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.

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.

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