Mommy Minus One

I felt ready to come back to our mommy group today. Honestly, if I didn’t, I would have honored that and stayed home.

It’s important that we, as grieving parents, honor every emotion and every feeling as it comes up. This is a healthy way to mourn, by showing ourselves grace and giving ourselves the space to mourn when we want, the way we want. (Don’t worry. I have plenty of unhealthy grieving habits too.)

I was excited to see my mama friends today. But when I pulled into the parking lot, the weight of our reality hit me so hard.

Wait a minute. I’m supposed to be unloading 5 kids right now. I’m supposed to be wrapping a 2 month old baby Sterling up to my body before heading in.

I wept into a napkin from the glove compartment, as my 3 oldest kids unbuckled their seatbelts and crowded around me.

“I’m sorry, guys” was all that would come out in a whisper. They all laid their hands on me and my oldest and very wise 6 year old, Cadence, rested her head on my shoulder.

“It’s okay to cry about Sterling,” she assured. We sat here for almost 20 minutes, before I pulled myself together and dropped the kids off to their classes.

Then I got to my table and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as I hugged the other mamas.

I’m supposed to be introducing him to my friends today. And instead, I arrive empty handed.

I did end up having a great time. I enjoyed being around friendly, familiar faces.

But loss just hovers over every little thing we do. Life will never be the same for any of us. And as sad as this is, I still wouldn’t change it. I would willingly choose every second of pain, every moment of heartache, every tear that is shed to have Sterling for the 6 days he lived.

Questions.

Today has been a rough one.

Sometimes, I just want to pour out all my feelings, but it’s hard and scary. I don’t know, at this point, what’s too much too share. I don’t want to make anyone sad or come across like I’m fishing for pity. That’s just not my heart, not my intent.

However, I would be doing the baby loss community a disservice if I only shared the beautiful, without the horrible, grief stricken moments. I think of the other baby loss families who have found our story. It wouldn’t be fair if I only shared encouraging words and left out all the heart wrenching, painful moments. That would be isolating.

So here’s where I’m at today- I’m angry. I’m confused. How is this my life? Why did Sterling have a spontaneous mutation that caused his disorder?

Just the shittiest luck. A total freak situation. But why? Why do people have deadly random mutations at all? Why couldn’t the doctors figure it out in time to save him?

I have so many questions that won’t be answered this side of heaven and I’m learning how to be okay with that. But for now, I’m not okay. 

💔

Not All Babies Graduate

Let me tell you, there is nothing more strange and awkward than taking pictures of your baby in the hospital. At least, this was my experience. 

I’m not talking about the adorable milestone and NICU graduate photos. I mean the baby-might-not-make-it-through-the-night, let-me-capture-one-more-moment-while-I-still-can photos.

One moment was more horrifying than the next.  One moment, it would look like things were improving and the next, it would all come crashing down. But with every new phase, we took pictures, even the ones that were hard to take. 

People tend to judge what they don’t understand and to some, it seems odd that we would be taking pictures of or sharing these rough moments. I don’t write this to make anyone feel bad or uncomfortable, but in the hopes that I can help more people understand.

For 5 of the 6 days of my son’s life, he was hooked up to hospital machines and yes, it can be hard to look at. But if you look past the tubes and tape, you’ll see my beautiful baby boy. The hope is that every baby will make it out of the NICU/PICU. For some of us, thats not the case.

As hard as it was to take pictures, I’m so glad we did. This was his life. This is his story.

Go easy on us grieving mamas. We would give anything to be sharing perfectly composed photos of healthy little babies in our homes next to letter boards, but sometimes, that’s not the way the story goes. Sometimes, this is all we have.

Surviving

We’re doing it. We’re surviving. Last week, we started homeschooling again after taking the entire month of December off. Today, Randy went back to work. I won’t lie- I was scared. I was afraid that the steps ahead would be way too hard. Most of the time, moving forward feels completely wrong. Last night, we started feeling peace about the idea of resuming normal life.


Today was a good day. Tears were shed. Difficult questions were asked by little ones who don’t quite grasp the concept of heaven (I mean, do any of us really?). And I barely made it through our morning devotion about prayer and how God is still good even when the answer is no. (Relevant, right?) But today just felt a little lighter.


The past 2 weeks have been the hardest, even worse than our time in the hospital and worse than the week right after Sterling died. I didn’t expect that. For a while, it seemed like every day was worse than the last. We’ve been treading in this space between a dream and a nightmare for so long. And while I know the waves will wash over us again, for now we’ve come up for air.


I know some of you were praying for us today, specifically because Randy went back to work and I want to say thank you.

Kairi and Cadence reading The Invisible String

Due date. Empty womb. Empty arms.

Darling boy, today was your due date.  You surprised us 2 weeks early, even though I specifically asked you not to come that day, since I had a sink full of dishes that I was too tired to wash.  I always wanted a Christmas baby. 

Your daddy and I didn’t think we’d have a 5th, but I said if we had another surprise babe, I’d love to have a December baby.  Boy, were you full of surprises. I can’t help but think about the ‘what ifs’. What if you were still here, alive and well?  You would’ve been 2 weeks old and probably starting to get pretty chubby like your brother did at this age. 

What if I still would’ve been pregnant?  40 weeks pregnant and probably complaining to your dad about how uncomfortable I am, taking for granted my last moments with you safe in my womb.  All of this feels so surreal sometimes.  I keep saying you’re supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be cuddling my little nursling and watching Christmas movies instead of picking out an urn and planning a funeral service for my baby boy. 

But the truth is you fulfilled your purpose here.  Your life was so precious and powerful. You were here for 6 days and you reached more people than I ever could in my entire lifetime.  So rest easy, baby boy, and I’ll see you again when my time comes.

Gone

As much as I wish I could be reporting a miracle, I have devastating news.  Our beautiful Sterling was ushered into heaven last night, while being snuggled in his daddy’s arms. This has been the most excruciating pain we’ve ever felt, but we also feel the Lord’s presence, His hand holding us together, and His strength, peace and comfort. 

Precious Sterling was born with a rare metabolic disorder that shut down his entire little system.  We’ll never understand why we were chosen to walk this road, but we trust in God’s plan for our lives and for Sterling’s little life.  It was short, but impacted many. Thank you for all your support, love and prayers.  We wouldn’t have been able to go through this without you guys by our side and we love you all.


I love you, sweet boy.  I’m so sorry for all the doctors, pricks, pokes, tubes, tests and scans. It killed us to see you that way, but truly, you’re a lucky boy.  You had a fast pass to heaven and now I know you’re at peace. No more pain, just peace.  Daddy and I will be here taking care of your sisters and brother, but we will be thinking about you every second of every day until we go home to be with you.  The Lord sent us an angel for Christmas and although it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done to have to give you back, my son, I wouldn’t change having you for the world.

  Thank you for the 6 days we had with you.  I love being your mama, Sterling.