Control

I haven’t written often lately, because I find it easier to share my feelings when they are good. Last week, that was not the case. Reality had sunken in and I had noticed the world around me getting darker and darker. At times, I didn’t know where my life was going anymore, and adjusting to that very idea had been very hard for me. The sadness that is associated with being the mother to a stillborn baby is rarely anything less than difficult. It’s often hard to tell the difference between depression, guilt, and grief.

In the two years it took me to get pregnant, I had hope. One day it might happen, one day I might be a mommy. Eventually I had started to lose hope. I recall telling my husband that we were only going to try for another six months. Once we had been trying for a total of two and a half years, I would be done. Now I’m back at square one. We do plan to try again, likely for a year. But I can’t help but think about how much harder it will be. The trying, the pregnancy, and who’s to say we won’t have our baby taken from us if were ever lucky enough to have another.

What if something is to happen again? I’ve handled this once, and not gracefully. I’m certain going through something like this a second time will break me. The uncertainty in life has started to change my spirit. Last week, I wasn’t nearly the person I used to be. I had known going through the loss of my first baby, my son, would change me. I try to limit how much I change, but the truth is, I haven’t got control over anything.

The hardest part about losing my sweet boy is that I feel like I never got to say goodbye. He was gone before I ever met him. I often try to imagine what would have made the situation harder or easier depending on how things could have been different. I do believe knowing something was wrong, but at least seeing his eyes open would have helped me. However, knowing he was already gone, I did have time to prepare myself. I try not to dwell on what could have been, simply because I can’t change it. But sometimes I can’t help myself.

Sunday morning, I sat in the fellowship hall of the church we’ve been regularly attending since we lost our boy. My husband and I were just sitting there talking about where our lives will be taking us in the next few months. My mind was brought back to the night before our sweet Skylar was born, the day I found out he was gone, yet I had to go home. Still pregnant, but aware that the baby in my belly was already gone. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever endured. I looked to my husband, in that busy café within the church, and said “I hope I never have to experience anything like that as long as I live. I hope in all my days that will be the worst of them all.”

I recall the fear I had in saying those words. My stomach felt tight, my throat filled with the lump I have grown so familiar with. This lump that always comes before tears. I was terrified. I’ve always been a person that needed to be in control of everything. God love my husband, as he has always tolerated my controlling tendencies. However, in that moment, as I thought about our future, and how terrified I was of going through something like that again, it became very real to me that I was not in control whatsoever. I had been so ignorant to think that I ever had a grasp on our lives, and what happens in them.

In the time since our son has been gone, I have held onto guilt. I grasp onto the blame like a light pole in a snowstorm. The results that came back making it obvious that it was not my fault have not helped me as much as I had hoped they would. I still can’t shake the feeling that my son literally died in the one place he was supposed to be his safest. My body was supposed to protect him. Instead, my body failed him.

I watched a video this weekend that changed my perspective on guilt. I often watch videos of this miraculous woman that calls herself the jersey belle. She shares stories of life and love, and her perspective on things, and though she always makes me feel better, this time in particular, the tears were rolling harder than they have in weeks.

She told us a story of someone she knew that was holding onto guilt after losing a friend in a car wreck. She blamed herself for the accident, when it couldn’t possibly be any fault of her own. I too, have been holding onto guilt, though what happened to my sweet boy couldn’t have been my fault. While telling the story, she mentioned she tried to understand why this woman was holding onto the guilt of her friends wreck, much like I hold on to the gilt of my sons demise.

She mentioned the guilt was the final thing we have control of. When you’re someone like me, and your nightmares come true, you try to grasp onto the only thing you can. Control is comforting to someone like me, and I’ve been grasping onto guilt because my world has fallen apart, and the only thing I have control over these days, is the way I feel.

