Family

Most people define family as the people that are of blood relation to you. Some, are fortunate to have family members that are a bit more than that. The people that choose to love you are far more precious than the ones that feel obligated to. Because let’s face it, we all have family members we sometimes wish we weren’t related to. My family is different than most. My immediate family is phenomenal, but the rest are, at times questionable. I haven’t spoken to my maternal grandmother in eleven years, and it’s not at my will. It’s a choice she made, and she now behaves as though I do not exist, in the most literal way you can imagine. 

Other family members live so very far away. People say “you love the one you’re near”, and I’m sure the fact that they’re thousands of miles away, and we haven’t seen each other in years is why they don’t know when my birthday is. 

As an adult, these things don’t bother me. I know the majority of my family love me, and for the others, I’m better off without them. When I was younger, having such a small circle was something I had trouble with. But, god blessed me with people who, though aren’t blood related, love me more than I could ever deserve. For example, my “Grandparents”.

My best friend brought me to church with her when we were freshman in high school, just months after my family ties were severed with my maternal grandmother and all those she could convince to join her. This church was filled with some of the most incredible people, some of them have had such strong impacts on my life. 

I recall being upset one Sunday morning, because the service that day involved something special for grandparents and their grandchildren. I walked out of the worship room, and right into the chest of the sweetest man I’ve ever known. He had a heart of gold, and the best hugs I’ve ever gotten. He would often wrap his long arms around my shoulders and bury my face in his white beard, calling me “sugar” as he hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe, and I loved every second of it. His name was George. 

As I literally ran into him that morning, tears in my eyes. He asked me what I was upset about. “I don’t have any grandparents”, I said, crying as if my world had ended. Teenage hormones are intense. Without asking why, or what to do, he simply grabbed me tight in one of those magnificent hugs, and said “baby, I’ll be your granddaddy”, and the rest is history. He would grab me up every chance he had, and profess to anyone that would listen how beautiful his granddaughter was, and how proud he was of me. I’ll never forget the way his cologne smelled on my hair after he got done loving on me. 

The moment he said he would be my grandpa, I diddnt understand how serious he was. My heart was so full when he and his wife, my grandma, showed up at my high school graduation. I remember being so upset when no family members showed, but they did. They brought me flowers, and took pictures with me. No one would have ever known they weren’t really related to me. No one else is as lucky as I am, because my grandparents chose me. 

When I got married, their names were on the programs. Our brothers were ushers, and my grandma was seated just like Michael’s were. They sat in the front row when I got married, and no one could have known how lucky I was, because that sweet southern man in the front row, in his bright white cowboy hat, and cowboy boots, was my grandpa. That beautiful woman on his arm, in her dark blue dress I helped her pick out, with a smile on her face so big she brightened the room, she was my grandma. Her name is Dorothy.

My grandpa is in heaven now, a few years ago he passed away, and I cried more at his funeral than I ever had. He was my granddaddy, and loved me more than most anyone. He was a magnificent man, and I’m so lucky to have known him so well. I am lucky he called me his granddaughter.

In the years since he’s been gone, that sweet woman he volunteered to be my grandma has shown me love I don’t deserve. She will drop everything to make sure I get a hug when she sees me, and they’re not unlike grandpas were. She squeezes me so tight, and lately she will just hold on to me, telling me how much she loves me. I thank god for her every moment I can. She is as honest as they come, and her faith is unwavering. I often try to be more like her. 

When I was in labor at the hospital, she was one of the first ones there. As she walked into the room, she came right to me. My faith had been so questioned that day. I was so angry, and I was sure no God would do this to me. I remember wanting to see her so deeply, and that very minute she walked in the door. As she hugged me tighter than she ever had, I asked her the one question I hadn’t the strength to ask anyone else. “How could God do this to me?” I thought, if anyone had an answer, it would be her. 

As my face was still buried in her shoulder, she told me she didn’t know. She had no explanation for why these things happen. But, her words comforted me. She told me I would get through this, that I was strong. She reminded me how much she loved me. I then realized how lucky I was to have her in a whole different way. I had always been so guarded, but I could be exactly who I was with her, and she would never love me any less. 

