Your First Bath

Not exactly how I always pictured it would be, but I’ll take it.

You were so swollen because your poor, little kidneys weren’t doing well. And then somehow, something in you started healing because you started peeing. You peed all over your nurse. It was so funny.

This is one of the most bittersweet photos I have in my camera roll. Some days, I see this and it cracks me up. Other days, it kills me.

I remember how much hope we had in this moment and how it all came crashing down a few hours later when we learned you were in a coma. It just depends on how I see the world that day.

Today, its a good day or at least, this moment is a good moment. I wish you were here so I could give you a proper bath, but I’m happy I had the chance to bathe you at all.

I love you, darling Sterling.

Time Doesn’t Heal – 2 months down

“Time heals,” they say. Well, they’re wrong.

I keep waiting to feel a tiny bit better, for time to make it a bit easier. But the further away we get from December, the more it hurts.

62 days since I held you, since I last kissed your face.

Right now, it feels impossible to survive, like I will literally die from a broken heart.

Sometimes, I can wrap these words up in hope. Wrap this grief up in a neat little package and tie it with a bow, with the promise of heaven. I know we’re one day closer to heaven. I get it. And I’m grateful for it.

But there are moments when the darkness swallows me whole and the best I can do is just to feel. To give myself a break from searching for silver linings and just allow myself to hurt. So, I’ll sit here in this grief until I’m ready. And when I am, I will muster up every bit of strength I have and crawl back into the light.

2 months since I kissed you goodbye and I am hurting more than ever.

I love you, sweet boy.

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. 

💔

Magic

Sweet boy,

Last night, I dreamed of you. You were alive.

I remember you being sick but you were alive and well enough to be home with us. Your Mimi (my mom) came over to help me gather up all the kids and take you to a doctor’s appointment.

We were already behind schedule, but I decided to nurse you before we left, even though we would be running a few minutes late. I vividly remember this, almost as if it really happened.

You latched on to the right, while warm breast milk leaked out of the left and ran down my side, soaking my shirt. When you were full, I handed you to Mimi and laughed as I went to change my shirt before running out the door.

And then I woke up.

If this would’ve been real, I would’ve taken this moment for granted. But not having you here makes me appreciate the mundane and sometimes chaotic moments with my living children more than ever before.

Just another gift you’ve left behind, my darling son. Thank you for the ability to see the magic in little every day moments.

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.

Drowning

Dear Sterling,

You died one month ago today. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, but most of the time, I just wonder how we’ve all survived this long without you. 

Time crawls by so slow, it feels like I’ve already lived a lifetime without you.  This moment was one of the most excruciating, but still somehow incredibly peaceful. You were gone.

Your physical body was here with me, but you had already crossed over into paradise. There was no amount of time that would’ve been long enough. I knew no matter how long I chose to spend holding your little body, it would just never be enough.

Even with all the pain this moment brought me, I would give anything to go back to this moment. Even just for a minute, to feel the weight of you on my chest again.

They say grief comes in waves.  Right now, I’m drowning.

I love you, forever and ever.

1 Month old

Darling baby,

You would’ve been 1 month old today. 

💙

  We would’ve been sitting on the couch right now, you asleep on me, probably freshly bathed and nursed. 

I would’ve been composing some sort of 1 month post with all your baby milestones. 

The other kids would be getting ready for bed and coming to kiss you goodnight a hundred times.  They would probably wake you up and make you all cranky and I would laugh because you’re all so adorable. 

I wonder if these thoughts ever stop.  Or will I always wonder what we’d be doing if you were still here? 

It’s only been 25 days and I’m not sure how we’re supposed to do life without you.

Potty Humor

My sweet Sterling,

Oliver told me all about you in heaven.

He told me you’re probably walking and talking up there, which is impressive, considering you’re only a month old.


I asked him what you say and this is what he told me:”He’s hilarious. He makes jokes about poopies.”

And I’ve been laughing about it all day. I know you would’ve been so funny, just like your big brother.

I can’t wait to hear your silly jokes and the beautiful sound of your laughter.

Always missing you, darling boy.

Little Hero

Dear Sterling, 

A piece of my heart went to heaven.  Pieces of yours live on.

Two children each received a heart valve from you and even though we didn’t get the miracle we were looking for, 2 other families will because of you.

Thank you for the gifts you’ve given, my sweet, little hero.  I am so proud of you. I love you.

Blue Christmas

Dear Sterling,

This isn’t how I pictured spending my December.  It’s 2 days before Christmas and instead of reveling in the magic of the newborn stage, we had your funeral.  After you were born, we had one day with you.  One glorious, perfect day before everything changed.  Then we spent the next 5 days in hospitals with you hooked up to monitors and machines, not knowing if you would make it another day. 

Your daddy and I have seen things no parent should have to see.  But here’s the thing, son- we were never alone.  Emmanuel. God with us.  He was with us the entire time and He has given us everything we need to survive this, gifts that only He could provide.

Strength- as we walked through hospital hallways and looked into your doctor’s eyes when the words they spoke were every parent’s worst nightmare. 

Peace- as we watched you take your final breath and slip away from us, into the arms of Jesus. 

Joy- to get out of bed every morning, to carry on for your siblings and create memories with them this holiday season. 

Faith- to know that even when we don’t understand, we can trust in the Lord’s plan and know that He works all things together for good according to His purpose.

 Comfort- in our darkest moments, when the pain is so unbearable, we can physically feel it in our chests and stomachs. 

Love- His tender mercies that have been sprinkled all around us throughout this entire journey, often times through the kindness of others. 

And finally, Hope- the hope we have in Jesus and the promise of heaven. 

This Christmas, in the midst of heartbreak, I still have a reason to celebrate.  This isn’t how I pictured spending my December, with you in heaven on your first Christmas, but still, I rejoice.  I celebrate that baby in the manger, the man on the cross, and the hope we have because of Him. 

Thank you for opening my eyes to this, sweet boy.  This is, perhaps, the greatest gift you’ve given me through your life and death. I will see you again, my darling boy.  I love you forever.