Feeling like baking a birthday cake today, because today my son is 24 weeks, meaning in medical terms, he's "viable" outside the womb! It's been a LONG anticipated day for me. He's kicking up a storm too. No front-facing placenta is blocking that out.
Was it the day's significance that made me feel, for the first time, like a weight was lifting off? I felt both yesterday and today like life wasn't so bad. I felt more acceptance of our losses and our unique family. Maybe it's strength and understanding from the families at the Hospice retreat recently. Maybe it's the love and support of friends and family who tell us they think of our kids and respect what we've been through. I think getting Claire's headstone helped give us some closure and peace. I don't know, but, alas, that accepting feeling was fleeting!
This morning I wrote a brief story for a sweet friend who is doing a service project with Laney's Legacy. They are a group that makes boxes for families in the hospital who just lost a baby. We did not get "Lanee's" boxes when we lost Jackson and Claire. They work with a different hospital. But we got a similar style box. We're most grateful.
Writing the story I had to go back to the day I delivered Jackson...the same day we found out he'd died. The MOST racking memory is when my two little kids ran into the room, looking for their new baby. We were so unprepared for this. My dad had recently died, giving my daughter nightmares. My grandmother had passed away about 5 months before. How much could they take? We didn't know what to say or do and I am sure we flopped it up with them. But it's the confusion on my daughter's face that haunts me. It's the memory of her looking about the room trying to understand what was going on. I HATE, HATE the memory. I want to forget. I am so glad it's over, but I wish too that I could block it out. Anyone who knows me knows that is NOT my style, either. I am a facer - not a denier.
So here's the story. It's rough and short. I hope it helps motivate the project. I hope it's of some use.
I have gone to the hospital 4 times to give birth. Each time has been unique, but also the same. Always, we have been blessed with a precious, perfect little child. We hold their little warm bodies close as soon as they are born and cry, touched by the sacred feeling in the room as we experience celestial purity arriving on earth.
The first two times I gave birth, I was able to take those precious little bodies home with me and bring more the the Spirit into our house, changing our lives forever.
The second two times, I had to leave my babies' bodies at the hospital, their spirits already returned to their Heavenly home, my heart and arms empty.
The shock of being told my full term son had no heart beat when we went to deliver him was staggering. I didn't think I could deliver his dead body. It was by grace that I went through the labor and delivery. I still shake or cry when I recall being wheeled out to my car down the same hallway as with my first two babies, this time without my baby in my arms. I didn't know what to do. We had no preparation. We didn't know anyone who had been where we were. Such things still happened in America?
If it had not been for the preparation and sensitivity of the bereavement staff, our tragedy would have been multiplied, for we truly would have left the hospital empty-handed. As it was, they quietly came in our room the day following delivery and presented us with a blue box. Inside were pictures a nurse had taken of my son. There were tiny molds of his hands and feet safely tucked inside. There was a tiny gold ring that had been placed on his finger for the pictures and was now for us to take home as a keepsake. The first outfit he wore was placed inside, along with other mementos that would soon come to sustain us when the emptiness was overbearing.
When my daughter died less than a year after her brother was stillborn, I anticipated getting the box while in the hospital. I eagerly accepted it, knowing how important it would be to my family in the coming year. It still sits in my counter, because I am not ready to put it away. I am grateful someone thought of creating these, and someone made it happen.
For all the pain we have suffered in losing our children, I know that past generations have similarly felt such loss, but theirs was multiplied. Less than thirty years ago, mothers didn't get to hold their baby after delivery, there were no photos taken, there were no memory boxes made and delivered in love.
We cannot stop death in our society, but people like the creators of Laney's Legacy help soothe the grief. Getting a hand made box that reflects thoughtfulness and tenderness makes me feel like there are people out there who mourn with me, who cry with me, and especially, who value the life of the tiny babies who never get a voice in this life. From my family here on earth, and Jackson and Claire and their siblings above, thank you for contributing to Laney's Legacy.