Torres/Snyder/Winship Family

Megan Torres daughter, Nova, was stillborn in 2015. She discovered that grief lasts much longer than she expected. Her mother, Michelle, balances her own grief with her desire to support her daughter. Megan’s son, Mason, shares what excited him most about being a big brother.

Mason: My sister.

Megan: My daughter.

Michelle: My granddaughter.

Megan: I had gone to a sonogram appointment, and they were having trouble getting all the measurements. And I didn’t even think anything of it. A couple weeks later, I was pulled into another room with two doctors, and they told me she’s not going to live past birth. My grief was pretty unbearable. I had already felt her moving, and I already felt like, (wipes away tears) like she was mine. I just wanted to give her the best life that I could while she was inside of me.

It was definitely something that I didn’t ever think I’d ever have to go through. It’s just like an empty feeling, which I still feel, today.

Michelle: After her delivery, I sat there, and I thought, “I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking a baby that didn’t really need to be rocked.” The nurse came in, and Megan just told her she loved her, and kissed her, and handed her to the nurse, and we just sat there, together, and hugged, and cried, and watched her go.

Megan was always very honest with Mason and would give him as much information as she felt he could handle. When he was younger, I don’t know how much he actually understood, while it was happening. I think as he’s gotten older, he still keeps little mementos or things that make him feel close to Nova. He’ll look up in the sky, sometimes, you know, throughout the years, and be like, “Oh, there’s a star for Nova.”

Megan: I definitely did have days, where, maybe, I didn’t want to get out of bed, but having him there, knowing I needed to take care of him, made me get out of bed. And sometimes, when I’m having a hard day, that still is what gets me up, and gets me going, and pushes me through the day. So, I feel like I owe a lot to Mason, that he might not understand now, or he doesn't even know, but I know that he will when he’s older.

Michelle: As Megan has branched off on her own, and has dealt more with her grief on her own, she’s with me less. I don’t know if I like that, all the time, because I worry about her, all the time, but I know that that’s healthy for her. I love that she’s found ways to deal with grief and to wrap her mind around what’s happened to her. I often try not to think about how it was for me. I just try to focus on Megan or Mason. And I think I do that so that I don’t have to feel the way I feel about it. She tells me, to this day, “I wish I would’ve held her more.” And I said, “Well, you did the best that you could do. We all did the best that we could do. We’re all doing the best we can do, now.”

Play Video placeholderMegan Torres: Being Around Babies

In the beginning it was very difficult to be around um, babies no matter what baby it was. So I tried to not be around babies (laughing). Probably like even like a year or two after, it was definitely hard you know, but then I had um a friend who, she had a little girl um, maybe like I think she was born a year after, around a year after Nova, maybe two years, um and I thought that that was going to be the hardest thing like, how could I be there for my friend and her baby? Um, but when she had her, it was... I don’t know, it was like... Obviously I was sad, but I was like just so intensely happy like for my friend, and um, but I do remember like I went to her baby shower and I remember I had to like, I had to leave when she was opening the presents, like something just came over me. And I was like, just could not handle it. And obviously, she understood. So I think to me that kind of, like after she had her daughter, it was kind of like a turning point then, because then I felt like you know, I can do this, I can be around other children and obviously I still like, you know, miss her. And when I think of you know, my friends daughter like, “Oh, they would be best friends, now.” Um, but, and that’s- it’s like, a sad feeling but it’s... it’s also, I guess, it doesn’t make me like super emotional (laughing), I guess, I can definitely handle it now.

Play Video placeholderMegan Torres: Expectation vs. Reality

Grief, uh, was definitely not what I expected, you know I’ve had losses in my life before, like you know I lost um, my grandma but this was all when I was like younger. , I’ve been to- you know, I’ve been to funerals for various family members but... Being so young, like, I- I mean I do remember being sad but it was like, you know, to me back then, it was like, oh well life goes on and you know I didn’t have any other real experience with it. Until, um, you know with Nova, and, I guess it just like, they say grief is like a wave and it really is. (laughing). Um, it’s like ups and downs and you just, um, I think like realizing that that’s how it really is, you know, and connecting with other people too, mainly on like um, social media and stuff, and seeing that they have the same feelings I do. Like, made me feel like, oh, you know you’re not alone. You’re feeling the same way.

Play Video placeholderMegan Torres: Grief and Guilt

As time went on, obviously you find joy in things and then sometimes you feel guilty about like, “Oh, I’m having a good time,” when I should be sad. But you think about it like they would not want you to be sad. I know that Nova would still want me to enjoy life as much as I could.

Play Video placeholderMegan Torres: How Many Children Do You Have

When I meet someone new and they ask how many children I have, I feel a lot of guilt towards this because sometimes I feel like even now, you know, four years later, it’s still hard for me to say: “I have two, but one is in heaven or no longer with us.” Um, that’s still something that I haven’t- I mean, I think I’ve done it, like, one time, um, but it was definitely very hard. I feel like it’s easier just to say, “Oh, I have- I have one,” and then I always feel, like, that huge guilt because I know I have two. Um... And then I feel like, I guess I say that because I’m- I’m trying to spare the questions because, like, I don’t want the questions. And then I don’t wanna, like, make this other person, like, feel sad. Um, that’s still, like, something that I’m still trying to work through is that.

Play Video placeholderMichelle Winship: The Hardest Moment

After her delivery and everybody was together and our family was all there.

I sat there and I thought, I’m sitting there rocking a baby that didn’t really need to be rocked,

I remember the hardest part was, you know, the nurse went away and then it was just me and Megan and Nova in the room. And everybody was tucked in and I laid down on this very uncomfortable cot and, um, I just remember at that point, that was one of those moments where you have the time to grieve yourself. And I just sobbed. Because I just, I, I just felt like I couldn’t do any more, I can’t, um, think about this anymore, I can’t do anything more, I can’t change it from happening.

Um, it was, it was an exhaustion, I think that was part of it. Um, but it was just, I don’t know where it came from, it came from your gut and it just overtook everything.

The next day. Um, most of the day had, had gone by. It was early afternoon, and, um, as I, as I watched the baby and I saw how she was weathering through, um, the time after her passing, I knew that it was time for Megan to, to say goodbye and to hold her for the last time. So I just asked her, you know, I said, “Are you okay if I call a nurse? I, I think it’s time for us to call the, the funeral director and, and start making arrangements.” And I think she went through the motions. She’s, you know, agreed, and we got the baby and we sat on the bed and, um, I sat next to her and she held her. And the nurse came in and, um, Megan, of course, was upset and crying. And just told her she loved her, and kissed her, and handed her to the nurse. And we just sat there together and hugged and cried and watched her go.

Play Video placeholderMichelle Winship: The Onesie

When I would have time to talk with each of the girls, they all grieved differently. Um, they, my youngest daughter, at that time, had a little onesie that Megan let her have, that was meant for Nova, and she kept that with her. Still keeps it with her today. Sleep, it’s underneath her pillow. Um, and, you know, there’s been people that have said, well that doesn’t seem very healthy. And I said, well, why doesn’t it seem healthy? You know, that, it helps her feel close to someone that she had a lot of, um, dreams for and, and was going to have in her life.

Close up of Megan Torres in a black jacket smiling and looking to the top right of the frame.
Mason Torres stands at the top of a sliding board dressed in a blue jacket backlit by a fading sun and tress
MIchelle Torres poses in a pair of large-framed sunglasses, looking offscreen with a tree reflected on the glasses

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