When my sweet Skylar was born, she was there. She heard me cry harder than I ever have as I held my first baby boy, and realized no matter how hard I wanted him to, he was never going to open his eyes. She was one of the first people to see him. She stayed there at the hospital the entire time I was in labor. At 2:17 am she walked into that hospital room and it filled me with so much love. 

When I talk about my grandmother, it’s her. She’s been there for me at every eventful moment of my life. When we announced our pregnancy, her reaction is the one I think of, and it is one I will never forget. She screamed with so much joy that it literally startled me. When I think back to when we told everyone what we were having, it is her voice I hear, when I think “it’s a boy!” 

When I question my faith, it is her I look to. Because she has been there for me. She loves me so much, and she doesn’t have to. Family is not defined by who’s blood runs through your veins. Family is defined by who loves you unconditionally. Family is who is there for you no matter what. Family is those who are proud to have you, and will claim you as theirs to whoever will listen. 

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Lost

As I sat at my desk at work, helping a patient, she looked up at my bulletin board and asked the one question I had been dreading to hear. I knew one day this would happen. One day, someone observant enough was going to ask me about my boy.. and I was going to have to handle it. I would be alone, and no one would be there to answer that question for me. 

She looked up at my bulletin board where my most recent ultrasounds were proudly displayed for the last eight months. This space was now empty. I recall my first day back at work, taking my last ultrasound picture down before I began my day, with tears in my eyes. I placed that ultrasound picture in my calendar and haven’t had the nerve to look at it since. 

I remember how much excitement it brought me, when patients would notice my little peanuts picture. They would ask me about him, and I would speak of my boy with such joy. No one has ever loved anything like I loved my Skylar. 

I knew one day someone I didn’t know well enough would ask, and I would have to handle it. I saw her look up, and my heart stopped. She looked at me and said “awe, you took your ultrasound picture down”. My stomach leapt into my throat so quickly, I thought I might vomit. The bitter taste in my mouth made it difficult to speak. 

Here it was, I knew this moment would come, but nothing prepared me for it. I had been through much worse at that point, I had been told my son was gone, given birth to him, and then had to say goodbye. However, at those times, it was acceptable for me to behave however I saw fit. I could weep to my hearts content, I could ignore people if I couldn’t handle what they said, I could walk away even, if I thought it would help me. At work, behaving this way was something you simply cannot do. 

My lack of response and obvious facial expression must have given me away. Rather than seeing my hurt, and leaving it at that, or consoling me somehow, she instead asked another question I was not prepared for. “Oh, did you loose the baby?” At this point, I decided the printer needed checking, and rose from my seat to do so. 

I do understand that this woman was simply trying to care for me, but in such an abrasive manner. As I checked the printer that was just fine, I jiggled the drawer to make it convincing. I simply just needed a moment, it gave me the strength to speak. As I returned to my desk, she asked of his name and mine, so she could pray for us. I did appreciate the gesture, and I felt relieved that I had made it through the situation I had been dreading for weeks. It had finally happened, and I had made it through it.

As she left, I realized how much her words did not set well with me. “Did you loose the baby?” I did not loose my baby. I didn’t put him down and forget where he was. I didn’t fall asleep and notice he was gone. I didn’t misplace my son. The word loss is not one that should be used in this type of situation. A mother should never be asked if her child she never got to meet was something she had lost. 

He was taken from me. I was not allowed to keep him. Every dream I ever had for him has been erased. My entire future must now be rewritten, because every dream I had for the rest of my life involved my son. It’s as if he had been dangled in front of me. How close I had been to raising the most beautiful boy on the planet. He was taken from my grasp at the worst time possible.

My son was not lost. I knew exactly where he was, and loved him more than life itself. If it were up to me, he would have never left my sight. I would have held him every moment of my life. I would have loved him more deeply than I’ve ever loved before. 

I couldn’t keep him. Something happened that warranted him leaving this world before he ever laid eyes on it. 

My baby boy was not lost. A baby is never lost. We don’t get to keep them.

