Tonight my husband and I were organizing some papers and pulled out our 2 fire proof safes. One of those safes holds most of things that belong to Lauren. Almost everything of our daughters is in one safe that is small enough to carry from one room to the other. We have a whole room that sits empty, aside from her dresser that she never got to use. Inside her dresser are the clothes that she never got to wear. The safe holds her confirmation of birth, birth certificate, hand and foot prints, birth stats sheet, her death certificate, and digit copies of the only photos we will ever have of her. It also holds the isty bitsy hat she wore, the tiny dress she wore, and the itty bity blankets she used. The safe also holds a pink teddy bear. The bear was a gift to us from the perinatal loss office of our hospital. Upon leaving the hospital I held the teddy bear and her hospital papers, foot prints, etc. That’s all. Mommies all around me were being wheeled or walked out to their cars, going home with their babies. I was being wheeled out holding on to a teddy bear. My lap and hand were full, but so empty. A kind of empty that cannot be described. I arms, my head, and my heart were emptied of any happiness. Now her room sits nearly empty. Painting incomplete, dresser half empty, furnishings never bought. It’s just empty. We still call it Lauren’s room. It used to be the guest room, but now it’s Lauren’s room, and it’s empty. My arms ache because they are empty. My heart aches for the empty void her death left. I know that my heart will never be the same. My life will never be the same. My mind and thoughts will never be the same. I miss her so much. I think of her with every breath I take. I think of her constantly. We are forever missing her.
I guess there are a limited number of people who understand how I feel about certain things. And, I guess that’s a good thing, because if you understood it would be you’ve lost a baby as well. So let me try to explain. I cry when I find out a friend is pregnant. I cry when a friend has a baby. I run in the other direction when faced with seeing a baby in public. I avoid certain sections of the store. I don’t enjoy birthday parties. I didn’t enjoy Christmastime as much as I usually do. Maybe you call me bitter because of these new feelings. I call it normal. When someone announces their pregnancy or has a baby OF COURSE I am happy for them. But I’m sad for us. We miss Lauren with every breath. It doesn’t mean I don’t good things to happen to other people, I just know how close we were, how much we want something good to happen to us. I’ve yet to meet any of the babies that my friends have given birth to or adopted since Lauren died. Again, I’m happy for those people, but I simply don’t have the strength to hold or ohh and ahh over someone else’s baby when mine is dead. I can’t walk past the baby section of any store with out flashing back to all the times we shopped there, picking things out for Lauren and trying to decide what product was best. Birthday’s are hard. We don’t get to plan our daughter’s first birthday party, or any birthday for that matter. So going to a child’s birthday party would only be a sad occasion. As hard as we could try to focus on other things, we’d just be reminded that we don’t get to do the same with or for Lauren. The holidays were hard. Our due date with Lauren was on Thanksgiving Day. And while we did/do have plenty to be thankful for, she wasn’t with us. Christmastime was harder. We spent the season watching everyone prepare for the holiday by buying gifts for their children. We also recalled all of the conversations we’d had about what we’d buy Lauren for Christmas and how wonderful it would be to be a family of three last Christmas. We are a family of three, but not how we’d imagined. We also had to deal with our emotions as all of our nieces and our nephew gathered around the tree at my parents house for the annual grand kids photo. It was beautiful as always, but my daughter was supposed to be there, too! So call me bitter if that’s what you think I am. But I call it normal. Grieving, mourning, hurting, missing. I’m sure that it will be different with each passing year. As a friend of a friend said, it doesn’t get easier, just a little less excruciating.
A bereaved parent spends most of their time seeing and wholeheartedly feeling the negative. Which, for those of you who have thought “shouldn’t they be over this by now”, these feelings and actions are completely normal and acceptable! A study found that more bereaved parents didn’t return to a sense of ‘normal’ until around the two year mark. And I hate the word ‘normal’ by the way. No, things will NEVER be normal for us again, we will just adjust to our new lives. So my point in saying all of that was to say that sometimes God sends us things that are positive, things for which to be thankful. And most of the time it’s what some friends of ours, also bereaved parents to three angel babies, call “small victories”. Because they must count! We have to hold on to any positive that comes our way. And I’ll tell you about our small victories. The biggest ones have come to us through the acts of other people. Who are those other people? My amazing parents, Lauren’s nanny and pawpaw. They have done several things that have assured us that Lauren has not been and will not be forgotten by them. Around Christmastime my mom was decorating her tree. Every year she hangs these tiny angels on her tree, each angel displaying the name of a grandchild. After she finished decorating this year she called us to come see her tree. And there, near the top, was one of her little angels with Lauren’s name on it. Also near Christmastime my dad presented us with the most beautiful car window sticker/decals that he had custom made. See the photo. Another beautiful way to honor and memorialize what we lost.
Another thing that means the world to us is the answer my parents give when people ask them how many grand kids they have now. The answer is automatically eight. A number that includes Lauren. So yes, she only lived for 22 minutes, but she matters. And we are s thankful that she will not be forgotten!
How do you measure a parent’s love?
I suppose you could count the number of boo-boo’s they’ve kissed. Maybe it is in the amount of hugs they’ve given. It could be the time spent playing and laughing with their child. Or it might even be in the never ending advice given to their child.
