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.

 

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.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Skylar Franklin

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

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

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

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

Skylar

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

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

Franklin

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

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

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

He saw the uncertainty in my face.

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

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

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

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

Skylar Franklin.

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

Brown Recliner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You never know how lucky you are.

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