short story, I began thinking about how I could create my own six word story. For days, I have been playing with words in my head and counting them with my fingers, trying to see if I could somehow gather everything I wanted to say about being a stillbirth/loss mom/grieving infertile in six powerful words. 

I ended up with a long list of six word stories and actually had a lot of fun. 

My next goal is to share these stories with the world, and hopefully, create a stir of emotions, maybe even an awakening or realization, and make an impact, like Ernest Hemingway. 

Some of the stories I came up with are statements, questions, or hopes and dreams. But they are, nonetheless, stories that are powerful. Some, I have extended the story with more details, others I have kept them in their simple words. Some stories only need six words; the rest is felt in the heart. 


 1. Childless After Five Months of Pregnancy 

We lost Elijah when I was five months pregnant. I was at the halfway mark into my pregnancy at twenty weeks, those weeks that became five long, but brief moments of months. There isn't much that I could say or explain. 

Instead, there is a lot that I could feel in saying and writing these words. It sounds almost like a headline on the news, as if I was in a car accident and lost my baby due to a traumatic blow from the airbag to my belly. I could hear a woman, the news anchor, broadcasting the details about the accident and which hospital we are in. But that isn't how our story goes. It could have been, but it's not. 

Childless after five months of pregnancy - these words - I know are powerful.

(Related Read: Elijah's Story)

2. Mother Gave Birth and Baby Died

3. Grieving Mother with Tears of Agony

4. Milk With No Baby to Feed

The day after I gave birth, my milk came in. The problem: there was no baby. My body had not only failed at protecting my baby, it also failed to take notice that my baby died and didn't need milk. 

Surprisingly, I wasn't as emotional about milk production after stillbirth - that is not until the milk had dried up. I wasn't excited about how painful the engorgement had become. I wasn't excited about icing my breasts or wearing tight bras to wrap them up. I was excited to witness my body doing something that was natural (I worried about not being able to supply). 

However, the fact that my baby had died made this situation so unnatural that I couldn't understand why it happened. I looked forward to breastfeeding... I just didn't think that I would end up making milk for a baby that didn't need it. It took about two weeks - a long two weeks - until the milk had fully dried up. I didn't want them to dry up... My now deflated, milk-less breasts never did return back to the way they were before and it's hard remembering that they were waiting to feed a baby. I was waiting to feed my baby. 

5. Be Grateful: Motherhood Is A Gift

I would really like to push this out there and make it known to every woman who (easily) got pregnant and complain about everything pregnancy related. Many of us out here would love to be in your place. Many of us would love your nausea, morning sickness, back pain, bed rest, weight gain, and stretch marks. Many of us would rather be painfully pregnant, instead of painfully wishing that we were. 

Be grateful that you had the opportunity to carry, birth, and take your baby home. Because many of us struggle and/or will and may never get to. 

I read a blog one day about a woman who lost a baby and later got pregnant with her rainbow, which turns out to be a boy. She wrote about how she wanted and hoped for a girl because the baby she lost was a girl. She was disappointed. As someone who lost a baby and have hoped for another boy, I completely understand. Yet, having a boy or girl doesn't matter more than having a healthy baby, moreover, having the gift of taking your baby home. It is so easy to forget about our blessings...

(Related Read: Linea Nigra)

6. It's Lonely on Pregnant Women Island

7. Triggers: Sh*t That Makes You Cry

I actually have a long mental list, but will only name my top 10 to save time.

  • Pregnant women (with noticeable bellies)
  • Newborns
  • Baby on Board stickers
  • Crying babies
  • The baby aisle
  • Pregnant women (with noticeable bellies) and (crying) newborns on T.V. 
  • Daddies pushing babies in strollers
  • Baby shower invitations and being invited or asked to attend 
  • Pregnant women (with noticeable bellies) who have one or two other very, very young children with a husband who pushes one of their children (which is still a baby) in a stroller
  • Random pregnant women that walk past me when I am on my period, when I am in a public place, when I am crossing the street, when I am heavily grieving, or when all I want to do is be stress-free because stress inhibits conception, which everyone keeps telling me not to stress about

8. Why Them and Not Me, God?

Sometimes, I get angry with God and feel so confused. Why do some people have kids, but don't love them? Why did my mother one day tell us, "If I didn't have you guys, I would be..." Why do I feel like I would be a better mother than my own mother? Why can some have babies and others can't? Why do some do drugs, smoke, drink alcohol and can have babies, but why do others who try their hardest to be healthy, can't have babies?

I remember strolling at a Walmart with my husband one day. We were walking by a woman with her two-and-a-half kids (one of them being pushed in a stroller, the other walking beside her, the youngest one is a bulge in her stomach). She looked miserable and the child walking beside her was dragging his feet. I flinched at the sight of her belly and tried to walk faster, farther away from her as I possibly could. 

When we got to the line to purchase our things, she and her two-and-a-half kids were in the line ahead of us. She was angry with the boy (the one walking beside her), cursed at him, and told him that he wasn't going to get anything. He yelled back at her in that same tone of voice. I asked God, why her? Maybe it's karma. Good karma, bad karma. I don't know. 

9. Baby Shower: Never Got The Chance

When I was around 8-9 weeks along, I told my sister-in-law that I was pregnant. Weeks after that, she asked me if we were going to throw a baby shower. I told her that I had wanted to, but her brother said no. 

My husband said no. He thought it was "asking for too much." He didn't want to ask anyone to help and thought that a baby shower would be costly anyway. My sister-in-law said that we should, at least for our first baby. We were going to be first time parents and needed all the help we could get. 

