I had a normal day at work that day before coming home with my husband to enjoy a normal evening in. But the realisation that something wasn't right, the stillness in my tummy as I sat on our sofa and desperately felt every inch of my body for a kick or hiccup wasn't normal. The growing panic in my husband's face wasn't normal as he searched my stomach with his hands and face to hear her heartbeat, or feel the flutters and gurgles he could normally find. The emergency scan, on which we would normally see our somersaulting, kicking and hiccuping little girl, displaying a grainy black and white image of an unmoving, heartbreakingly still baby....wasn't normal.
In that moment, normal disappears. Such a huge, heart-shaped hole appears the second you find out your precious bundle has died in your tummy, and normal can't exist around it, or fill it in, or cover it up. Normal slips through it and disappears, and you are left staring into the void, wondering how to find it again.
For now, we have to find our peace with this. In the early days my husband and I talked about 'getting back to normal eventually' but as the days trickle by, it's clear that normal doesn't exist anymore in the way we once knew it to.
So instead we tick off major milestones - the birth, leaving the house together after getting back from hospital, telling someone that we lost our little girl for the first time, registering her stillbirth, the funeral, the due date when we should have held her in our arms - and rejoice that each one comes and goes and we are still here, still standing, still coping. And we talk about the things that might help us to find some sort of new normal - changing our jobs, trying to conceive again, finding the courage to see friends and go places together.
Perhaps one day a new normal will emerge - one that enables us to find a balance and look further ahead than just to the end of each day. Hopefully our family will grow and we will be blessed with second child that we get to look after and love for a much longer time. But the shadow of that heart-shaped hole will always be there, that grainy black and white image will always overlay whatever new normal emerges. For now we learn to grieve - for the loss of our little girl, and the loss of normal.