Family Tree

I found some statistics on the internet earlier this week that really hurt my heart. I’m talking chest tightness, throat closing, stomach turning kind of hurt. The whole time I was pregnant, I knew losing my boy was a very realistic possibility. I recall thinking it happened more often decades ago, when mommas had babies on farms. Looking back at family trees, you would always see the babies that lived a couple days, or weeks. Even the babies like mine were on those branches. The chilling obviousness that came with a single date, rather than two below their name used to haunt me. I remember thinking how terrible that must have been, and begging god to never put me through that. The truth is, it happens just as often now, as it did all those years ago. However, I feel as though we handle it differently. People care less, we don’t speak about it, and we don’t do family trees.

Statistically, 1 in every 4 women will become a mother of loss.

Yearly in the US, there are approximately 600,000 pregnancies lost through miscarriage.

26,000 mothers give birth to stillborn babies every year in the US.

This means that there are 71 mothers every day in our country alone, that give birth to babies that will never cry, and never open their eyes, babies like my Skylar.

The loss of a baby is the most heart wrenching, breathtaking pain there is. But odds are, everyone knows at least one person it has happened to. If not, I can guarantee you know a mother who has experienced a miscarriage. Most of the time we never have explanations. We’re simply told sometimes, these things just happen.

What hurts my heart the most is that these things aren’t talked about nearly as much as they should be. In the time since Ive lost my son, I’ve found that most often, people choose not to talk about it. Some will even behave as if it never happened, as if my Skylar was an almost baby, and doesn’t count because we never brought him home.

I personally know someone else this has happened to. In fact, I know a few. But there’s one family I am close to. Three years ago, my husbands cousins lost their baby girl. Their story, so similar to my own that it sometimes gives me cold chills. I recall feeling for them so deeply when I learned what happened to their little family. My heart broke even more every time I saw  or thought of them, but I never brought it up. I was afraid to upset them. I was terrified that I would somehow remind them, and cause them pain.

Now that I am no longer on the outside looking in, I know how absurd this was. I can honestly say that I think of my sweet boy every minute. Nothing anyone says could simply remind me of him, as I will never forget him. He was the most perfect little boy I’ve ever laid eyes on, and remembering him brings me so much joy.

It is so much more hurtful to me when I feel as though what I’ve been through is being ignored. Weather it be for someone else’s sake or my own. I understand that my situation may make others uncomfortable, but what happened to us is something that needs to be talked about. Making arrangements for your first child with a funeral home before you’ve ever seen his face is the hardest thing I had ever done. That is, until I had to say goodbye. Leaving the hospital empty handed was something that should have sent me into a crippling mental state, but it didn’t.

Mothers go through these things so very often, and as time goes by, people behave as if it never happened. I’ve seen the change in people’s faces when I mention my Skylar. I sometimes choose not to mention him, because I don’t want others to share the hurt I have in my heart every day.

Every twenty minutes, a baby is stillborn in the US alone. It’s hard to imagine that 70 other little families went through what I did on the very same day. That is, because people don’t talk about it. Some people even behave as though were lucky we lost him as soon as we did.

Finding these statistics hurt me so deeply, because these numbers are so alarmingly high. How can it be possible that this happens so very often? Everyone handles grief differently, but there are so many others that feel just as I do.

My entire pregnancy I knew this could happen to me. How much harder might it have been if I had no idea it was possible, if I had no way to prepare myself?

These things need to be talked about. These babies must be remembered.

My family tree has a branch with Skylar’s name on it, and a single date below his name. It happened to me, and so many others as well.

Hope

I said goodbye to my son 35 days ago.

Life is now back in full swing, Michael and I have both returned to work, and we now rarely get visitors. I no longer have to tell people what happened, as everyone knows. At this point, several people when offering condolences, ask how we are doing and of course, my response is, “we are good” and now, it isn’t a lie. I’m not saying we don’t have bad days. But, I have learned how to turn them around when they come.

Last night, I felt the darkness start sneaking in. I found myself feeling sad, as I watered the tree my grandmother gave me on the one month anniversary of my son’s birth. This beautiful Crepe Myrtle I haven’t planted yet brought me such joy when she gave it to me. I could tell I was about to hit rock bottom again, I could literally feel the sadness coming. I remember feeling scared; I didn’t want to have another bad day. They have been few and far between, but when they hit, it’s as if I have a constant reminder in the back of my mind that my sweet boy is gone. All the darkest parts of our story roll about in my head like a broken record, reminding me of how sad I should be.