This weekend, when I discovered my need for control was the root of my guilt, I was able to let it go. I was able to make a conscious effort to release the guilt of losing my boy. The light pole in snowstorm was not bringing me any healing. We never really have control of what happens in our lives, and once we accept the fact that our lives are completely out of our grasp, we get so much relief. 

It’s miraculous how your mind can go to great lengths to try to comfort yourself in all the wrong ways. Sometimes life throws us the scariest things, and we are simply just supposed to handle them. But, in reality the human mind is truly the scariest thing of all.

 

Advertisements

Light

When I first found out my boy was gone, he was still in my belly. Looking back now, it really is hard to believe I’ve been through as much as I have. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem real. It’s almost as if the last six weeks of my life have been a terrible dream that won’t end. Often people don’t know what to say. There is one thing most people do find the bravery to say, that my sweet Skylar is now in heaven. When I found out he was gone, and before I was in labor, I recall thinking I wasn’t sure if there was a God, or even a heaven, because surely no God would willingly put someone through this. 

My opinion of God was changed pretty quickly. When the pastor from our church came to see us after my sweet Skylar was born, he changed my heart. When I told him about how angry I was, and how God could have just as easily just told me “no” when I asked for a baby, he understood. He looked at me with tender eyes as he said “but wasn’t he beautiful? Aren’t you glad you had the time you did with him?” 

My entire outlook had been changed in an instant. My precious baby boy was a miracle. Though I would have given literally everything to have more time with him, I still wouldn’t change having him for the world. Before I even left the hospital, I knew there was a God. I didn’t know much about him still, but that was simply because I didn’t have the need to know him. Life has always been so good to me. That is, until my worst nightmare came true.

In the first days that I was home, so many people reached out to us. So many of them mentioning that our son was now in heaven. This of course, was something that I wanted to believe. The idea of my sons existence ending just as quickly as it began was simply something I couldn’t handle. Thus, I began looking into heaven. 

In the few short weeks it’s been since I’ve lost my sweet boy, I’ve read stories, books, and even bits of the Bible. I find so much comfort in thinking that what people say is true. That maybe, just like mommies point out their babies in the nursery, claiming how cute they are, maybe my sweet boy is pointing at me saying “look, there’s my mommy! Isn’t she pretty?” 

From the small amount I have learned about heaven so far, there are no doubts that I will do literally anything to get there. I’ve also found quite a bit of comfort in learning about God. All the questions I had in the beginning, about why God allowed my baby boy to be taken from me, or why so soon, I’ve found answers for each and every one of them. 

I’ve learned to accept why these things happen, and I’ve learned to have hope for what my life has in store. I do find myself scared sometimes, because I know it can be concerning to look forward to the next life as much as I do, but it’s only because I know where I’ll be going, and who is there.

I’ve found such comfort in learning all I can about heaven, and all things related. Doing anything to get there will bring me comfort as well. It is rare that a child gets to save their parent, but my Skylar has turned me toward the lord. My faith is far stronger than it has ever been. My sweet boy has saved me. His little hands now guide me toward the light. It is unclear if I would have made it into heaven before, but I will do anything to get there now.

Life Decisions

There is so much comfort that comes with knowing your family approves of your life decisions.

In the time I was in labor, my husband was by my side the entire time. Holding my hand, and being there for me every time I began to cry. I endured most of the labor naturally, as the physical pain was far easier to handle than the emotional pain I was being haunted with. Through my entire pregnancy, I had not been afraid of labor in the slightest. The end result, or the idea rather, of being handed my healthy baby boy made it all worth it. I still was not afraid of labor. I dove head first into the entire ordeal. Fear was not something that concerned me at that point. My worst fear had become a reality. Physical pain was something I welcomed.

My sweet Michael was there the whole time, and has been ever since. With other people, I try to remain strong, and hold back my tears when they come. I know my hurt makes most uncomfortable. But with Michael, I can let it all out. I can ugly cry until I can’t breathe, and he will comfort me the whole way. Snot and makeup everywhere, and he loves me all the same.

