My Story, by Kima

An interview with PS-WA Boardmember Kima Tozay, on Bereaved Mother’s Day

November 8th, 2017 will always be a day I remember. That is the day my son Jaxson was born stillborn due to a total placenta abruption as a result of Preeclampsia. Delivering him into this world and not hearing his cry as soon as he entered is an unforgettable experience.

What was the most challenging part of your postpartum experience?

In our society, miscarriage and stillbirth remain topics of shame and secrecy. It is difficult to find the words to talk about the death of a baby. For me, the most challenging part of becoming a new mom was not being able to bring my son Jaxson home with me. I had all the pregnancy-related symptoms without the reward of being able to hold my baby in my arms. Also, people who met me after my loss would ask how many children I have. Do you tell the truth or lie to protect the other person’s feelings?

Another problematic aspect was that even though I had been 7 ½ months pregnant, motherhood in an invisible form was a struggle to accept because I no longer had a baby. These were some of my most harrowing experiences in the first few years following Jaxson’s birth. Now I honor my motherhood on International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which is the first Sunday in May.

What do you wish you could tell another mother?

By speaking up about stillbirth, I hope that it gives other women the strength to also share their struggles instead of feeling shame, stigma, or guilt about their experiences. I want other women to know that they are not alone. It’s Ok not to be Ok; you are still a mother. And you are not to blame for what happened. Lastly, I’d want mothers like me to know that grief is a sign of love; your love for your baby will never end.

What did your mental health look like between pregnancy and postpartum?

I experienced depression and PTSD due to my traumatic birth experience and my son’s death. This was layered with normal grief reactions and made more complex by my earlier losses. For me, this looked like a mix of highs and lows, difficulty concentrating on day-to-day things because I was constantly reminded of my loss simply by seeing new babies in strollers, pregnant bellies in the hallways of my workplace, or being bombarded with celebratory mother’s day wishes and questions each year.   

What does/did your recovery journey look like?

I allowed myself to take a break from the stressful, triggering situations at work and in my life by asking for the support I needed. Finding a group of people who understand similar experiences has been very helpful in my recovery. I’ve found solace and healing through therapy and talking about what happened to my son and me. Now, I want to use my voice to share his story and empower others in similar circumstances to tell their own stories, whatever brings them peace.