Miscarriage: How I shot a wedding 5 days after we lost our baby | Andrea Rodway Photography
Time Doesn't Stand Still
There are days, months, and even years when you're younger and you wish the time would fly by. This is definitely not the case when you're moving at what seems the speed of light when you're pregnant. I don't know about any other mother ... but when I was pregnant, it seemed like the months were flying by. When I felt like I had months to plan and prep, the next moment I realized I was almost five months into having our baby boy with me.
I knew keeping up my photography business and working my regular full time job was going to continue to be a challenge, especially if we were going to have children. You don't really know how your body is going to react when you are finally pregnant. I was absolutely exhausted those first few months, and luckily I never got sick ... not even one day. I craved tons of veggies, steak, and chicken and I was extremely proud of how well we were eating. Then that week came. That week of 20 weeks pregnant. That week where it all came crashing down. That week that I never felt him move, not even once. That week that I would never get back. That week where we went in with a baby and saw parents come out with a baby, but those parents weren't us. That week where I honestly didn't know if I would ever be okay. And that week where I didn't want to see or talk to anyone, especially anyone who was having a baby.
You Are Never Prepared For Loss
There are days where I don't think about our loss, and then there are days when I do. I never know when that will hit me. For instance, the other day I saw the most adorable little boy and I just smiled and told his mother how beautiful he was and kept walking. I felt great, amazing even. And then there are other days when you see something on Facebook or in the grocery store and you want to throw your phone or you leave your cart full of items and walk out of the store. This is my reality. There are no experiences in life that can prepare you for any sort of loss. I remember when my grandparents passed, I was quite young for the first two and then the last two I was a bit older. But it still hurts no matter how old you are. When you're pregnant you have milestones. Once you hit them, you are so proud of yourself that you and this little blessing are still in it to win it.
Then that dreaded day comes. The one that you secretly knew was coming, and there was nothing you could do to stop it. You couldn't rewind, you couldn't force time to stop, you are just stuck with the words that the doctor tells you, and the extreme pain and emptiness from the aftermath of surgery. They literally wake you up and make sure you can go to the bathroom and then say see ya later, here's some pain meds. There's no guidebook to handle the sadness or pain from the loss you've just had. While we were waiting for me to go into surgery I had to get a new nurse. We had been waiting so long that the previous nurses shift was over. She came in smiling, and without reading my chart she asked me why I was there. I couldn't help but want to choke her, but I knew that she was just doing her job ... but saying the actual words made it real. And that part I wasn't ready for.
Putting On A Smile
When you're a wedding photographer, it's not like you have PTO that you can cash in and say, "Eh I guess I'll take today off ... someone else will cover." You have promised to be there, unless you've already worked out something with the couple. Our loss was completely unexpected and I had surgery on a Monday and had a wedding to shoot on Saturday. It wasn't just a wedding, truth be told, none of them are for me. The difference for this one ... the bride is a friend of mine and some of the bridesmaids were also friends. I wasn't really sure what to do, because when you're pregnant everyone asks how you're feeling or wants to see your bump. These are things I didn't want to happen. The mere thought of it sent me into a downward spiral.
I just wanted Rachel to have the most amazing day of her life and I didn't want my loss to be talked about or have any attention on me whatsoever. I emailed my friends that were in the wedding and told them the news and asked them to privately relay the message to Rachel. I just couldn't bare to send another email and being a former bride I know how much stress goes into your wedding week. The last thing I wanted her to worry about was if her photographer was going to show up.
Strength comes from within
My husband being the amazing person he is, asked me if I really was physically able to do this. Another thing a lot of people don't know is that when you have surgery after losing your baby you basically become a TV ad for adult diapers and your body feels like it's been put through absolute hell and hit by a truck. I had a baby, but he didn't come home with me. My body was completely destroyed. I wasn't feeling the best, but I had to go and I needed to do this for them and honestly ... I needed to do it for myself. I needed to prove to myself that my life is and was going to go on, and all of these things that I have worked so hard for are worth all the pain and sadness that I felt inside.
I channeled all of those emotions and pushed myself to do the very best job for Rachel and Mike that I could. Their wedding day is the beginning of their family. They shared some of the most precious moments in life that anyone can ever ask for. This joy and these moments are why I drug myself out of bed and slapped a smile on my face. This day wasn't about me, it was about them and their love for one another. It was a huge milestone for me as a person to be able to overcome grief (even if for just a few hours) and channeling my loss for someone else's beginning.
Here is Rachel & Mike's beautiful wedding day blog post:
Other posts on our miscarriage: