Friday, May 27, 2016

Twelve Months

My Hudson,

We were just shy of 12 hours of labor when you came into the world at 1:47 am. I remember the way my arms shot out for you and I fell in love harder than ever before. You were the most incredible thing I had ever seen and your Daddy and I couldn't get enough of you. Through our deep pain, we couldn't help but marvel at you. You had such long legs and the cutest little pot belly! I couldn't get over the curl in your hair, your precious ears and my favorite, that nose. I rubbed your little feet and toes. I found our matching birthmarks on the bottom of our left foot middle toes. Through the tears, I spent so much time tracing your cheeks with my finger tips thinking maybe, just maybe, he'll wake up.

You were held and loved on by both sets of your grandparents and two of your uncles. You were baptized surrounded by your family in a room filled with love. I watched as your Daddy held you, the way you fit so perfectly in his arms, the way he looked at you, the way he adored you. 

It was 12:26 pm when we said goodbye. After a flood of tears, so many kisses and rubbing our noses together for the last time, I handed you over to a stranger and watched as you were taken away, the door closed behind you, and you were gone. It was the absolute worst moment of my life. I cannot breathe when I think about it and the way my heart shattered even more so than it already had. And now, here we are, one year later. There has not been a single day that has passed that you haven't been on the forefront of my mind. Every single day I've cried for you and said a prayer of bargain just to have one more minute with you again. Every day I wonder what we would be doing if you were here.

I write this between sobs because it's the only way I can. I've sat down to do this so many times but the outcome always ends up that I'm gasping for air, typing through blurred tears. So that's just going to be the way this goes.

It has been a year without you.

A year without looking into your eyes, feeling your skin on mine, seeing your first smiles and comforting you as you cry.

A year without dirty diapers, baths, story time, cuddles, driving around in the car to get you to fall asleep, laughing as you do something new to surprise us.

A year without family memories enriching our lives and wading our way through moments of uncertainty as we tried to raise you as first-time parents.

There is no birthday party to plan. No traditions to create. No gifts to give. There's no smash cake or crib full of balloons. There's no twelve month picture and the chance to look back at each month to see how you've grown and changed.

We've been robbed of this first year with you and all it would entail. We've been robbed of a lifetime with you who you would have been. I miss everything I imagined in my mind with you and everything I never knew to think of. I know this past year with you would not have been perfect. I know that through all the things I've imagined, there are an infinite number of other ways it could have gone. I know this past year would have been challenging, we would have struggled at times, we would have had our difficulties. There would have been frustrations but at the end of the day there would have been so much love and happiness.

My heart hurts but through the pain I can also rejoice because all I would ever want is the absolute best for you. I can take some solace in knowing you never knew disappointment, pain, sadness, or fear. All you knew is love and eternal life. If you can't be here in our arms, I am comforted to know who holds you in Heaven.

Even still, selfishly I wish you were here. I wish we had this year together. I wish we had a lifetime to create as a family. I cherish you and my heart will always ache for you, the boy we should have had.

We will celebrate you through the pain. This day is for you. If you could, send us a little sign today. I need that extra reminder of your presence on a day like this.

Happy birthday son, I love you so much. I'll be watching...



Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Year Ago Today

May 26, 2015
I was running late but it was appointment day. I always took a bump picture on appointment day. This was my last one to take and it occurred on the day that changed me forever.

A year ago today I woke up like any morning.
A year ago today was the last time I knew unafflicted happiness.
A year ago today I found out that he was gone.

Throughout the month of May, I've had some really great days. I've also been struck with deep, painful emotion that has put me right back in that place. Did you know that there is a Bereaved Mother's Day? I didn't. Until this year. Because now I am one. Hudson Month (May) kicked off with Bereaved Mother's Day on May 1. That was followed 7 days later by Mother's Day. Then two weeks of fighting anxiety to reach this week. The week of the biggest first year milestones and all things Hudson.

I haven't slept well the last few weeks thinking about how a year ago I was blissfully unaware of what was to come. Thinking about the before life and what we were doing in the days and weeks leading up to everything falling apart. Thinking about the way our lives have changed, our relationships with others have changed, how we have changed. Mostly, thinking about that little boy and that an entire year of him, with us as a little family, is gone. Instead, I pack in my suitcase the remains we have because it's all I have of my child and before we go, we visit a plaque with his precious name on it. I kiss my hand and place it on the letters of his name. I don't get to hug him, hold him, or look into his eyes to tell him how much I love him. I have stone and ashes.

