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.

 

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.

 

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. 

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.

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