With grief, there comes a time when the world seems to have returned to “normal”, but for you, there is no normal anymore. I have learned that after enough time has passed, there are moments that seem to get harder instead of easier. And this is true for the many people I know suffering the loss of a child.
I am choosing to courageously stand in my truth and reality. Freely showing the tears streaming down my face. I will not hide these tears. Shedding tears, does not mean that I only feel sorrow. