July 20, 2019
Here it is. Ten years.
It feels like just moments ago, and yet, ten years have passed by like a whisper. My heart has broken open, clutching to things my brain is struggling to muster into reality, and I can’t help but let tears fall down my face.
All I want to do is thrash around, screaming out for you to come back; but I know there is no use.
No one ever tells you about this part when your child dies. They leave out the intense human nature of searching and longing for your child. I frantically feel the need to look for you constantly even though my mind recalls the moments of your last heartbeats thumping against my chest.
And oh, I remember the harp player strumming sweet notes as I held you in that hospital room. You were covered in every wire and tube they could possibly attach to a one-pound infant.
And I remember feeling so strange as this woman sat quietly, and played music over us. And maybe God sent her, an angel, so I’d have a glimpse of what your life must be like in heaven.
Light filled that room in ways I cannot make sense of, and it brought a warmth to a time when my insides were icy cold. I remember the fear and the praying that constantly crossed my mind and lips as I was rushed all over the hospital in an attempt to save your precious life.
for some reason, part of me knew you’d never make it home. And the awful reality of it bit into my stomach, to which there is still no escape.
And I remember waiting to hear you cry, but no sounds came.
And I remember seeing you in NICU for the first time, with a tube protruding from your tiny mouth, as they made every attempt to help you breathe.
And I remember the day after your birth and moment the doctors told us there was no hope. No last- ditch effort.
No miracle that could save you.
I remember having to instantly be strong; because no one else would be. And that day I had to be the crusher of hopes. That day I had to tell everyone who ever meant anything to me, truly, that you would not live another day.
That day I had to make the decision on when to take you off life support. That day I had to be the voice that had to say, “It’s time.”
How can anyone get over the gravity of something like this? How can it be expected? When you hold your bright-eyed child in your arms and know you must let them die in the next few hours, nothing makes sense.
Nothing is natural about what is about to happen, and yet, because you’re a mother who cannot stand to see her infant suffering, you do what must be done.
And it wrecks your heart completely.
On a level so different than the loss of a parent or grandparent or friend.
Because when you hold your child as he dies, part of your heart dies too.
And I’ve wept more tears than I can count over the years. I’ve wanted to die. I’ve wanted to run into the hills and never return.
And I’ve never asked God why, because I don’t believe that God is the killer of babies. And all I’ve ever asked was for strength and for Him to stay with me.
And so, when I was told you’d be born on July 20, 2009, I prayed.
From nurses saying horrifying things like “I hope you don’t have bad news for me,” and my utter shock at the insanity of her words, because of course, I had no desire to have bad news either, to my compassion for this same nurse who minutes later rushed me back into the hospital with tears streaming down her cheeks, I asked God to stay with me.
And though her words hurt, I felt compassion for her, because I couldn’t imagine a job like hers, where bad news is delivered so very often.
And I remember begging her for one last piece of freedom before my world crashed around me and she granted me the solace of using the bathroom on my own before this horror story unfolded before my eyes.
And as I stared into the mirror, I prayed “Lord, stay with me.”
And He did.
I felt His arms envelop me as I was raced through the glass skybridge to the hospital. The sheer warmth of that long glass-enclosed bridge was astounding, surrounding my shaking body with the hug I so desperately needed in those moments before doors slid open and I was back on cool marble tile, racing to the next elevator.
No one tells you about the amount of medical staff that will surround your bed when you are about to have emergency surgery. Both arms grasped, poked, and inserted with multiple IV lines, “just in case.”
While your doctor wants you to understand the gravity of the situation, she does her best to be calm because she needs you to be calm so she can do her job to the best of her ability. And you feel awful for putting her through this ordeal, because despite it being her job, you don’t wish this part of it on anyone.
You attempt humor during surgery because your arms are strapped down as if you were to be crucified and the only way to not lose your mind is to ask questions and make poor attempts at what little humor can be found in the dire situation.
you don’t get to hear your son cry. Or see him over the blue drape of mystery that shields you from the sight of your body cut open on the narrowest table you’ve ever laid on.
They take your baby away and fight for his life, and you are left utterly alone with your doctors, wondering how long until you’ll see his tiny body.
Hours go by before you hear news. And hours and hours go by before you are recovered enough from surgery to even be able to see him in NICU.
And when you behold the tiniest baby you’ve ever seen through the plastic walls of an incubator, only then do realize the depths of what has taken place. All I can do is cry silent tears and wish I had the full use of my arms back from anesthesia.
I call our church and beg for someone to come out and baptize you because I don’t think you’ll make it home. Instead of a beautiful white gown and a church full of people who love you like we do, we have a makeshift baptism in your incubator, with tiny drops of water placed upon your head, and we aren’t even allowed to touch you yet.
And I hate that already I’m losing memories with you. Another celebration ripped from us.