But to some people a parent’s love is measured by the number of tears shed over the loss of their child. The number of hours of sleep lost trying to figure out how this happened to us. The amount of time spent imagining what our daughter would be like. Or in the hours spent looking at the precious few pictures we have of our daughter.
There are many ways to measure a parent’s love.
Written by K. Murray
I feel you Lauren, in the breezes,
the warm sunshine, and in my soul.
I hear you Lauren, in wind chimes,
singing birds, and in my beating heart.
I see you Lauren, in every child,
in your daddy’s eyes, and in my mind.
In these places you will forever be.
Written by K. Murray
If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Raising your children will never be as much work as grieving their death, so count your blessings.
“Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.” W.S. Merwin
How true is this. Every breath I take I am thinking of Lauren and all we lost. As crazy as it may sound, I also think of all we gained. We didn’t have her long but oh the impact she made on us. Our lives and our hearts are forever changed. They way we make decisions, our love for each other, our walk with Christ, all changed for the better. Our perspectives have drastically changed. Things that used to be such a big deal, no longer seem to hold the same weight. That being said, some things that didn’t used to bother us are now significant sources of pain for us. Things as simple as seeing an infant. Finding out a friend is pregnant. Yes, we are happy for those people and would never wish bad things for anyone. But it brings back in a rush all of the emotions we started having on the evening of August 4. We now take it personally when someone makes a comment about their kids driving them crazy, being horribly behaved, or getting on their nerves. Or new moms complaining that they can’t get a good nights sleep. Do you know how much I’d love to have a day in which I was exhausted from being up all night with my crying daughter? Or how I’d love to be faced with the decision of how to discipline our daughter. People take all these things for granted. Being a parent is not a right or a burden, it is a great honor and privilege. All of these changes in us because of the few minutes we were allowed to have with our tiny, beautiful angel. We often say now that we have our very own guardian angel. Protecting and helping us along.
Last night, Wednesday, was the third night in a row for vivid dreams involving a baby. In none of the dreams were the babies Lauren. In the first two nights dreams I was feeding a baby, our baby! Night one was a boy and night two was a girl. I can recall where I was and who was with me. In one of the dreams I was feeding my baby girl and she died, but came back to life. Last night I had a dream that I was pregnant and me and my husband were packing our bags for the hospital when I went into labor. We continued to pack then leaving for the hospital, intent on a natural delivery, which is not possible for me in any future pregnancies. I’m not sure how I feel about these dreams. They are so real, vivid. But I wake up feeling like I’ve been shorted, again. Hopefully they are just a sign of things to come.
Our perfect angel baby
I try to be happy but I’m mad. Let me say, I’m not mad AT anyone or at God. I’m maddened by the situation. I’m mad because my daughter is dead. I’m mad because she didn’t deserve to die. I’m mad because some people accidently get pregnant, abuse their kids, or don’t want their kids, but they are here. I got pregnant by plan, and I want my daughter, but I can’t have her. I’m mad because not only did I lose my daughter, I lost relationships with the people I was closest to. It makes me mad that they are too uncomfortable to be there for me when I need them most. I’m mad because people say mean, horrible things to me. My daughter was ALIVE! She has a birth certificate, an apgar score, and a death certificate. She isn’t some pet that I can bring home and bury in the back yard as one person suggested. Nor is she “better off” because maybe there was “something wrong with her” as many people have suggested. So it’s not easy to be happy. It is hard. But I push through each day, placing one foot in front of the other, relying on God to give me strength only he can. And I pray that one day the ‘mad’ will go away.
On August 4, 2012 I had an emergency c-section at 24 weeks. I had a wonderful pregnancy. Around 22 weeks gestation the doctor told us that our baby girl was measuring a little small. I had several tests done and everything appeared to be fine. The doctor told us that she would probably catch up, and scheduled us for another growth scan 3 weeks out. On Wednesday, August 1, my husband took me to see my midwife. I was feeling like my heart was racing and also having a tough time catching my breath. I was checked out and everything was fine. Baby’s heart rate, my heart rate, my BP, and I had no signs of anything going wrong. By Saturday, August 4, I was feeling horrible. After speaking to my midwife, she recommended that I go into the ER to be checked out. My main symptom was a feeling of not being able to catch my breath. She thought I might be developing a respiratory infection or something of that nature. Upon arriving at the ER, my blood pressure was 160/110. I was shocked to say the least. I had never had any blood pressure issues in my life. I was taken back for observation, given medications to lower my BP and prevent seizures. Soon, I was transferred to the Labor and Delivery department. At this point, the staff was keeping a close eye on our baby, and still, she was very active and her heart rate was perfect. After more medications and more observations, the attempt to lower (or control) my BP was unsuccessful and I was starting to get fluid in my lungs. My doctor told us we had no choice other than to deliver via c-section. We were transferred via ambulance to another campus of our hospital. Our daughter, Lauren, was born at 8:08 PM. The NICU team wasn’t able to do much for her, seeing how she only weighed 12 oz. The head NICU doctor handed our precious, beautiful daughter to my husband. He held her by my head (I was still on the OR table) and we marveled over her beauty. We we amazed how perfectly formed she was, and how she looked like a healthy baby, aside from her small size. She struggled to get air, and moved little. But she was there with us, alive. 22 minutes later, at 8:30 PM, our perfect little angel died in her daddy’s arms.
”There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms.” -Charlotte Bronte