In the time since this has happened, so many people have come to me in praise for my sweet husband. So many have told me how much respect for him they have gained, since they’ve watched him care for me so diligently. Every member of my family, and even some of his, have sang his praises. All of those that were there for our Sons birth have mentioned how good he was to me, and how lucky I am. Not that I didn’t already know I was a lucky girl.

I’ve been writing of my gratitude of him ever since. Last week, I wrote a lengthy piece about a toy ship in a bottle that brought me so much peace when we bought it. The story that came with that ship in the bottle prompted me to get a collection of messages from miscellaneous people, one of which, being my mother. Now, I won’t share the exact message I had gotten from her, but I will mention that it sent me over the moon with joy.

Michel has always been a very timid guy. Out of respect of everyone around him, when he is not familiar with people, he will often not speak, but instead listen. This is something I’ve always loved about him. But, for my family, it was misleading. My Daddy expected a man that would shake his hand the day he met him, and talk to him without issue. This is not the kind of guy I married. Michael and my Daddy have a wonderful relationship now. In fact, he may talk to my Daddy more than I do.

When my mom sent me this message I hope to never forget, she said a few things that warmed my heart so deeply, and it sent me into the best mood I’ve had in nearly months. My mama knows me pretty well, as we are quite a bit alike. My mama knows that I struggle with depression sometimes. She admitted she worried about my choice in Michael at first, she mentioned she was worried that he wasn’t strong enough, and didn’t have enough personality to keep me. I’m a pretty strong willed girl, and she worried about his ability in keeping me happy.

She went on to mention that she made great efforts to be a good mom, and allow me to make my own choices. She was determined to support me in any decision I made, even if she worried they might be incorrect. She then mentioned how she had recently realized how very wrong he was. She mentioned that she now knows that my sweet Michael knows me better than anyone else possibly could, including herself.

She went on to mention the little ship in the bottle I had recently shared the story about. She said she would have seen that very object, and done her best to distract me from it, knowing it would bring me pain. Michael didn’t do that, he allowed me to see it, offered it to me, and we brought it home. He knew it would bring more tears, but it also brought me comfort. My mama mentioned she would have kept me from ever seeing it, but that’s not how Michael handled it. That ship in the bottle is in our little boy’s room, and my heart smiles every time I look at it.

She mentioned she has grown more comfortable with him over the years, as we’ve been together, and our marriage has grown, she has grown to know that he is a good man, and he loves me very much. She then mentioned her respect for him has grown since. After watching the way he has handled the grief we have had to endure in the loss of our boy, and the way he has been so careful to help me through it, with so much care and patience.

The last words in her message were of the most significance. She said “There’s no way you could have made a better choice. He is perfect, and I love him!”

I had always known he was the man for me. When he looked at me so tenderly when we first met, and the way he always respected me those years ago when we were still in high school, I knew he was the man I would marry. He would bring lunch for me at school every day, and he has worked so very hard to support me every day since. He puts me before himself at every given opportunity. Though every marriage has its moments, my confidence in my choice in him has never changed. These days, when I’m not ugly-crying, he has me giggle-snorting, and I love him more every day.

My heart has been so warmed when family members have mentioned how perfect he is for me. There really is so much comfort that comes with your family loving the man you’ve chosen just as much as you do.

Conversations

A friend of mine called me when I was three weeks into the nightmare I now live with every day. Her cousin had just joined the worst club there is, she was now a mama like me. A mother of loss. I instantly felt the need to reach out to her. Going through this is so very hard, and I had already learned that reaching out to others was immensely helpful. I recall being drawn to help her and her family in any way that I could.

When I hadn’t heard anything from her in a few weeks, I didn’t think much of it. Of course she didn’t know me, and she may have not been interested in opening up about the worst day of her life to a complete stranger. Three weeks later, her cousin, my friend, assisted in getting us into contact, and I’m so thankful she did.

