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.

 

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.

Compassion

In the years that followed graduating high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. That is, until a woman I now call my grandmother insisted I belong in the medical field. My ‘grandma’ who is of no blood relation to me, had been an RN for years. I valued her opinion far more than others, as she knows me sometimes better than I know myself.
Instantly, I knew I must try my luck within a local doctors office, as I trusted my grandmother and her opinion. After all, she has claimed me as her own for years, and loves me even though she has no obligation to. I am so lucky to have her. But, the story of our relationship is for another day. 

I have now worked in the medical field for over six years. When my grandma mentioned how good I would do in this line of work, she spoke of it with such joy and excitement. I had worked at the doctors office for less than a month and knew she was right. I now work at a different office, and have changed roles through the years, but my feelings have never changed. I belong in a place where I can help people, where I can put my compassion to good use. 

On a rainy day in June, I was released from the hospital. My beautiful son had been born sleeping early that morning. As requested, my doctors allowed me to go home as soon as they knew I would be okay. I had lost so much that day, but there were also so many things I had gained. 

I was in the hospital for 36 hours, and in labor for 20. I met many people in my time there. So many came to love on us, care for us, and offer their help in what would be the roughest day of our lives. The nurses assigned to my care were remarkable. I often think of them now, and how grateful for them I am. I strongly believe that the only reason I made it through this nightmare was because of them, and their compassion. 

At this hospital, they have a nurse that specializes in cases like mine. She only visits with women like me, who will go home empty handed. I recall, at my doctors appointment when they told me my baby boy was gone, they didn’t want me to leave until I spoke with her. My, how badly I wanted to leave, I needed my husband. But, I’m glad they persisted. I remember thinking to myself, how could anyone want to do what she does? How could she handle this? I remember asking her this, though I don’t recall her response. I then remember telling her how much of a blessing she was. She was there for me from the moment my world turned upside down. Her name is Bonnie. 

I had to go home and wait until the hospital had a room for me. It would be over 12 hours. Once the hospital called, at 4:21 the next morning, Michael and I headed for the hospital. I was admitted an hour later, and who else would be there, but sweet Bonnie. She came in early that day, just for me. The entire time I was there, I remember feeling such relief every time she walked into our room. She helped us with everything from funeral arrangements, to the labor process. She made everything seem so much less scary.

She wasn’t the only nurse that helped me through the roughest days of my life, there were several more. I remember thinking about the ladies that helped me, and what they must have been going through. Their jobs were usually filled with joy, as they often welcomed little lives into the world every day. How hard it must have been, to walk into my room, and feel so much sorrow. My, how much they saw me cry. 

Talking with my family about my time in the hospital, I continue to learn about things the nurses had done for my family members, not just myself. Food, blankets, socks, one even got my little brother urine specimen cups and saline syringes for his contacts. Not only am I grateful for everything they did for me, but I feel so much relief when I know my family was taken care of, as well. I spent so much of my time worrying about them, and how miserable it must have been to spend so much time there, just for me. 

As each one of the nurses left me for the last time before I left for home, they all hugged me so sincerely. They all wished me so well, each one hurting for me. I’ve since gotten a card signed by them all in the mail. They did several other things I’m so grateful for, they did clay castings of our boys hands and feet, and got locks of his hair. They were phenomenal people. I feel so fortunate to have been cared for by every one of them. They are the reason I made it through it all.

I recall holding the clay casting of Skylar’s foot, as we pulled out of the parking lot. My eyes, so swollen, burning, and exhausted that crying no longer seemed possible. I remember thinking about sweet Bonnie, and all the things she had done for us to try to make this easier, like the clay I held in my hand, an exact replica of the toes I had dreamt about kissing, but never did. 

In that moment, I didn’t cry with the idea that we were going home empty handed. I didn’t weep at the thought that we were leaving our son in that hospital, or what might have been. I didn’t dwell on the fact that in the car behind us, a couple fought about getting their new baby into the car, and didn’t know how lucky they were. The only thing that went through my mind was Bonnie, and how deeply I felt I needed to do for others, what she had done for me.

I want to help mommies like me.

I want to be a nurse. 

I’m starting school in October, and helping women like me is what I was supposed to do with my life. 

My Sunshine

When I have to fight back tears on my way to work just for the sake of visibility, I can tell it’s going to be a bad day. On bad days, the littlest things are hard to get through. On days like today, I avoid my phone, I don’t turn on regular TV, just in case a huggies commercial comes on, and when in public, I avoid babies and pregnant women at all costs. On bad days, I stare at the few pictures I have of my baby boy, because I miss him more than I’ve ever missed anyone or anything in my entire life.

I sometimes find it strange that I miss him. I feel as though I never really got to meet him. I did know him, though. My Skylar was a stubborn little boy like his mama; he almost always gave the ultrasound techs a hard time. He liked ketchup like his daddy. I’ve always hated ketchup, but I couldn’t get enough while I was pregnant. Now, I eat ketchup even though I don’t really like it, because it makes me think of the time I had with my sweet boy. He was an early bird like his daddy, and would kick so much in the early mornings, that I couldn’t go back to sleep after Michael left for work.

I miss him, I miss his sweet face. I sometimes get so angry. I’ve wanted to be a Mommy for what seems like my entire life. Even though people tell me I am a mommy, I don’t think it’s true. I never got to bring home my baby boy. I never got to see him open his eyes, or hear him cry. My, how badly I wanted to hear him cry. I remember when he was born, I still had this glimmer of hope that I couldn’t quite snuff out. I knew he was gone, but what if a miracle happened? I held my breath for what seemed like forever, all the time begging god to make my baby boy cry. I would have given anything.

I try to tell myself that I did everything right, but I can’t help but think it’s my fault, and that I somehow failed him. Everything I read that would help him, I did. I slept with his blanket every single night; because people said it would be comforting for it to smell like me. I sang to him every single day, because people said he would be able to recognize the tune, and it would soothe him. It’s almost chilling, what I would sing to him. It’s almost like I knew.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

You make me happy when skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear. How much I love you.

So please don’t take my sunshine away.

My momma used to always joke that my mood controlled the weather. The day Skylar was born, there were storms everywhere. It stopped raining just long enough for us to get home from the hospital. It thundered, and hailed to no end. I used to always think my momma was silly for saying my mood and the weather were somehow linked.

Today the sky is gray, and it is raining. Today, it is very real to me that my sunshine is gone.

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