Frozen

Yesterday, as I stood outside on an early fall afternoon, I watched my dogs run around under the enormous maple trees in our front yard. The trees have been turning colors and I’m not nearly as excited about it as I usually am. Fall has always been my favorite season, but I feel as though my life has frozen since my son has been gone. I often have to remind myself that it is actually September, because I feel as though it should still be mid June.The last two months have been a complete blur. I feel as though I live in a haze, I go to work every day, and do chores at home. We pay our bills on time, and have dinner every night, but it feels like a dream, a fog, or more realistically, a nightmare.

Last night, as I watched my crazy girls run at full speed around my front yard, I gazed up at the trees I’ve always loved so much. They’re beginning to turn into the gorgeous fall tones I’ve always loved. The seasons changing is hard for me. I feel like I am leaving my sweet boy in the past. 

As I watched the leaves fall, I admired the cool breeze. I had opened all the windows in the house so we could enjoy the cool weather. For a brief second, I thought I heard a baby cry from Skylar’s room. I glanced at the green curtains blowing in the breeze and felt excitement, as I knew my baby needed me, and I was going to go pick him up and love on him. I used to be so excited to hold him. 

I then remembered this couldn’t be true. My boy was gone, and has been for months. Hearing him cry sometimes is usually something that wakes me up at night. I think it’s my hormones or something. Its as if my body knows there should be a baby in my life. 

I came back inside, and sat on the couch as I opened up my phone and scrolled through the pictures I have of my sweet boy. I stared at his perfect features, my emotions were yet again, so intense that I literally felt nauseated. As I looked at his pictures, and remembered how it felt to hold him, I felt very real, physical pain. Because my arms are so very empty, they literally hurt sometimes. My chest hurts as my heart breaks all over again. My throat burns as I choke back tears, and sometimes it’s even heard to breathe.

The world I’m in has been very dark lately, as I suppose I am entering the depression phase of the grief process. I don’t write as often as I did, because in the past I have tried very hard to share only positivity. I think quite a bit of my deep sadness branches from the seasons changing. Saturday will be my birthday. Last year for my birthday, I was so very sad that I was not yet a mommy.. yet here I am, back at square one, feeling the same way. 

Last October, I got pregnant. Last November, at thanksgiving, we announced to our family that we were finally having a baby. And last Christmas, we shared it with the world. These next few months will be very hard for me. In the changing seasons, I will be leaving my only baby behind.

I went to see one of my doctors recently because of deep depression and memory lapses. Both or which, are normal for what I’m going through. But, at my visit, she asked me if I had talked to anyone about how bad I’ve been feeling. My family doctor that has known me for as long as I can remember. I was honest with her when I said no. I have been shielding everyone in my life, including my best friends, my parents, and my husband, from how very bad I have been feeling. I have been pulling myself together for the sake of everyone else. I have been putting on a fake smile, and hiding all my pain. My doctor stressed that this will not help me. If I can handle being told my son was gone while still thinking I felt movement, if I can handle being in labor for 20 hours, if I can handle giving my son away to be cremated, everyone else should be able to handle my very raw emotion. I’ve since decided to share my darkest parts. My physical and emotional pain that comes with missing my baby boy with literally every fiber of my soul is something I will no longer hide.

Two and a half months ago I lost my son. People often tell me that one day, I will be a mommy, one day, I will have my happy ending. Though I do often wish I could fast forward to the next chapter in my life, I often also worry that it will never happen. Even if I do get to have another, who is to say something bad won’t happen in the third trimester again, or at birth, or while they’re an infant, or when they’re a teenager? I live in fear that I will never have a happy ending. I sometimes feel very lost, isolated, and alone. My world is filled with pain and fear, and it seems even antidepressants may not help me. 

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Dreams

Two months ago today, my son was born.

His due date has come and gone, as has the date I was to be induced. The one month anniversary came and went, and though it wasn’t easy, I made it through all of those days without too much trouble. Today, however, that is quite different. Today, I should have a two month old.

In the weeks that followed losing my sweet boy, I was given sleeping pills. Every time I fell asleep, my mind would play the hardest moments over, and over, until I startled myself awake. The recurrent scenes of being told my son no longer had a heartbeat, or having my beautiful, lifeless son given to me once he was born would upset me so greatly, that I would wake up crying breathlessly. I often woke either just before 2:17am, the moment he was born, or 04:21am, the moment we were called to the hospital. The sleeping pills would keep me from dreaming at all, or waking at times that would remind me of what I had been through.