I didn't want to throw the baby shower for "help." I wanted to everyone to celebrate and welcome our baby. My husband thought it was better to do something after the baby was born, which made sense. But I had hoped that he would change his mind later down the road. I even kept in mind that if he had changed his mind, we would do the baby shower when I was around 8 months pregnant. It would have been on a September weekend.

(Related Read: Day 7: Baby Shower Theme)

I never made it past 5 months pregnant and we didn't have to decide on a baby shower after all. I don't think I will ever want to attend a baby shower or attempt to throw one ever again, or at least for a very, very long time.

10. 'Don't Stress' Is Not Good Advice

I remember posting about TTC after loss on some Facebook group for stillbirth parents. Someone commented saying not to stress about it. I hate it when people say this. I also hate it when I see this same comment on other people's posts. 

I completely understand why stress causes difficulty in conceiving. I learned all about stress in health class and understand why it's so important that we find time to de-stress and relax. I know the difference between "good" and "bad" stress and how "bad" stress could make the body inhabitable for conception. My health instructor even mentioned how her niece had a hard time conceiving and told her not to stress about it. And when she stopped stressing about it, she magically conceived and went on to have a healthy baby. I get it! Stress is bad for the uterus. Stress is bad for women trying to conceive. Stress is bad for baby making. 

But telling people (like me) not to stress about making a baby creates more stress! It negates the fact that I'm struggling and in need of encouragement. Rather than telling me to avoid stress, tell me how to avoid stress. If you tell me how, then I can stress less about how annoyed I am that it is extremely easy for you to tell me not to stress and not say something that is actually helpful. Throw me a book, give me a list, show me a yoga pose! Give me advice with instructions! 

(Actually, I do have a good book that I found at a used bookstore. It’s called Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice D. Domar, Ph.D) 

I have also had someone tell me in another six word story, "Don't (do not) make it a job." It really isn't helpful to have someone assume that I am turning or will turn my sex life with my husband into a job. I don't have sex with you, I have sex with my husband. And I will not and will never apply for a job to listen to people who tell me not to make it a job. Because I don't.

I just hope that sex with my husband makes a baby and is highly emotional when it doesn't. I'm only human with a burning desire to be a mother to a living child.

11. Think Before You Say Something, Please
12. Just Two Pink Lines, Nothing Else

If you asked me what I wanted for my birthday or on Christmas, it would be two pink lines after I had just peed on a stick. If you asked me how many sets of two pink lines I have seen over the past four years, it would only be one. 

Two pink lines control my life, hell, the control line controls my life. Every time the screen shows only the control line, I feel dead inside. I feel like a failure. And then I cry (I really am sick of crying about this) because after ten long, hopeful minutes of prayers, the second line refuses to budge. Nothing has changed, everything I have done didn't change the line. 

Two pink lines sounds so simple. All I have to do is draw two pink lines. But every time I try to draw a second line, it's like my pink marker ran out of ink. I don't understand why drawing two pink lines is so freaking hard. I decided that trying to draw two pink lines is becoming expensive. It costs a lot of money to throw them away, but also much of my heart because two pink lines control my life. Who knew that lines could literally break your heart to pieces.

All I want are two pink lines to magically appear, like on that very day I never thought they would.

13. Aunt Flo, Please Don't Show Up

Every cycle, I hope that she doesn't visit me and yet she does. And when she does, it's usually right after a negative pregnancy test or day after. If I didn't take a test, then she shows up when I least expect her to. 

Every cycle, she makes me bleed and I count all of the times she's been ruthless to me. Sometimes, she doesn't show up, but then tricks me and shows up two or three months later - unannounced, shredding up all of my hopes and dreams. 

She makes me feel that there is something wrong with me.

(Related Read: Sixteen Losses)

14. If I Am Pregnant, Please Stay 

This is probably foolish and insane, but most months in the midst of my cycle, I use the "due date calculator." Most months, I hope that I am pregnant, even though I know that there is a higher chance that I am not. But that hope gets to me. That hope crosses my fingers that I have conceived. And if I did, then knowing an estimate of when my baby will be born somehow gives me more hope. I guess I'm a sucker for false hope.

I tell "the baby" to stay. Please stay. If you are there, please stay. I even hold onto my belly as if there is a baby in there. 

Most of the time, I never see the "gestation" farther than 5 or 6 weeks because I'm bleeding and crying about how I will never gaze upon two pink lines or experience the baby's birth. And then I lose hope and question my faith in God, and most of the time, in myself. 

15. Will I Ever Have Another Baby?

I ask this question almost every day, along with "where is my baby?"

16. Why Did You Have to Die?

Some days, I think I know why and I'm okay with that. Other days, I don't understand and don't know what to believe in anymore. 

17. You Died and I'm Still Here

Losing a baby feels so backward; it doesn't make sense. Giving birth to a baby that died doesn't make any sense, either. I shouldn't be a grieving mother. I shouldn't have to decide whether or not my baby is going to be buried or cremated. I shouldn't have to see my dead baby, lying lifeless with eyes that were never opened. 

I have never strongly experienced thoughts of suicide, until losing Elijah. And it scares me. It scares me that I will have to live the rest of my life without him, wondering about a billion things of how life would have been like if he was here. It's overwhelming. 

18. They May Forget You, I Won't

Even if it's just my husband, my sister, and I that sings "Happy Birthday" to Elijah or remembers his birthday, I realized that that is enough. I'm happy that I will never forget about Elijah and that I was lucky enough to love him.

19. You Are Always My Little Miracle

I remember making a prayer weeks before I found out that I was pregnant. Even after death, I still believe that he was a miracle. My little miracle. 

20. Not Bitter, Just A Grieving Mother

With love,

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