I am no stranger to depression. It’s something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, it’s as if something dark gets a hold of you and will not let go. You want to be happy, but you can’t. Just before I got pregnant with my sweet boy, I was in such a terrible place. Infertility made me such a terrible person; I almost hate to admit it. For the two years we were trying, I was jealous of everyone. It seemed everyone had what I wanted but could not have, and they didn’t appreciate it as much as I thought they should. If anyone ever complained around me about motherhood, or pregnancy, I wanted to scream. I hated myself, and I’m doing everything I can not to slip back into that person. Because, we are back to square one, I am still a childless woman, and it hurts. But, it only hurts if I think about it.

When I feel the darkness sinking in, I do everything I can to snap myself out of it. Distraction is key. It’s important to have things to look forward to. When I first found out my boy was gone, I remember thinking, now what? Now, when I feel it coming, I dive head first into the first distraction I can find. I try to plan the trip were taking for Christmas, or find home improvement ideas. I have a creative mind, and projects are the best distraction for me.

Last night would have been a night for nightmares. When I go to sleep upset, it’s almost like my mind plays tricks on me. The day of my ultrasound, the day of his birth, they play over and over in my dreams until I wake. I was sure to take one of my sleeping pills before bed to keep that from happening. This morning, as I got ready for work, I put on jewelry for the first time since everything happened; even though I still don’t wear makeup. This morning, I put extra effort into making sure I felt pretty. And today, I am fine. If someone asks, I can tell them I’m okay without fibbing about it.

I’ve had people ask me how I’m doing it, how I’ve been as good as I am, considering everything that’s happened. I suppose some don’t believe me when I tell them I’m alright. I definitely believe that the struggle I had with infertility prepared me for this. I was so excited, yet it all seemed too good to be true. I knew the possibility of losing my sweet boy was very real. Things like this happen so very often, but no one seems to talk about it. I knew this was a possibility, and I feel as though I was more prepared than anyone could have been. It’s almost as if I knew it was coming.

Earlier this week, I saw my doctor. When everything happened, I agreed to every test they had to offer. I wanted an answer, and I didn’t care how much it would cost. There are still tests were doing that are anticipated to be expensive, but the cost is still not important to me. I want to know what happened to our boy, what I did wrong. I don’t care how much it costs; I’ll make more money later. When I saw my doctor, she finally had some results for me. It turns out my placenta was ill formed; the umbilical cord was shorter, and smaller than normal. My boy didn’t get the blood flow he needed. There is so much relief in knowing there was nothing I did wrong, and there is now something to look for in the future, to be sure it doesn’t happen again. Knowing what happened has given me so much peace; I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something I had done.

When people ask how I’m doing it, how I have managed not to go crazy, I tell them I dive into distractions. I never allow myself to have any free time, and I don’t watch TV. Basically, I don’t allow myself to think. Because, honestly, there’s nothing I could do to change it. When I do think, I try to remember the good things, I try to be grateful for the time I had with him. No one has ever wanted anything more than I wanted my little boy, and I loved my Skylar more than anything. The story of my life will now always be divided into a before and after because of him. But, I try to look to the future. I try to imagine that the sadness I feel will somehow be worth happiness I’ll feel later in life. Not only have I hit rock bottom, I have started my uphill climb. Deeper valleys are caused by higher mountains, and hope is a powerful thing.

Looking back, I don’t know how I’ve made it through everything I have. People tell me how very strong I am, and I have started to believe them. I am a very different person today than I have ever been, especially in the last few months. If you would have told me this is who I would be today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I get through every day, looking forward. One day, we will have the joy we had when we heard his heart beat for the first time. Our children change us, weather they live or not.

 

Relationships 

When tragedy strikes your life, it’s amazing, the reactions you get from those around you. Some relationships grow, and others fall. I’ve noticed that some people embrace you, fighting tears for your sake, and wish you well. Often, people will offer to help you in any way they can. Others, don’t know what to say.
If it takes a village to raise a child, imagine the hurt that follows, when that very child is lost. My village is hurting, just as I am. Michael and I have become so humbled at the large amount of outpouring love we’ve seen over the past month since we lost our sweet baby boy. I’m in awe of the people in my life. However, some people have disappeared.