A few days ago, she finally reached out to me. I recall before we spoke, thinking how lucky she was. Yes, she lost her sweet baby girl, and that’s the most terrible thing in the world. But, I felt as though she was more fortunate than I. Because she is still a momma after this, she has two boys at home to love on. I had assumed that would be better than what I have, my empty arms, childless. I had assumed wrong.

Once I got to talk with her, it was clear to me how very sweet she was. She talked with me about her struggles, and I shared both my struggles, and what I have learned in the time I’ve been grieving. She prayed for me over the phone in the deepest, most endearing way. I told her about all the scenarios at which people had changed my perspective, and what my views were on how to handle what we were going through, as it really does change you. Then, she had her own hand at changing my views.

We spoke about how terrible it is to go through something like this. I told her at first, how angry I was at God, and how I had really questioned my faith. After all, what kind of God would ever intentionally put someone through what we’re suffering through? In the calmest tone, she said to me “our God doesn’t want this” he soothing words washed over me as if I had been submerged in waves of relief. I believe she is right, she said “We live in a fallen world. This is why this happens; he didn’t do this to us”

My questions in faith had been immediately answered. This wasn’t the plan from the beginning. My miracle was, but his death was not. My little Skylar was meant to be, but I don’t believe God meant for this to happen to him. I was supposed to hold him as he cried when he was born. I was supposed to see his eyes open. I was supposed to watch him grow up. This fallen world took him from me, so on the bad days that I wish to no longer be here, I am not to blame.

We then discussed how difficult it was, the physical and emotional pain. How hard it was to deal with people again, and how hard it is for her to explain to her sons why their little sister is gone. In the time before I spoke with her, I had assumed everything was easier because she still had babies to hold. I recall the moment she mentioned how she told her boys, my stomach leapt into my throat, and cold chills covered my body. How difficult it must have been, explaining what happened to two small children. How terrible it must have been, to see their reactions and answer their questions. My heart instantly broke for her all over again.

Talking about my sweet boy always brings me so much joy. I love to tell people how beautiful he was. When I asked about her sweet girl, she spoke of her with such grace. Hearing someone else speak about their baby that’s now gone was so different, because for once it wasn’t me. Though it is sad, she spoke of her with such unconditional love. How lucky that little girl was, to have this very woman as her mommy. A mother’s love really is breathtaking. I recall feeling so grateful, that this complete stranger had opened up to me about such a raw hurt. Her words brought tears to my eyes for a whole different reason. I was in awe of this woman I had never met.

Just before we ended our phone conversation, she asked me a few questions about my experience of being a mother of loss. I recall telling her how very sad I am, and that God could have easily just said “no” to me, when I asked to be blessed with a baby. She asked me one simple question that changed everything in my heart. She said “If you could go back in time, and change everything, would you? Would you have never gotten pregnant?” She already knew what my answer would be.

The truth is, I would do it all over again. I would go through labor, I would lose my boy, I would see his little heart on that ultrasound screen motionless. I would do it all. In fact, even if I knew it could be worse. I would go through a much longer labor, worse pain; I would endure so very much worse if I had to. Because, I got to see how absolutely beautiful our baby could be. I got to feel the flutters of little hands and feet in my belly for months. I got to know what it’s like to love someone more than yourself.

I would do it all over again, just to see his face. I would endure it all, just to put his little fingers around mine one more time.

In the hour that we spoke, my heart had been healed so much. I find so much comfort in people giving me their perspective, and allowing their opinions to change my heart. My only hope is that through our conversation, I may have helped her as much as she helped me. Because, that was why I wanted to reach out to her in the first place.

 

A Rose By Any Other Name

Skylar Franklin

When the labor and delivery nurse asked me if we had a name for our son, I couldn’t speak. Tears welled up in my eyes, and the lump in my throat wouldn’t allow it.

