Interview with Mandy Hansen
Age of babies who died: 11.5, 6.5, and 8 weeks gestation
Thank you, Mandy, for shining a light on the reality of what it’s really like to battle infertility on a daily basis. Both your strength and struggle is palpable. You are one of bravest moms I know and a bright light in the infertility and baby loss community. One of the many things that is so beautiful about you is that you are as real as it gets. In speaking your truth you give countless countless other women permission and courage to speak theirs. There truly is no greater gift you could offer the world.
“You never ‘move on’, you never ‘get over’ it.” ~ Mandy
1). If you could describe your life now in one word, what word would you choose and why? Turbulent. There are days that go smooth and well and there are days I’m certain everything is going to end in a fiery ball of wreckage. I recently started blogging at HMHB, a blog catering to pregnant mothers, sharing my story for those who may be in the same situation that I was in.
2). What’s one way you wish your family/friends would have supported you in the first couple years post-loss? My first 2 losses: to let me grieve, let me grieve in my own way and time. Let me talk about them and not have to hide the fact of what I was going through. My third was handled ok.
3). What is one question you long for people to ask you? What are their names?
4). What’s one question you wish they wouldn’t ask? Why can’t you move on/get over it.
5). How have you integrated the loss of your child into your everyday life? The only pictures I have hanging in my house are memorials to them, and a picture of my wedding day.
6). Describe a day in your life now. What is it like to be *you* today? What does it feel like, look like, and taste like? I wake up, check Facebook for my support group notifications, reply/comment if needed. Check baby center for my support groups there and reply/comment if needed. Check my etsy store where I make memorial jewelry. Feed Bella, take outside, feed the cats. Go to work. Manage the daily headache I have somewhere during this time. Take my lunch break and check the previously mentioned groups while I stuff my face. Work. 15 minute break. Check all the groups again as I stuff my face again. Go home, visit with the husband and animals. Check and hang out on the groups. Go to bed. Repeat.
Among all that it’s a constant battle to keep any kind of hope alive. A battle to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The women in my support groups often tell me I inspire them, that I’m so strong and when they want to give up they think of me and keep going. They say these things to me and what I never say is that they have no idea the fight I have to keep going, it’s not that I’m strong, there’s just no other option but to keep going forward.
7). How would you define the word “hope”? Hope? How do you define something you rarely have? Hope. The thing that keeps letting me down over and over again. Hope is what hurts most of all.
8). What does the word “healing” mean to you? The ability to keep living. It’s not moving on or the end of a journey. When you can look towards another day it’s a path to healing.
9). If you could offer another bereaved parent some hope to hold onto, what you would tell them? I can’t offer hope but I can offer experience. It doesn’t always hurt so much. It doesn’t get better but it gets different and the pain eventually dulls. The pain won’t always be the first thing you feel when you wake up nor the last thing you feel when you fall asleep. I promise.
10). What gifts have you found in the midst of your suffering? I don’t think I really have.
11). How has your loss changed you? How hasn’t it? It can all be summed up by this Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland: “I can’t go back to yesterday, I was a different person then.”
12). What do you find to be the most horrific, gut-wrenching, torturous part about living life after loss of your child? The fact that I may never have any closure. I may never have a living baby. My heart, my life, my being will never be whole or complete. I may never hear the words “I love you, Mama.”
13). What have you found to be the most beautiful part of life after loss? I haven’t. I don’t see beauty in life, sure, things are pretty, things make me stop and look a second time but it all ends and fades.
14). What is your biggest trigger, and what helps you cope when it hits? Hearing a baby/child giggle, seeing my friends take selfies with their children. I rarely watch my friends videos of their children, I avoid when I can.
15). What is one thing about your grief, your circumstance, or your life now that you do not feel free to say out loud? And what usually keeps keeps you from sharing it? This question could be its own interview…
16). What do you want the world to really really know about pregnancy loss or life after loss? You never “move on”, you never “get over” it. People so often do not associate a pregnancy loss of any gestation as a loss, but as something that happened to you. My CHILD died. If your child died that you birthed people would not tell them to get over or move one from it. I may never have held, smelled, or touched my children but they are just as much my child as your child is yours.
17). What kind of grief support have you found to be most helpful? Online. Without the internet I would probably be in a padded white cell right now.
18). What do you want the world to know about your precious child? They lived. They made me a mother.
19). What is the hardest part about your everyday life now? Controlling the unreasonable anger, the unreasonable jealousy.
20). How do you keep your child’s memory alive? I talk about them, I wear jewelry to remember them.
21). If you could say anything without worrying about the way people would react, what would it be? Take all your advice and shove it. None of it works and most of it is so idiotic that it pisses me off that you got pregnant and spew this stupid advice spurring all these old wives tales.
22). What helps you most when you feel waves of anger, despair, or grief? My dog, my cat.
23). What has given/gives you the strength to keep on keeping on? Nothing specifically but what other option is there? The days keep coming whether you are ready or not.
24). What is one thing that would help make your burden lighter today? Winning the lottery so that I can have multiple tries at assisted reproductive care. I can wish, right?
25). If you could tell your child anything, what would it be? That they were so wanted. And that they are still so loved.
26). If your child could tell you anything, what do you think he/she would say to you? I just can’t even deal with this question. It’s totally incomprehensible to me.
“It can all be summed up by this Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland: “I can’t go back to yesterday, I was a different person then.” ~ Mandy