Response

There are two types of people in this world.

When you find yourself in the darkest moments of your life, how do you respond?

Do you remain calm, processing what is about to happen to you, as you discover your life is about to change? Do you handle difficult things with composure, for the sake of those around you? Or do you allow your emotion to flood your mind? Do you allow yourself to behave however you please, no matter who you’re around?

In moments of tragedy, there are only two types of people.

 I often find myself concerned about other people when I have to tell them what has happened to me and my boy. In the beginning, when I first learned what happened, I remember apologizing to the ultrasound tech. I knew I had ruined her day. She cried with me when she had to tell me my boy was gone. 

When I met with the nurse that specialized in cases like mine just minutes after I found out, I remember asking her how she deals with people like me every day. As I was sure no one would ever want to do what she does. She just shook her head at me, and I didn’t understand why.

I was sent home that day, to get my things and wait for an available hospital room. We had time to kill, so we decided to go tell our families in person. I remember being so scared to tell my parents. My heart broke on a whole different level when for a split second, my daddy didn’t believe me. All my mom could say was how she couldn’t imagine what I was feeling. But in that moment, all I was feeling was worry for them, and how they were handling what I had just told them. 

The entire time I was admitted and in labor, I recall feeling so concerned for my family in the neighboring room, and if they were okay. I felt so bad for them, because they felt as though they had to be there for me. They must have been tired, uncomfortable, hungry, and of course, sad beyond belief.

In the time that followed my sons birth, people came to visit. The door to Skylar’s bedroom is near the front door, and right off the living room. I recall always worrying if seeing my home would upset visitors. The swing in the living room, the bassinet near my bed, the completely finished bedroom for our baby boy.. I had dealt with it at that point, but coming to see us and our home like that must have been devastating.

I returned to work quickly. Just days after I was released, I went to speak with my boss about my return. By that point, everyone in our family had adjusted to what had happened. However, walking into my place of work, that was not the case. I love so many of my coworkers so deeply. To see the sadness in their eyes as I told them about my beautiful boy was both endearing, and shattering at the same time. They cared so deeply for me. My little boy had impacted their lives so very much. 

When you become the person everyone hurts for, you’re treated differently. People want to hug you, and when they do, they sometimes loose their composure. As you’re holding someone, your chests touch, you can feel them breathe, your faces are close, you can hear their emotion.. and when they begin to cry, you can detect it with nearly every sense you have. I couldn’t tell you how many people I have hugged tighter, because I know their hearts are broken. They are crying for me. I wish I could take their pain away. 

A month after I lost my sweet Skylar, I had to go see my doctor to both make sure I was doing alright, and to get test results to find out what went wrong. One specific test they did is one I declined early in my pregnancy. It tests for genetic issues, and that was something I didn’t care about once I finally got pregnant. However, now that my little guy was gone, we were turning over every stone. 

As I completed my blood work and went to check out, the lady, without thinking, asked me how far along I was. I could hear the hesitation in my voice as I lowered my head and responded “I’m not pregnant”. That was something I have had to remind myself repeatedly, saying it aloud was difficult. You get so used to feeling a baby kick in your belly, that sometimes you think you feel them when they’re not there. 

I could see the horror in her face as she realized what she had just done. As we discussed appointments, and tests, she apologized multiple times. Michael rubbed my back the whole time. He won’t allow me to go to doctors appointments alone anymore, and I was so thankful he was there. He expected me to break in that moment, so he was comforting me in every way he could.

As our conversation came to a close, she apologized one more time. I decided to say what had been running through my mind the entire time I stood there. I told her to not worry about me. I had anticipated the regret she was feeling was something that might haunt her for some time. I didn’t want her to loose sleep over saying the wrong thing to a complete stranger. My heart hurt for her. Enough hearts had been broken already for me. Though it was difficult, I was thankful it was me she had done that to. That was a mistake she will never make again, and I was glad it was someone like me, someone who could handle it. 

Looking back on everything I’ve been through at this point, I find myself feeling thankful that I was the one carrying Skylar. Not just because I knew him best, but because I know I’m okay. I cant imagine how difficult this has been for those who love me. My husband, my parents, my best friends. I cant imagine watching someone hurt like I have been, or watching someone go through labor, knowing they wont get to keep their baby. I honestly believe its been harder for them. Because they watched it happen, and couldn’t fix it.

In every encounter I’ve found myself in since my boy has been gone, I’ve watched people closely. I’ve learned to be sensitive to the cues that come before the tears, and comfort those who hurt for me. Because it happened to me, I have the power to make people feel better. I can reassure everyone that I am indeed, okay. I’m thankful that I can comfort those who’s hearts are shattered for me and my little family. My little boy was so very loved. He would have been the luckiest little boy on the planet.

I found myself in a stressful situation this weekend that could have potentially been very bad, but it turned out okay. In those moments, I recognized a large division in the types of people that were around me.  As I comforted those who were in complete panic, it helped me realize how very different I was from them.

In this world, there are two types of people. The ones that want people to feel sorry for them, and the ones that feel bad for making others hurt. 

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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