I don’t want to leave this room, but I have to, because tomorrow brings more news I don’t want to hear. And I still don’t even have the strength to walk yet. People are arriving in the morning that I have to greet and hug, and I don’t know if I have it in me.
Even with sleeping meds, I can’t make the sleep come, because what if you need me and I’m not by your side?
In the morning, the sweetest angel of a doctor fights back tears as she tells me you won’t live. That you have the worst brain bleed she’s ever seen, and that there is no chance at life.
This wrecks her heart, and I can see the pain my situation is bringing her, and I hate it. I fight back hot tears that keep welling up in the back of my throat to call my dad and tell him that you won’t make it and that I have to take you off life support. Of all the calls, I dreaded that one most.
Because I knew that I had wrecked his heart too, and the gravity of it all became so real.
I waited for everyone who was coming to see you, and I selflessly gave everyone time with you, when all I wanted was to hold you to my chest and soak up every second of your time on earth.
Then sweet Nevaeh arrived, so excited to see you and I swallowed my tears and smiled at your darling sister who just wanted to meet her brother. She held your hand and told you that she loved you, and it wrecked every inch my remaining heart.
Because I knew you’d never come home. She kissed your head and all of me strained to remain in that moment for as long as I could because I knew it would be the last.
And then I had to tell everyone it was time to go. I watched tear-filled family leave the room one by one, and I hated how much this was hurting everyone. When they pulled the tubes from your tiny body and placed you in my arms, I sobbed so intensely that I feared I might scare you.
I tried to take in every little detail of you and saw how utterly perfect you were.
And I didn’t want to let you go.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening, because less than a day ago, you had been safely inside my womb. And each time the nurse listened to your heart, I thought, “this is it,” and then your tiny heart kept beating, slowing and slowing until it was no more.
No one tells you what happens when your baby dies.
No one tells you what it’s like to dress your lifeless infant in a gown way too big for him.
No one tells you that the nurses find you the prettiest, tiniest crocheted blanket you’ve ever seen to wrap your baby in when they die. And no one tells you that you feel like an awful mother because you didn’t think to bring your own blanket from home.
And no one tells you that your nurses are angels from God, and take every care with your baby like it’s their own.
no one tells you what it’s like to hand your dead infant back to one of these angels and walk away.
No one tells you how you manage to take those steps. No one prepares you for what that feels like.
All around you are other moms having babies, and your baby is dead.
And you can’t sleep in the hospital even with heavy sleeping medication. And you want your daughter to be there, but you don’t because you don’t want to scare her.
No one tells you what it’s like to see your own dad sob for the first time when he walks into your hospital room early the next morning. No one knows how to handle any of it.
And so, you see, I had to be strong, because no one else could be.
No one tells you that after your infant dies, you can ask to see them again. And when you ask, you wonder where he has been, and how cold it must be.
When they gather you into a room full of sofas and chairs with light flooding the windows, they hand you your little boy and he’s still dead. And he’s changed so much already.
His tiny body is cold, and he’s wrapped in many blankets, with a hat low on his head. And you don’t want to let him go, and your family sits around you and everyone cries.
You hold him so close and kiss his cheeks and hate that you can’t bring him home. You watch how this affects every person differently in the room, and it wrecks you more than you ever thought.
No one tells you that when you finally have to give your baby back to these nurses that it will take every ounce of strength you can fathom.
no one tells you that you want to clutch your baby to your chest and run away from these people, but you can’t.
You hand your son to this stranger without any idea where she will take him. And it feels the farthest thing from normal.
No one tells you how it feels to hear your dad say through tears “wait until I die to spread our ashes together, so he’ll never be alone.”
No one tells you what it’s like to leave the hospital with empty arms.
No one tells you what it’s like to go home to an empty nursery.
No one tells you how you have to fight the urge to wake up your daughter from her perfect slumber just to make sure she’s okay.
And no one tells you how much you want to die.
No one tells you how to plan a memorial service for your infant.
No one tells you how much you look forward to every single sunrise, hoping it’ll all be a dream.
No one tells you how much those silent mornings with your dad impact your heart.
No one tells you how to bind your breasts so your milk doesn’t leak through your black dress the day of your infant’s memorial service. Or how to wear spanx when you are less than 10 days out from an emergency c-section.
And no one tells you how many friends you’ll lose when your baby dies.
no one tells you how your husband will abandon you, and pretend it never happened, and how he will blame you for it; when nothing was in your control.
No one tells you how hard it is to pack up a nursery with your mom and best friend when all you want is to keep it all the way it was supposed to be.
No one tells you how every day gets worse.
No one tells you how utterly alone you feel.
No one tells you that all you’ll wish for is someone who can relate to what you’ve endured.
No one tells you that time doesn’t make it easier.
And no one seems to understand anything about who you now are.
And no one seems to realize that you’ll never be the same again.