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It’s been 2 years since you stopped moving. 2 years and 2 days will mark the anniversary when you arrived in the world sleeping instead of crying. Those days were a blur of a nightmare I could not escape.
Nothing prepares you for the words “I’m sorry for your loss. He is no longer with us”. They were repeating what I already knew but the words ended my innocence. It changed me. I was no longer pregnant with my second baby, my first son… I was alone. The lump in my throat was nothing compared to the lump in my stomach that used to be full of life but was still. After a loss is confirmed, discussions turn to how do we want to proceed? I don’t.
I want back what was stolen from me. My dreams, my plans, who I used to be… and most of all the son I loved with my whole being. I loved you and knew you in ways no one else got the chance to experience. I wanted the world to share with me how special you were but that dream was over.
It took 2 days for you to arrive in the world. I laid there waiting for you, alone in my body and alone in my thoughts. My husband was by my side and we had our family’s support but nobody understands the emotions a mother feels waiting to meet her sleeping baby. I thought a lot during those 2 days. Some thoughts I shared but most I kept private.
I learned more about my strength in the following months and years than I ever thought I was capable of.
The time spent at the hospital was difficult but the weeks that followed were worse. The day we came home, the house had this cloud of emptiness hovering over it. My daughter was making the usual noises a 2-year-old makes but there was a deafening unexplained silence that a loss brings. The bag of boyish fabric I bought to make bedsheets and sew a quilt for his arrival, sat there with no purpose. The maternity clothes I wore, contained a body recovering in emotional and physical pain instead of a body bringing life.
People called, offered their condolences, did everything to be supportive but nothing changed the fact you were gone. The weeks that followed were filled with confusion about what happened. Why us? We did everything we previously did while I was pregnant with my first daughter. Ate healthy, no smoking, drinking or drug use, took daily prenatal vitamins, was active and took precautions to avoid the no-no’s they tell you to avoid while pregnant.
The autopsy results came in a few weeks later. The diagnosis was Hydrops Fetalis caused by Noonan Syndrome mutation RIT1. The confusion transferred to what more could we lose? A genetic counselor shed light on some of our questions but it made my fears grow. If I or my husband were carriers, our daughter who appeared healthy was at risk for having it. If one of us had it, we may be in for some serious health complications that could arise during midlife and had a 50% chance of passing it on to future offspring.
Grief turned to fear of the unknown and in my panic, a moment of clarity came over me.
This experience was going to break me if I did not accept there are some things I can not control or understand. Without knowing what the future held for us, we decided to try again. I got pregnant 2 months after our loss and received the news before my son’s due date. We were tested and are not carriers of Noonan Syndrome and that provided some relief but did not lessen the fear that something could go wrong. The pregnancy was stressful but resulted in a beautiful baby boy that filled my empty arms and helped heal my broken heart.
Life can feel very unfair. It can be painful. It can be cruel. It can shake your world in ways you never thought possible. Life can also give you love. It can give you joy. It can give you laughter and it can be kind. When you are faced with moments that are so painful it hurts to even breathe, trust me when I say you can move on and live again. It does not have to be today and tomorrow may be too soon but it will happen if you give yourself time to process and feel. You deserve to move on but you also deserve to hurt and feel pain. Feel it, acknowledge it and accept that there are experiences that are beyond our control.
How we handle difficult times and pick ourselves up is where our strength comes from.
After our loss, I worked on myself, I sought out help from support groups and allowed myself to cry. As the days went on, I cried a little less and smiled a little more. Moving on makes people feel like the loss was not as significant as it should have been. Did that mean I did not care I lost my baby because I can laugh at a movie? That he was easy to get over because I got pregnant again so quickly? Absolutely not. I miss him every day and will always have a piece of me missing. Choosing to live did not mean I chose to forget and loving him did not mean I had to forget to live. My dream to share my son with the world is not over, it’s different.