This morning we board a plane. We escape the haunting reality that it's been one year. Today we go somewhere new and get away from everything. We will be busy if we need it and then have a chance for calm and peace if we want it. On the one hand I'm grateful because it's needed. I love any opportunity for any reason to getaway with my husband, he is my favorite person to see and experience all things with. This past year especially, travel has provided an escape from the day to day that should look different had he been here. On the other hand, I would lock myself in Hudson's room and cry if I could. All day long. All weekend long, surrounded by his things. There is a huge part of me that would find happiness in being able to be that sad because that's where I feel the closest to him sometimes, and that closeness is cathartic. That is the darkness of my grief talking. Though it came with time, I have learned now where to find him in my heart when I'm happy and to let him be my joy, but unless you know grief, you don't understand this. Sometimes you just can't stay in the "happy" and you don't want to find the lost one in the joy. You need to feel the weight and pain of the loss. I don't know how else to explain it.

A year ago today our life was forever altered, it is when our after life started. We became bereaved parents as we learned our child was dead and we were waiting to deliver him knowing it would be to say goodbye. It was the beginning of the heartbreak. Just when we thought we couldn't break any more, a million new pieces would shatter. We've spent a year trying to rebuild and put all the pieces back together. We've now reached the most dreaded milestones that occur and they will happen back to back to back. Today is the day we learned Hudson was gone. Tomorrow is the day we met him and said goodbye. Monday is the day we held his funeral. These are the milestone memories I have with and of my child. These anniversaries make up the last weekend of May, coincidentally, Memorial Day Weekend. The memory of my child who never got to be will always encompass this timeframe.

One of my loss mom's told me that once she reached that one year mark, she felt like she was a survivor. Survival, that's what this year has been. From a year ago today starting at about 10:15 to now. I have survived it. My husband has survived it. We have survived together.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Girl

The first thing I bought for you was this outfit. I had bought the same but in blue for Hudson to come home from the hospital in. While browsing in a store, I saw this and it was the only one left in pink, I knew it was a sign from him as a gift to you. This is your first bible from you special prayer warrior aunties.

Sweet baby,

It's a girl, you're a girl!!!

On April 21, our nurse called to let me know my blood test results came back early and to call her whenever your Daddy and I were together so she could tell us the gender. Just like with Hudson, we couldn't wait, so as soon as I could, I raced over to your Daddy's office and we sat in that same parking garage, in the same parking space I think. She called and said everything looked great, the test results revealed that you were 100% healthy so far and then congratulated us on a little girl.

We were so overjoyed to know that you were healthy and to know you a little bit more. I cried tears of joy but there was a little bit of sadness behind it too. The sadness was not because you are a girl, but it was due to the overwhelming realization of everything we never had with that little boy. To switch my mindset and hopes for a child from all things boy to girl, I was sad that Hudson was never here to experience it with. It's hard for mama because it feels like I'm having to "put him away" which all mamas have to do that at some point, when their babies aren't babies anymore, but it hurts because they are things he never had the chance to grow out of or use.

When I came home, I sat in the nursery knowing it was going to change, that I would need to pack away your brother's things to make room for you. I stood in the closet doorway touching his clothes, feeling the tears form. Then I realized the sizing for the time of year wouldn't work for this baby born in October. That even if you had been a boy, I would be packing these things away regardless - maybe for another baby at another time, maybe for good. Just as the big alligator tears started to fall, I think your brother saw a chance to work in my heart. For our gender reveal with him, we had a sign that people marked on to specify if they thought the baby was a boy or girl. The majority thought girl! I never erased the chalk on that board and my glance was shifted to it. I saw all those tally marks for girl and smiled. My girl. This time, here you are. Now, every time I go into that room, I see more and more how it will be yours and it makes my heart smile.

Oh your Daddy has no idea what's coming does he? Last week he and I had a spontaneous date night. We walked up the street to our favorite little Italian spot and along the way, we saw a father and daughter walking in front of us. She was maybe 3 years old with a head full of blonde curls, holding her Daddy's hand, in a purple tutu skirt, twirling and skipping. Her father was also dressed up and was treating his daughter to a date night, just the two of them. I looked over at your Daddy and he had a little half smile on his face watching. I know in his mind he sees that chance with you some day. You two will be thick as thieves. I know the two of us will have our own relationship but speaking as a daughter, there is such a special force behind the father-daughter relationship. You are so lucky baby, you are going to have one of the best ones there is.

I've been "test driving" a few names for you but there was only one that felt right almost immediately. Just like with your brother, I woke up one day and had a strong feeling that it was the name for this baby. I had been referring to you by this name for two weeks but your Daddy wasn't quite ready, however, he had a trick up his sleeve. Mother's Day was hard for your mama this year so your Daddy tried to make it extra special. He made us breakfast that morning and had a card waiting. I opened to find a sweet message about Hudson watching over me and how you would be here before we know it, signed by Hudson and you, revealing your name. It was the perfect gift and we finalized your name then and there. You will share your brother's initials, you will have that special bond no one can break.

My precious Hadley Jane, I just cannot wait to meet you.