Where there are relationships that have grown, others have dwindled. Some people that were so very close to me, have become ghosts. Some acquaintances now, won’t even speak to me. At first, I understood the change, I understood the hesitation to come to me in comfort as so many had. I had assumed it was just hard for them. But, as time goes on, it seems to hurt worse.

I am grateful for the friends I have, the people that brought us food, the friends that came to sit and cry with me when I needed it. Some even go out of their way, just to make me laugh. There are some that I’ve grown closer with, friends that reach out to me often, to be sure I’m okay. I am so fortunate for the people that have stayed by my side. I just can’t help but wonder, about the people that have disappeared, and why.

But, I’ve never had trouble letting go. My parents had always found such humor in my lack of tolerance for things. I’ve never had time for those who would turn their backs on me. Life is too short, and no one who has been given the power to hurt me and does, will ever be given that power again. I’ve always been so careful to never hurt someone’s feelings, because you never know what others are going through. Therefore, if someone is hurtful, I have trouble coming back from it, what if there was something I was going through? What if I needed them?

When tragedy strikes your life, it is never expected. Imagine being in an argument with close friends just as it happens. People that were so close to you, people you told everything to, suddenly decided they were no longer there for you when you did nothing wrong. Imagine your closest friends no longer speaking to you for weeks, and you having no idea why. Then, being told your baby’s heart was no longer beating.

Imagine the shock. Have you ever lost something dear to you, even just for a moment? You turn around in the grocery store and realize your kiddo is missing. Maybe you walk into your backyard and notice your furry best friend is gone. Or maybe someone calls and says your mother is sick. How does that feel? When your heart skips a beat, when your stomach instantly knots so hard that it sends bile into your throat. In panic, maybe you can’t breathe, maybe you can’t speak, maybe you can’t stand, or walk.

What do you do?

After the ultrasound tech said those words that echo in every nightmare I’ve had sine it happened, “there’s no heartbeat”. She asked if there was anyone she could call for me, if I needed my phone. I didn’t know how to tell Skylar’s Daddy, my husband, that his baby was gone. I knew I must tell my mama in person, as she would not handle it well. Who else, did I want to speak with, she asked.. I wanted my friends.

Imagine how that feels. Imagine sitting in a dark ultrasound room alone, as the ultrasound tech went to get the doctor. Imagine sitting there, looking at your son on the screen, but not being able to touch your stomach like you always used to, because of how angry you are. You’ve failed the one person you loved more than life itself. Imagine how hard it is to breathe.

Imagine, once you get home from the hospital, and you announce to the world how your life has suddenly turned so dark. Imagine hearing from everyone, even the ones that were angry at you. But, some don’t reach out. Some, are invited to a friends house to help you feel better, but don’t show. Some coworkers avoid you in the hall at work, and haven’t said a word to you since you’ve returned.

I try to not be resentful. I try to understand. But sometimes, when I look back on these relationships, it is hard. When I find it bringing me down, I turn to the friends that have grown closer since. The people that reach out to me to be sure I’m okay. I turn to the friends I’ve had for years that I’ve grown so much closer with over the last month. Of course, I’ve lost so much, but I’m always sure to look at how much I’ve gained.

I am fortunate. There are so many remarkable people in my life, and everything I’ve been through has only made me stronger. I have a wonderful family, and an incredible husband who was there for me through it all. Maybe the ones that can’t spend time with me right now are just struggling. I’m always careful, you never know what others are going through.

Compassion

In the years that followed graduating high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. That is, until a woman I now call my grandmother insisted I belong in the medical field. My ‘grandma’ who is of no blood relation to me, had been an RN for years. I valued her opinion far more than others, as she knows me sometimes better than I know myself.
Instantly, I knew I must try my luck within a local doctors office, as I trusted my grandmother and her opinion. After all, she has claimed me as her own for years, and loves me even though she has no obligation to. I am so lucky to have her. But, the story of our relationship is for another day. 

I have now worked in the medical field for over six years. When my grandma mentioned how good I would do in this line of work, she spoke of it with such joy and excitement. I had worked at the doctors office for less than a month and knew she was right. I now work at a different office, and have changed roles through the years, but my feelings have never changed. I belong in a place where I can help people, where I can put my compassion to good use. 

