Life After Loss – A Mother’s Perspective
My body made you. My body carried you for those 35 weeks and 4 days. My body created every imperfection and perfection within you. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel guilty, like I failed as a mother. You were so perfect to me, but so imperfect to the world of medicine. So many disabilities. You would have had a very hard life, but your father and I were willing to do what was best for you. Care for you, accommodate for you. In our minds, you were our future. Nothing would change that. Nothing would stop us from making life work with you and your needs.
But God had other plans. As a mother, I struggle with understanding these plans. As a Christian woman, I know not to question God – his plans are best for us. As a mother, my heart feels empty and my days feel off-balanced. I should be breastfeeding my newborn son, not pumping for someone else’s. I should be changing diapers, not washing dishes. I think of these things while being home alone. Even if your baby doesn’t come home with you, you still have a recovery period and you’re unable to work. (A c-section is no joke!) Being home when your oldest child is in school and your husband returns to work gives you a big empty feeling. You try to keep busy by doing laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping..ANYTHING. But you’re still reminded when walking into the office to put something away that your baby isn’t here. This office is where Christian’s nursery should be, not this very computer I’m writing this on now. You find ways to stay strong, to go about life and to accept your baby not being here. This is the new reality. The new normal.
Just when you think you’ve got it together, you’ve learned to live life without that newborn you dreamed of for so many months. Your c-section heals, and you begin to get feeling back in your abdomen, only to have the phantom kicks begin to start. Now you’re faced with realizing, again, that your baby isn’t here. You will never love on that baby, watch him grow, see him with Santa, his first birthday, first Christmas, ect. Every little phantom kick is a reminder from the inside – “He’s Gone.” Gone? Is he really gone? His physical body is no longer with us, but his purpose and spirit certainly are.
I feel Christian every day. When the crying baby at the store smiles at me, I feel like that’s Christian saying, “It’s okay, Mom. I see your pain, but don’t worry. I’m okay.” When I’m missing him on church days and the sermon says exactly what I need to hear to know I’m okay, he’s okay, and everything happens for a reason: It’s God’s will. God’s plan. God’s reason.
Again, I find myself wanting to ask why but I know it’s not the right thing to do. We don’t always understand God’s reasoning. If we did, we would be on the same level as him. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want that responsibility.
I find comfort in knowing Christian is in the arms of Jesus. I find comfort in knowing, my grandmother, Bup, passed shortly before Christian was born. Bup was a very religious woman who loved Jesus more than anything. I know she is with Christian.
Life after loss is a whirlwind of emotions. Sometimes, many, many emotions are felt within one hour. Sometimes, your emotions don’t change at all that day. It’s possible to find happiness in everyday events. It’s difficult, at this point in time, to find happiness all the time. Some days, I cry for no reason. Some days, I cry because I put too much sugar in my coffee. Some days, I find so much peace in knowing my son with so many difficulties isn’t feeling pain or suffering. Some days, I can’t manage to pull myself out of bed. Some days, I accomplish more in one day than I can ever remember accomplishing in a week. Some days, I find myself skipping showers because it’s the only thing I truly have control over, and other days, I find myself taking multiple showers a day, because, again, it’s the only thing I have control over.
I’m unable to take my son with me. I found a website called “Project Bear” that sends free teddy bears to the loved ones of deceased infants. The bear hasn’t left my purse since I received it four days ago. It’s the only way I can take my son everywhere I go. It seems so silly but it’s so comforting. I have yet to remove my NICU bracelet because, again, I feel like Christian is still with me.
Life after loss makes you do things that seem so silly, but they’re so comforting. Finding peace and comfort for self care is so important. If that means carrying a teddy bear in my purse, I’ll do so. If that means taking three showers a day, I’ll do so. If that means neglecting myself for today and being lazy, I’ll do so. It’s so hard to truly take care of yourself, or your older child, when you can’t care for your infant, the one that should be needing you the most right now.
I had a friend visit from out of state and it was so difficult to take her to see Christian. I made the comment while standing at his spot, “It’s so nice to bring you to see my pile of hay.” Being the jokester that I am, I tried to make the situation a little more comfortable by attempting to be humorous. The reality is, I have photos, hand and foot molds, hospital bracelets, and a baby blanket to show off. I don’t have cute smiles, cute outfits, first giggles, ect., to show anyone. I have material things and a pile of hay until Spring is here when I’ll have a patch of grass. This sounds so rude, so terrible, but the truth of the matter is, I cannot share Christian with my friends and family like so many others can share their infants. I can share stories, like how he gripped my finger tightly at two-days-old before his first pneumothorax, and how special it was to me to be able to swab his mouth with a Q-Tip dipped in breast milk. These small things are taken for granted before you’re living a life of infant loss.
Can you tell me how many times your infant opened and closed their eyes in front of you? I can. Five. Christian only opened his eyes five times. He mainly kept them closed since he didn’t like the lights. Can you tell me how many diapers you’ve changed in total on your infant? I can. Seven. Christian only needed a diaper change seven times in his short six days on Earth. If you haven’t lost an infant, you don’t realize how important these things are. I have an almost six-year-old daughter and I did not know then how important these things were. I think back on her days as an infant and I realize there is truly so much that was taken for granted, so much that I actually missed out on because I had no clue it could be so important.
I have been asked a few times since Christian passed if I was okay with So-and-so’s baby. Being around a baby, especially a newborn, is so comforting to me. It’s almost healing to hold a baby and smell that sweet baby smell, or feel that wet baby drool run down my arm. Again, these are things that are taken for granted. I used to roll my eyes and say, “Eww,” when my daughter drooled all over me. But now, I would give almost anything to be covered in baby drool, poop, or vomit right now.
Every day presents a new kind of challenge. While attending a church meeting one night, the group of ladies I was with prayed for a young lady in our church who is currently pregnant and coming close to her due date. I cried because I remembered it was not too long ago that same prayer was being said for me. Another time, we prayed for a pregnancy and I found so much happiness and joy in my heart that a family was getting ready to be blessed with a brand new baby.
Each morning I wake up and lay in bed for a few minutes, and I kind of have a one-way conversation with God. (I really need to get better about letting him speak too.) I tell God I am not ready to face today and I just want a sign that Christian is okay and I will see him again. Some mornings, I tell God I’m not sure why he took Christian, but please give me a sign to tell me and make me comfortable. I don’t get it. I might one day, but I have not sat still long enough to listen to him. I have not been able to clear my head enough to hear him, but I’m working on this. Some days, I wake up and I get up and I conquer the day with no fear and no hesitation. Grief makes you do abnormal things. Grief makes you a different person.
Life after loss is a life I would never wish upon anyone. Life after loss is a new way of living, whether you want to or not. It’s full of anxiety, worry, and intense feelings you did not feel so strongly before. Keeping in step with God, obeying him, and living life according to his word is how I will see my son again. For now, he’s safe in the arms of Jesus, and although that’s not where I want him to be, I find comfort in knowing he feels no pain, no worry, no stress – Nothing but the love of Jesus.
Life After Loss – A Mother’s Perspective