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Triggers and Scars

Changing My Mind about Trauma

Soon after learning our son Henry no longer had a heartbeat within me, my husband and I sat staring at my phone with my doctor on speaker as she explained the next steps. When you experience still-birth you are confronted with multiple decisions. Our fist decision would be how to deliver our son.

I had longed for the day I would deliver Hank. I read blog after blog about the things to pack, the medications to request, delayed cord cutting, All. The. Things. Now we were plunged into unknown territory. How do you deliver a baby knowing he will never take a breath?

I knew two things. First, that I did not want to go home, and second that I wanted my son in my arms and out of my womb as soon as possible. I asked my doctor about the possibility of a cesarean. She explained that her patients who had elected to do a c-section had later felt that the scar was very triggering. I thought about this for a moment and decided something that has really impacted me in my grief. I decided that I could change my mind and see the scar as something to remember our sweet Henry by.

Almost like a tattoo.

In the days and weeks to come I soon learned that the caution of a triggering scar was totally pointless. Everything was triggering. Walking in our backyard brought visions of cradling our boy and showing him all the different flowers I planted while pregnant. His nursery, even with the door closed and crib hidden, brought a dull ache of deep unmet longing. I would find myself gasping for air when the grief hit me out of nowhere.

Forget the scar, my empty tummy was enough to trigger memories of loss.

One day I was washing dishes and I gingerly pressed my sensitive stomach against the tile. I was suddenly reminded of how Hank would kick nearly every time I leaned into the kitchen counter. Suddenly the pang of grief twisted inside me and my throat ached. Then I remembered what I said to my doctor: the scar gives me something to remember him by.

Not all scars are physical.

In that moment I decided that I was going to change my mind. I would choose to see these events as reminders, not triggers. What could be more delightful than the memory of my son? We gave him life and his life brought us joy. Why would I see the memory of that as something to stifle?

These reminders are incredibly painful, but that does not mean they are bad. They remind me that I lost something good. I am choosing to remember the good.

We experienced the life of our son Hank for seven precious months. He kicked and rolled and even smiled for an ultrasound. He continues to bring us so much joy and to teach us what it means to love with a parent’s heart. He made me a mom and Drew a dad. I am so grateful for his life.

I am changing my mind.

My scars are not triggers.

They are wonderful reminders.

Maybe you are also experiencing a loss. Maybe you are seeing reminders of your loved one everywhere. The grief it brings you is so painful. Please hear my heart. That pain is a reminder of something that is so, so good. So when that pain comes and it hurts so deep, remember the good.

Remember the joy, remember the laughter and the smiles. Remember the way they made you feel.

If it helps you, write down your memories or say them out loud.

Our loved ones never really leave us. They live in our hearts and the memories we share.

If you ever want to share memories of your sweet baby, please reach out.

In love and joy,


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