All my love,


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Love You Like I'm Going to Lose You

Written on March 18
7 weeks, 1 day

Sweet Baby,

Today we finally got to see you. I thought I was going to pass out because I was holding my breath until my doctor confirmed that you were there and we saw the flicker of a heartbeat. Your Daddy and I were so relieved and emotionally overwhelmed at the experience. The last few weeks have passed by so slowly due to the anticipation of this day. I've been so anxious to see you for the first time, to know you are really there. Pregnancy after Loss has been such a blessing, but it is also filled with all kinds of doubt and fear of which I know has just begun. My Jesus Calling devotional from today could not speak any greater to my heart.

"Trust me one day at a time. This keeps you close to Me, responsive to My will.
Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded.
My Spirit within you is your resident Tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor.
Yield to His gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting.

Exert your will to me in all circumstances. Don't let your need to understand distract you from my presence. I will equip you to get through this day victoriously as you live in deep dependence on Me. Tomorrow is busy worrying about itself. Don't get tangled up in its worry-webs.
Trust Me one day at a time.

Psalm 84:12; Matthew 6:34

We've made it through the first big benchmark, seeing you for the first time. Every pinch, pull and pang has scared me to where I'm certain I'm going to lose you, but so far so good. Today we know that you are where you need to be until October, we just have to get you through the rest of that time, one day at a time. I can't wait to see you again in two weeks, at that point we should be able to hear the heartbeat, something I know will be a very emotional experience. To be in that position again for the first time since Hudson, and every time after that, will be reliving my nightmare until I hear that thud-thud-thud-thud. I have to have faith that I'll hear it every time.

The Doctor said this pregnancy will be different. Because of my stillbirth, I'm "high risk" now so I will be closely monitored to ensure that everything is okay with you. I will receive extra testing and sonograms that I didn't get to have with your brother. My doctor said from here on out, with any pregnancy, I will never go past the start of full term and she will most likely induce me at 37 or 38 weeks. That means we should be meeting you between October 13 and October 20.

I can't wait to meet you and while I wish I could just fast forward to the day when you'll be in my arms, I vow to try to enjoy every moment of every day with you. We still have a lot of getting to know one another to do until that day comes that we get to meet you. I will cherish it because I don't know how long my time with you will be. None of us know. So the best thing I can do is love you like I'm going to lose you, loving you more every day as though tomorrow is our last.

Prayers and kisses,


Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mother's Heart

For 30 years, every second Sunday in May I celebrated the most special mothers in my life: my mother and my grandmothers. Throughout the years my aunts became mothers and not so long ago, I received a mother-in-law and sisters-in-law who were part of those celebrated. This was the culture I knew my entire life, celebrating these women on a joyous day devoted to mothers.

This year, I am keenly aware of a new culture, a population of women to which this day brings immense pain. Last year, I was 30 weeks pregnant on Mother's Day and my husband celebrated me as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our first baby. We sent our mothers special "grandmother" cards from Hudson. Little did we know that just a few weeks later we would say goodbye to our son and come home empty. Empty arms, empty hearts, empty space in our home, empty. A mother and a father without their child.

Throughout this walk I've been connected to several women who know this emptiness. They too have longed to hold the child they said goodbye to. For some women it is their first child that is gone and they have yet to have another, finding themselves asking, am I still a mother? For other women, they have gone on to have more children, or they have lost their second, third, maybe fourth child and wish for what would have been, filling the hole that now exists within their family. I've met women who have shared their journey through infertility and the desire they have for a baby, whether one of their own or blessed through adoption, is so strong they would do anything to welcome a child into their lives. For those who have not been able to have a pregnancy or sustain one, they wonder if they will ever have a child of their own. These women possess a mother's heart, but are missing a child to mother. In another realm, but still a grieving one, there are women that have lost their own mothers and the inability to be with her here on earth is overwhelmingly painful especially on a day dedicated to mothers. 

This year, Mother's Day stings, it burns, it hurts. My arms miss the weight of the child that should be squirming around in them and I am not alone. For those who have encountered the loss of a child at any stage or age, Mother's Day can be yet another painful reminder to these women of the one who is not here. Am I a mother? Does my child count? Will I ever be a mother? The questions these women ask themselves as society celebrates the women with children. The visible mothers.

On Sunday, I ask you to celebrate all mothers. There are women with children you can't see because they aren't here. Celebrate them because they are still a mother. 

For those with hearts that ache because you've lost a child, you are not alone. I ache with you. Though it is hard and may be painful, if they can't be here to celebrate us, let's celebrate those children who made us mothers. You had to do the hardest thing there is to do in life - say goodbye. Instead of holding them in our arms, we hold them in our hearts.You are doing the best you can to live in a world without them and you are amazing because of it.

For those with children on this earth, love them so much today and every day. You are so lucky to have them and be able to raise them. You are doing an incredible job at it, even when it feels like you aren't. I know there are times that feel impossible, there are growing pains you have as a mother but you are doing the best job you can, which is the best they could ever have.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. May your hearts be filled with love for the child that was, the child that is and the child that will be someday.