Lately, I haven’t been taking any medication to help me sleep. I don’t need them anymore, now that my pregnancy hormones have gone. My dreaming habits have returned to normal, and most nights I don’t dream at all. Now, I often try to dream. I wish to dream of my Skylar. As I try to fall asleep, I’ll do my best to remember his face, or stare at his pictures. I want so deeply to know he is okay. I want so desperately to have him visit me in my dreams.

Dreaming of my boy in a future tense, rather than the moments when he was taken from my grasp is something I have hoped for. To see his eyes open to look at me was something I had longed for so deeply. I had always wondered what color his eyes would have been. I often try to dream of him just so I can see him open his eyes. The night we got home from the hospital. Michael and I laid in bed as I told him how sad I was that I would never know what color our baby’s eyes were. The next morning, Michael mentioned he had dreamed of our boy. He got to see the color of his eyes.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to see our baby’s face. I was so excited to see who he would look like. From the ultrasounds, it was pretty obvious he had his daddy’s nose. I picked on Michael so much for sharing that wide nose of his. We were so excited to see who our little guy looked like. The moment they told me he was gone; all I wanted was to see his little face. However, as he was born, I was scared I couldn’t handle it. It was until Michael told me how beautiful he was, and that he did indeed have that wide nose, that I couldn’t bear another moment not knowing what my sweet boy looked like.

I spent nine months imagining my sons face. I knew I was going to love him more than anything, as I already did. I love his daddy so much, that I would often hope he would look just like him. I often hoped he looked just like his daddy, but had the blue eyes just like so many people in my family have. Michael’s eyes are green, and I love them, but I hoped I would have a dark headed blue eyed little boy. It was hard to accept that I would now never know.

On the day after our son was born, Michael took me to breakfast. We were killing time until the pharmacy opened so I could get my pain medication. I sat in a booth awaiting our food as Michael looked at me and told me he had dreamt of our boy that night. I had kept my eyes lowered to avoid strangers and their concerned looks, as I was a complete mess. My eyes locked onto his as he told me about this dream, I hung on every word. He said the dream he had was brief, but he saw our sweet Skylar. His eyes were mostly blue, with green toward the middle. We already knew his eyelashes were long and dark like his daddy’s. How perfect it would have been to look into those eyes for the rest of my life? I try so hard every night to dream of him.

I often wonder if he is okay, and if he knows me. It’s so very hard to just accept that he is gone, and his existence is over. It’s so very hard to have never seen him alive. I long for any kind of communication, and I have always thought that a dream would help me know he is okay. I want so badly for him to know how much I loved him and that I would have given anything to save him.

Saturday, I watched a little girl that is close to my family. Her name is Dorothy. My Grandmother has her, and asked me to care for her that morning, as she had something to do that day. I have always enjoyed her company. We played with bubbles, and pet the horses. We had a phenomenal time. But, as she came into my home early that morning, she walked right into Skylar’s room. She put her little chin on the edge of his crib and said, “Where is he?” It was so strange to me that she said ‘he’. Little miss Dorothy and I had never really talked about the fact that the baby in my belly was a boy.

I stood silent in the doorway as I thought to myself about how deeply I wish to know the answer of that question myself. My Grandmother responded, “He’s in heaven, with Grandad”. I’ve been reading into heaven quite a bit lately. I’ve found a great amount of comfort in thinking that my little boy looks down on me from heaven, and sees how much I miss him. I can’t help but question sometimes if it really is true.

Dorothy responded, “No he’s not, he’s with Michael” Michael, my husband, was still in bed.

I’ve had a bit of trouble with the idea that my sweet boy is somehow not in heaven. After all, don’t people say that children can see those who are gone?

Last night, I awoke at 2:17am. I had been dreaming of my sweet boy. However, my dream did not wake me. As I woke, it took me a moment to adjust back to reality. In my dream, our boy was alive.

Michael and I were headed to some large get together where nearly everyone we knew was there, and I recall being nervous, as it was the first time we were taking our Skylar out to something like this. As we got there, strangers were telling us how adorable our boy was. In reality, I recall being so proud of him in the hospital, even though he was gone, he was still so very gorgeous. In my dream, people were coming to us, mentioning how they thought we had lost our sweet boy, and we got to tell them that our doctors were wrong. In this dream, I told so many people that it was a mistake; I explained to so many people with so very much joy, that our son had lived.