On a rainy day in June, I was released from the hospital. My beautiful son had been born sleeping early that morning. As requested, my doctors allowed me to go home as soon as they knew I would be okay. I had lost so much that day, but there were also so many things I had gained. 

I was in the hospital for 36 hours, and in labor for 20. I met many people in my time there. So many came to love on us, care for us, and offer their help in what would be the roughest day of our lives. The nurses assigned to my care were remarkable. I often think of them now, and how grateful for them I am. I strongly believe that the only reason I made it through this nightmare was because of them, and their compassion. 

At this hospital, they have a nurse that specializes in cases like mine. She only visits with women like me, who will go home empty handed. I recall, at my doctors appointment when they told me my baby boy was gone, they didn’t want me to leave until I spoke with her. My, how badly I wanted to leave, I needed my husband. But, I’m glad they persisted. I remember thinking to myself, how could anyone want to do what she does? How could she handle this? I remember asking her this, though I don’t recall her response. I then remember telling her how much of a blessing she was. She was there for me from the moment my world turned upside down. Her name is Bonnie. 

I had to go home and wait until the hospital had a room for me. It would be over 12 hours. Once the hospital called, at 4:21 the next morning, Michael and I headed for the hospital. I was admitted an hour later, and who else would be there, but sweet Bonnie. She came in early that day, just for me. The entire time I was there, I remember feeling such relief every time she walked into our room. She helped us with everything from funeral arrangements, to the labor process. She made everything seem so much less scary.

She wasn’t the only nurse that helped me through the roughest days of my life, there were several more. I remember thinking about the ladies that helped me, and what they must have been going through. Their jobs were usually filled with joy, as they often welcomed little lives into the world every day. How hard it must have been, to walk into my room, and feel so much sorrow. My, how much they saw me cry. 

Talking with my family about my time in the hospital, I continue to learn about things the nurses had done for my family members, not just myself. Food, blankets, socks, one even got my little brother urine specimen cups and saline syringes for his contacts. Not only am I grateful for everything they did for me, but I feel so much relief when I know my family was taken care of, as well. I spent so much of my time worrying about them, and how miserable it must have been to spend so much time there, just for me. 

As each one of the nurses left me for the last time before I left for home, they all hugged me so sincerely. They all wished me so well, each one hurting for me. I’ve since gotten a card signed by them all in the mail. They did several other things I’m so grateful for, they did clay castings of our boys hands and feet, and got locks of his hair. They were phenomenal people. I feel so fortunate to have been cared for by every one of them. They are the reason I made it through it all.

I recall holding the clay casting of Skylar’s foot, as we pulled out of the parking lot. My eyes, so swollen, burning, and exhausted that crying no longer seemed possible. I remember thinking about sweet Bonnie, and all the things she had done for us to try to make this easier, like the clay I held in my hand, an exact replica of the toes I had dreamt about kissing, but never did. 

In that moment, I didn’t cry with the idea that we were going home empty handed. I didn’t weep at the thought that we were leaving our son in that hospital, or what might have been. I didn’t dwell on the fact that in the car behind us, a couple fought about getting their new baby into the car, and didn’t know how lucky they were. The only thing that went through my mind was Bonnie, and how deeply I felt I needed to do for others, what she had done for me.

I want to help mommies like me.

I want to be a nurse. 

I’m starting school in October, and helping women like me is what I was supposed to do with my life. 

My Sunshine

When I have to fight back tears on my way to work just for the sake of visibility, I can tell it’s going to be a bad day. On bad days, the littlest things are hard to get through. On days like today, I avoid my phone, I don’t turn on regular TV, just in case a huggies commercial comes on, and when in public, I avoid babies and pregnant women at all costs. On bad days, I stare at the few pictures I have of my baby boy, because I miss him more than I’ve ever missed anyone or anything in my entire life.

I sometimes find it strange that I miss him. I feel as though I never really got to meet him. I did know him, though. My Skylar was a stubborn little boy like his mama; he almost always gave the ultrasound techs a hard time. He liked ketchup like his daddy. I’ve always hated ketchup, but I couldn’t get enough while I was pregnant. Now, I eat ketchup even though I don’t really like it, because it makes me think of the time I had with my sweet boy. He was an early bird like his daddy, and would kick so much in the early mornings, that I couldn’t go back to sleep after Michael left for work.

