Thursday, April 25, 2013

Changes and reality

One month tomorrow.

I can't even process how much my life has changed in that time.  I was prepared for changes, but not for anything like what's happened.  Going to the store is an ordeal for me.  Spending time with people outside of my family is so emotionally and mentally exhausting to me that I'd honestly rather just not leave the house.

I found a charity online that does free photo retouching for stillborn babies, so I brought the one professional picture we have of Matthew to the place here in town that is affiliated with them.  I really wanted the hospital to call Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to do Matthew's pictures - and I didn't realize until the picture arrived that it was a different service.  NILMDTS specializes in bereavement pictures, and the service that did ours takes pictures of all the babies that are born at that particular hospital.  The picture I got was beautiful, but I would have liked different shots.  Specifically one of me and the Other Half and our son.  It would have been nice to have a family picture when we had the chance.

Anyway, the picture came back yesterday.  I don't know how I feel about it.  It is amazing.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  He looks like an angel.  But in a way, seeing it makes it harder.  Seeing him in that picture was like looking into an alternate reality.  One where my precious boy lived.

I hope that anyone reading this who has children knows how incredibly, amazingly lucky they are.  I hope you appreciate every single tantrum, every messy diaper blow-out, every sleepless night.  Because there are those of us who would take it all in a heartbeat if we could.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Moving forward

   I had a baby 15 days ago.  I can say that, I know it's true.  But sometimes, it really feels like a dream.  Probably because I spent most of my pregnancy waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.  After eight years and two miscarriages, I really thought it would never happen for me.  So pretty much every time I went to the doctor, I honestly expected the doctor wouldn't be able to find a heartbeat.  It surprised me every time I heard it.  Even once my baby got so big that I could watch him moving through my clothes, I still didn't really believe that I was going to get to have a baby.

   But about two weeks before Matthew was born, it started to feel real.  The house was full of baby stuff.  We put together a crib and a stroller and a car seat.  I washed load after load of baby sheets and towels and clothes.  We bought diapers and wipes and a fancy bag to carry them in.  We had a bag packed with one outfit for me, and five outfit options for our little man.  I saw my doctor and had ultrasounds and everything was proceeding on schedule.  I really started to believe that I was finally going to be a mom.

   So when that shoe finally dropped, I was so unprepared.  When the Doppler on my belly didn't find the heartbeat, I couldn't breathe.  When the ultrasound confirmed that my baby was no longer alive, I wanted to die, too.  I felt like a part of my soul had been ripped away.  I was already in labor, so I was allowed to progress toward my eventual delivery.  I labored for about nine hours, pushed for 20 minutes.  I felt the same elation and euphoria that every woman feels once their baby is delivered for about a second, and then the soul-crushing reality sank in.  Some part of me still hoped that there had been a mistake, that I would get to hear that beautiful first cry, but it never came.  My son was dead.

   I brought my infant son home in a four inch square box.  How is that fair?  My son is dead, and Kim Kardashian gets to perpetuate the next generation of exploited Hollywood children.  How is that fair?  Drug addicts and child abusers get to have healthy children, and I don't.  How is that fair?

   The answer is that it isn't fair.  Because life isn't fair.  We are told that all the time, but we always forget.  Life isn't fair.  Bad things happen to good people.  Babies die.  And we have no control over that.  The only thing we can control is how we let these things affect us moving forward.

   My son never took a breath on this earth, but every single pew in the church was occupied at his memorial.  He was loved by so many, even though only a handful of people ever got to see him.  And that love, along with the prayers and well-wishes that accompanied it, is what I can carry forward.  Being angry or bitter won't bring my precious Matthew back.  Nothing will.  And holding on to anger or bitterness will only make me feel worse in the long run.  So I will honor the memory of my son by waking up every morning.  I will allow joy into my heart.  I will laugh when I feel like it, and cry when I feel like it, and I won't feel guilty about either one.  I will miss my son with every fiber of my being, but I will keep moving.  And one sweet day, I will see my beautiful boy again.  And he will be proud of the life I've lived.