I heard my husband tell the nurse our sons name. It then became so real. It’s astonishing how quickly your life plans can change.

We had just begun the labor induction process. It would be an estimated 24 hours before I would get to see my sons face, but we already knew his eyes would never open.

We had such a hard time choosing a name. I had collected a long list of possible names, with the intention of listing them in rapid fire at my husband the next time I caught him unoccupied. 

Skylar

When I said his name, amongst the list of several he said, “that one”, and I was sold. 

The idea of picking our sons name was so exciting. I had waited my whole life for this.

Franklin

It was the middle name of my grandfather. He had died when my mom was 16. She always talked about her daddy as if he had hung the moon. Using his name was a precious token to me, I’d never met him, but from what I had heard, he was loving and kind. Carrying on the name of someone like him was important to me.

I remember the morning before we shared his chosen name with our family, I laid in bed saying it over and over in my mind. I imagined what he would look like, oh how I couldn’t wait to see his face.

I rolled over to my sweet husband, Michael, and said our sons name with conviction. “I’m a southern girl” I said, “I have to make sure it sounds good when I yell at him” 

He saw the uncertainty in my face.

“You better make up your mind”, he said. My husband, though sweet, has always believed in though love. Plus, he already knew we had made the right choice.

I said our sons name again, and I remember thinking to myself, that’s him, that’s his name. We’ve named our son. I was so excited to be a mommy.

Three days after he was born, my tattoo artist had me verify the correct spelling just before he began marking that very name into my skin permanently. 

Oh, how I love the way it sounds. That’s his name, my only son, our boy.

Skylar Franklin.

My memories of him aren’t always sad. I remember my entire pregnancy as the happiest time in my life. The anxiety I had over such big decisions now, seem so silly.

Brown Recliner

In this brown recliner I bought at a garage sale, I weep. Holding a tiny light brown teddy bear, and a soft white blanket with my sons name printed all over it in blue and gray, I weep. These being the few sentimental items from my hospital stay just weeks ago. This, the blanket he was wrapped in when we said goodbye, and the bear the hospital gave us after they took pictures of them together.

This recliner, in the corner of the nursery I put together with so much hope and joy. I look at the clouds my mama and I painted on the wall, my baby’s name was Skylar, it all seemed so perfect. I follow the clouds on the wall until my eyes fall onto the corner shelves my daddy helped me hang. On them, a framed picture of my first ultrasound, a willow figurine of a mother and father with their new baby, and a small wooden box that now holds my precious baby boys ashes. 

I sit here sobbing in this brown recliner. The recliner I planned to spend countless hours and late nights in, rocking my baby boy, my Skylar. I remember sitting in it for the first time. How I tested it to be sure it was just perfect, proper swivel, rock, and reclining were all necessary. On a hot summers day I tested this chair at an older gentlemen’s driveway garage sale, boasting to him about how my sweet husband and I were having a baby boy in just a few short weeks. I’ve never been so proud or excited in all my days. 

It’s funny, how you get so much advice from even strangers about how becoming a new mom will be. Most will tell you how hard it is, how tired you’ll be, how your life is over. You’ll never have time alone again, you’ll never sleep again. Some will tell you to enjoy every second you have, because babies are miracles, and they grow so fast. Not one person warned me that my life could literally shatter in an instant. No one mentioned that I could be sent home from the hospital empty handed. Now I weep in a brown recliner in a nursery I have no need for. Wishing I had my baby boy in my arms. My, what I wouldn’t give to suffer exhaustion at the will of my beautiful boy. I would give anything in the world to hear him cry.

If I could give the world advice. It would be to never say negative things about motherhood to a pregnant woman, or her family. There is no possible way to know what they are about to be put through. Think about your words. Do you want them to echo in her mind? Your statements of negativity about your sweet baby. 

I read something recently that said “the love of a parent of loss is so much greater”. 

Love your babies. You never know who might be wishing they had them. 

You never know how lucky you are.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