I miss him, I miss his sweet face. I sometimes get so angry. I’ve wanted to be a Mommy for what seems like my entire life. Even though people tell me I am a mommy, I don’t think it’s true. I never got to bring home my baby boy. I never got to see him open his eyes, or hear him cry. My, how badly I wanted to hear him cry. I remember when he was born, I still had this glimmer of hope that I couldn’t quite snuff out. I knew he was gone, but what if a miracle happened? I held my breath for what seemed like forever, all the time begging god to make my baby boy cry. I would have given anything.

I try to tell myself that I did everything right, but I can’t help but think it’s my fault, and that I somehow failed him. Everything I read that would help him, I did. I slept with his blanket every single night; because people said it would be comforting for it to smell like me. I sang to him every single day, because people said he would be able to recognize the tune, and it would soothe him. It’s almost chilling, what I would sing to him. It’s almost like I knew.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

You make me happy when skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear. How much I love you.

So please don’t take my sunshine away.

My momma used to always joke that my mood controlled the weather. The day Skylar was born, there were storms everywhere. It stopped raining just long enough for us to get home from the hospital. It thundered, and hailed to no end. I used to always think my momma was silly for saying my mood and the weather were somehow linked.

Today the sky is gray, and it is raining. Today, it is very real to me that my sunshine is gone.

My Sweet Husband

Like so many other things in our lives lately, so many people have been offering advice on our marriage. Even the nurses at the hospital told us things that would help, and reminded us that everyone deals with grief differently. I thank god every day for the man he has given me. I’ve talked about my sweet Michael briefly in my writings, but I want to shed some light on him for a change.

Life with him hasn’t always been gravy, but it would be strange if it was. In just a few short months, we will have been together for 9 years. When I was struggling with infertility, I recall looking back at our time together as a time ticking away, as if I had been wasting my life. Now, I think of the time we’ve spent together, and I have a feeling of pride and accomplishment. We have been through so much, and my, how we have grown.

I have always had trouble with depression. Sometimes darkness sinks in, and I have a hard time getting around it. Michael would always be able to see when I was slipping into a bad phase, and he could snap me out of it. When we found out what we were about to go through, I remember feeling terrible when he begged me not to do anything selfish. There were times that he would look me straight in the eye, and beg me not to shut down on him, not to close him out like I used to. Now, every single time I find myself feeling the slightest bit upset, I tell him. He hasn’t once complained.

Looking back on everything we have been through in just the last month, I am in awe of the man I have married. Not only did he stay with me for every minute he could while we were in the hospital, he remained strong for me, and I am so grateful. Because I was in labor for 20 hours, there were some moments that things got a little scary. In fact, I recall there being a time when my blood pressure dropped so drastically that I was passing out every few minutes. The nurses were reassuring him that I was going to be okay, even through all that, he remained calm and comforting, which is not how our relationship usually works. Typically, I’m the strong one when it comes to stressful situations.

My sweet man stayed awake the entire time we were there, and he was holding my hand through it all. At one point, he and my daddy had a conversation about taking care of me. Aside from the circumstances, it was the sweetest thing I have ever heard. My daddy mentioned it has always been his job to protect me and care for me, and Michael reminded him that it was now his job. My heart was so warmed by the two most important men in my life sharing their love for me. I’ll never forget the way my daddy explained his concern for me. As I lay in the hospital bed in labor, he said it was like I was about to get hit by a Mack Truck, and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

The entire time I was pregnant, I recall dreaming about what our boy would look like. I’ve always admired how handsome my husband is, I simply couldn’t wait to have a little guy running around just like him. Just as he was born, I remember the doctor laying that sweet boy on my chest; I could only see the top of his head. My, how much hair he had. It was dark just like his daddy’s. I’ll never forget how Michael described him to me; I was still scared to see his face, as I wasn’t sure if I was able to handle it. He kept telling me how pretty our sweet Skylar was. He was so precious to me, a little boy that looked exactly like the love of my life. His nose, his chin, his eyes. I loved him so very much.

