This past year, my husband and I spent almost every day thinking about our son and preparing for his arrival. We were so excited to meet him. While I had minor issues during pregnancy, there was no reason to assume that he would be anything other than a picture perfect, healthy baby boy.
At 36 weeks, my water broke. When we finally went to the hospital, it didn’t seem real. We arrived in triage and the nurse tried to find the heartbeat. She couldn’t find it and said the baby was probably facing the wrong way. But I knew he wasn’t.
It seemed like seconds later the room was full of nurses and the OB. Everyone was working on my stomach, but nobody was speaking. One of the nurses had tears in her eyes. I knew something was wrong. I was screaming and crying, begging for someone to say something. Why aren’t they saying anything? But once I heard their words I wished I never had.
The heartbeat was gone. Like a flash I was wheeled into another room. Grief counselors came. Doctors came. Midwives came. What were they saying? I couldn’t hear any words. I was spinning. My husband somehow gathered our families. I was still spinning. They said that decisions had to be made. What were they talking about? I couldn’t hear anyone. They said that I had to deliver, but that they could slow things down or speed them up as much as I wanted. If we got going and I wasn’t ready, we could stop. I wanted things to move forward as quickly as possible. I begged for a C-section. Why would they make me go through this when we already knew the outcome? They said that a natural delivery was best and I was in no position to think or argue with anyone.
So 24 hours of labor began. My platelets were too low to get an epidural—something that I was prepared for my whole pregnancy but that seemed like a cruel joke now. I kept thinking he was going to come out crying and everything would be fine. I think I had to tell myself that in order to get through it. But he didn’t. He came out with the cord wrapped around his perfect head and body so tightly that he couldn’t be untangled. His face is still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
People kept asking for decisions, but I didn’t even know where I was sometimes. How could I make a decision? I was trapped in a nightmare waiting to wake up. Our amazing families made all of the arrangements. They named my son Elijah, because he was born an angel.
Everyone kept saying how strong I was. I just remember thinking, is there another choice? Because I would like to not have to be so strong.
I also remember thinking that our lives were ruined forever. Nothing will ever be the same. The truth is that life will never be the same. But we will find a new normal and we will go on. We will never forget our beautiful angel baby, but we will have moments of joy ahead of us and we will cherish his memory as we move forward.
I may not have gotten to share his life with him, but I did get to share the love that only a mother can know. I will love and miss my son every day for the rest of my life.
It is difficult to find meaning when such a tiny, helpless being is taken way too soon. But I have learned a few lessons, as I’m sure I will continue to learn from my son for the rest of my life. From this journey I have learned what truly matters. Stretch marks don’t matter. Life matters. And for that reason we must go on. Love matters. And for that reason we must cherish those we love. We must forgive their faults and hold them up when they need strength as so many people have done for me.
I have seen the strength of my wonderful husband. While I always knew how special he was, I see how much I need him now. I’ve learned it’s OK to lean on those you love. It’s OK to accept help. Our loss is unimaginable. It is heartbreaking and it is forever. But there is nobody that I would rather share my life with than my husband. While I wish we didn’t have to walk this difficult path, there is nobody that I would rather walk beside. I see my beautiful son in his face and I know that we can get through anything if we do it together.