In this dream, my Skylar was the happiest little guy I had ever seen. He was about a year old, walking and somewhat talking. In the final moment before I awoke, he looked up at me, smiling. His eyes were so very bright, and his smile so genuine. I could tell he loved me, and looking at him being happy warmed my entire body with happiness. He looked at me as all babies look to their mamas, with so much love and trust. The relationship between a mother and her child is something I have longed to be a part of for as long as I remember. In that moment, though it was a dream, I was the happiest I’ve ever been.

Readjusting to reality upon waking up was remarkably difficult.

In my dream, my son’s eyes were blue, with green in them. In my dream, my baby boy was happy, and so was I. I hope he is in heaven, and he can see how very much I miss him today. I hope one day soon, I’ll be in heaven with him, and I can look into his eyes like I did in my dream last night, and feel the happiness wash over me once again.

 

When Time Stands Still

When the worst news I’ll ever hear filled the ultrasound room, time as I knew it came to a screeching halt. I forgot how to breathe. Speaking became a great effort. Making eye contact was nearly impossible. My hands were shaking, my mouth dry, though I didn’t want to eat or drink a thing. I suddenly didn’t care what time it was, or what day it was. Thus, time stood still. 
Terrible things like this happen every day. In fact, every 20 minutes a baby like my sweet Skylar is born in the United States. So many other terrible things happen each and every day, and time never really does slow down.

Everyone remembers the worst day of their lives. How their chest felt tight, as they tried to process whatever it was that changed their life for forever. Your throat closes up, and words become impossible. When Michael held our first baby for the first time, time halted. My, how differently I had imagined that moment would be. 

The saddest part, is that life goes on. You could be on your way home from the hospital after getting the worst news of your life, and you might find yourself being on the wrong end of a rage filled driver. You could be anywhere, and someone could be complaining about how terrible parenthood is, not realizing how painfully you wish to be in their shoes. 

Of course most people I encounter every day don’t know what happened, but because life has begun to move on, I don’t feel the need to tell them. In the time since I lost my boy, I can see the sting that comes with sharing such terrible news. To be frank, I’m tired of being the person everyone feels sorry for. 

I’ve recently had to tell another patient at work what happened to my sweet boy. There have been a few times that I’ve been greeted with seemingly harmless questions like “did you have that baby yet!?” Of course, I always have to tell them what happened. 

The most recent time I had to break the news to someone, it hurt me all over again, but not in the way you would think. The question was asked with such uplifting joy and excitement. When I said I had my baby, but he was gone, her face changed so very quickly. The sorrow was so deep as her eyes filled with tears. 

I sometimes wish I could lie to everyone, because I know I am on their mind for days and weeks afterward. Their hearts break for me, I can see it in their eyes weather or not tears come with the emotion on their faces. It’s one thing to have a broken heart, but to break others with the news of what’s happened to me is so much harder. 

But nevertheless, life has moved on. I’ve noticed it has become less acceptable to be upset about everything, and it’s only been 8 weeks ago. Though I have had two months to learn how to function in the world again, I will never be the same. I appreciate life and everything in it in a completely different light. As, you never know when everything important to you can be turned to ash in a tiny wooden box. 

Bills still come, as do condolence cards. Hospital bills have started flooding in. But there is an extra sting that comes with all the formula coupons, parenting magazines, and different “congratulations on your new baby” mailers from places like target, and diaper companies. 

I try to take one day at a time. Because two months ago time stood still. I understand in other moments, not just the bad, time stands still as well. Time for me stood still in the moments I married my husband, and when we first heard our baby boys heartbeat. I know one day, time will stand still for much better reasons. 

For three consecutive nights before I learned my boy was gone, I had a dream that I didn’t quite understand. I dreamt that I was in the delivery room meeting my baby for the first time. It was a beautiful birth, and that baby was crying to no end, just as I had begged for Skylar to when he was born. 

What was strange was, that baby was a girl. I recall waking up each time following this dream thinking, what? I’m having a boy? And I’m happy he’s a boy! Why am I dreaming this? I’ve clung to that dream ever since. It made no sense to me at the time, and I just told myself I must have been all my hormones. Now however, I hope that dream was a sign. 

The dream was so very real to me. In that dream, time stood still. I can still picture it clear as day. One day I hope time for me will stand still because of something good. But, until then, life moves on. Every day takes me further and further away from my sad, sad story.. and I’m okay with that. I try to look forward to what life has in store for me. I look forward to time standing still again. Because next time, it might be something good.

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.

Questioned 

In the times following the loss of our boy, some people have been very brave. Where some are distant, and don’t know what to say, others are intrusive, and sometimes make things more difficult than they should be. They ask me about things that I’ve had to learn how to answer carefully. They sometimes want to hear answers that I don’t even know. 