From the moment I got home from my doctor’s appointment on the day I learned our boy was gone, Michael has been stuck to me like glue. Since I’ve been back to work, he reaches out to me often, making sure I’m alright, and I’m sure there’s no way I would be, if it weren’t for him. He now puts up with all my new quirks. I often feel bad for waking him in the middle of the night, but when I have nightmares that wake me, panic always sinks in, and I have to make sure he’s breathing. After all this, I couldn’t imagine losing him, too.

There was a point when someone told me losing our sweet baby boy would either tear us apart, or make us stronger. I instantly remembered the moment I laid staring at my sweet husband, snoring like a bear. He was curled up with me in my tiny twin sized hospital bed after labor had come and gone. I recall thinking to myself; I had never loved him more. Isn’t it funny, how silly you seem when you look at your past, and realize how wrong you were. I thought I loved him more then, than I ever could. I love him more now than I ever have. I’m not sure how I’ll ever love him more than I do right now, but I’ve thought that in the past.

 

Time Heals All Things

There was a point not long ago that this very expression would upset me. I remember thinking to myself, how could this hurt possibly get any better? But, those who said it were right.
Time heals all things.

It’s been almost a month since I found out my little boys heart was no longer beating. I recall telling myself it would be okay, telling myself I was strong, and then immediately questioning how I thought I would ever make it through something like this.

In five days, I will be 4 weeks postpartum. In five days, I would have had a 1 month old.

Last night, when my husband and I got home from my parents house where we had dinner, there was a small box on our porch. In this small box, was the hand made ceramic urn I had ordered to put our baby’s ashes in. I wanted something a bit more than what the funeral home did for us, the new one has his name and birthdate on it. It’s absolutely beautiful. The moment my honey saw what was in that box, he was on my heels at every step. He’s been so very good at making sure he’s there for me every time I break down, and I could tell he was expecting it.

I looked at the new urn, and headed toward the baby’s room, Michael at my heels. The room doesn’t upset me anymore. In the first weeks, I wouldn’t even look in. But, we never closed the door. I have spent some time in the baby’s room since, holding the blanket and teddy bear from the hospital, weeping to my hearts content. But now, his room doesn’t upset me if I’m having a good day. Yesterday was a good day.

I opened the beautifully hand carved box the funeral home gave us. It brings me back to the Wednesday after he was born. The funeral home called to say his remains were ready to be brought home. Michael and I went as soon as we could. It was exactly one week since we found out his heart was no longer beating, exactly one week, down to the hour. As we walked into the funeral home, we were asked to sign a few last forms. Thankfully, Michael, was responsible for all the forms, as I could not have done it. Then, the director offered to “lead us to him”, as she put it.

We followed her down the hall of the old funeral home we were not unfamiliar with. We’ve said goodbye to many family members here. As she opened the parlor doors, my heart stopped. Much unlike the first time I was told my baby was gone, and much unlike the moment I first saw my baby boys face, my heart stopped. Seeing rows of chairs spaced out facing a small table surrounded in magnolias, sat a tiny dark finished box with forget me not flowers hand carved into the top. Unlike everything else, this was something I hadn’t had the chance to prepare myself for. I hadn’t realized going to get our sons remains would so much resemble a legitimate funeral service. In that moment, it all became very real.

The first time I held this box, Michael almost immediately took it from me, as I was trembling. Thinking about this now, I find it so remarkable that magnolias surrounded this little box. Magnolias, the favorite flower of so many of my family members, and the state flower of my home state. A magnificently old magnolia tree probably stands outside my grandparents home, the grandpa our sweet boy was named after. Magnolias have always brought me so much joy.

Yesterday, I picked up that very box from the funeral home, opened it, and removed the small velvet bag that held my baby boys ashes. I then placed them in the new urn, as I could feel Michael’s eyes on me, making sure I was alright, and as surprising as it sounds, I was. Yesterday I managed to do this without tears in my eyes, and without a lump in my throat. I placed the urn next to the first ultrasound picture we have of him, and I diddnt even cry.

Today, I even took the baby’s swing out of the living room, and put it in his room. Today, I took the bassinet out of my bedroom without a single struggle.

There are still bad days, but people are right when they tell you that time really does heal.

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