While I was in the hospital, about half way through labor, family members were showing up by the carload. This was something I hadn’t intended to have, so it was a bit difficult to handle on its own. I had originally wanted to spend the time we had with our sweet Skylar alone. Though looking back, I’m glad we had such a large amount of unwavering support. But, with a large volume of people, the questions soon followed. 

Why did this happen? 

What an awful question to ask me in the thick of it. To this day, this is probably the most difficult question I’m greeted with. In the days following his birth, we had no idea what we had done wrong.

Since then, we have found the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasoning. But, there are still far more tests to be done before we will have concrete answers. That being said, putting what we’ve learned into words is very difficult for me. Explaining where I went wrong, and how my body failed him will never be an easy conversation. 

Will you try again?

This question is less difficult these days. At first, people would try to offer me hope when it was too soon. You’ll have more, you’re still young, you can try again. I recall thinking I didn’t want to ever go though this again. As I sat in the ultrasound room when they were verifying my son was gone, I recall thinking I would never be pregnant again, that this would be the last time I ever saw an ultrasound. 

That is, until my doctor placed the most beautiful boy I had ever seen on my chest the second he was born. Once I stopped holding my breath and finally admitted the fact that he wasn’t going to cry, and my miracle was gone, I knew I needed to try again. The first time Michael held our son, in fact, the first time he had ever held a baby, he said the same. He looked at me with the most tender eyes and asked if we could try again, just one more time. We do intend to try again, but we don’t really know when. There’s quite a bit of healing that needs to happen before I’ll be ready. 

In the first few days after we had lost him, I remember thinking I didn’t want a replacement. I recall often telling Michael that I didn’t want another one. I wanted the baby I had, and no one could fix that. This hasn’t changed. When people tell me we will have another, it often rubs me the wrong way. I don’t want another one, I want my Skylar. Another baby will not heal me. One day we will head down that road again, but I don’t think it will be very soon.

What will you do with his things? 

To be honest, when I came home from my appointment, anticipating a call to begin my hospital admission and labor induction, I was terrified to go home. Just inside the front door, there is a nursery entirely complete, and ready for a baby. A baby that slipped from our grasp far too soon. 

It’s been six weeks since our son was born, and some still ask this question of me. His room has not changed. 

The bassinet that was in my bedroom is now packed away in a closet. The baby swing that was in the living room has now been moved. However, his room remains the same. Putting together his room brought me so much joy. I had waited to be a mommy for years, to finally be able to put together a nursery was the happiest days of my life. Not to mention, in this room is the nicest furniture we’ve ever owned. The room is perfect, just like our boy was. 

Even after our Skylar was gone, his room still brought me joy. Of course, there was the hurt that came with knowing it is a room that is no longer needed. But, I have always admired when things look nice, and my hard work has paid off, and his room is the nicest one in the house. 

His room is decorated with clouds, anchors, ships, and cars. Plus, planes, maps, and compasses. The day after Skylar was born, Michael wheeled me around Walmart while we waited for my prescriptions. A small decor item caught my eye. It was a small bottle with a ship in it. I recall initially thinking how perfect it was for our boys room, and them remembering we had said goodbye to him less that 24 hours before. As I lost every ounce of composure I had, Michael placed the bottle in the cart, and we brought it home that day. I wept as he immediately placed it in his room when we got home.

I don’t intend on changing his room whatsoever. It will remain as it is, until we are pregnant again. For now, there’s an urn on the shelf on the corner of the room. With that, there are clay castings of our sons hands and feet. His hospital bag is still packed, and sitting on the changing table. In his crib, there’s is a memory box filled with special things to me. The hat he wore with his name on it, forget me not seeds from the hospital staff, his footprint cards. The alphabet book my best friend had made for him from the baby shower, all the condolence cards we received, all his ultrasounds, and his birth certificate. 

This room belongs to Skylar. The soft white blanket he was wrapped in at the hospital with his name all over it in blue and gray is draped over the back of the recliner I sit in this very moment as I write. 

I often spend time in this room. It is where my son is. It is where I spent so much time and effort building the life I thought my son would have. This room is where I go to be close to him. 

His things are going nowhere. The white letters that spell out his name still hang on the wall, and the ship in the bottle we bought after he was gone still sits on the end table next to me. One day, life will have moved forward enough that I may change my mind. But for now, I sit in the recliner in his room, and remember how happy he made me for every second he was here. 

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.

 

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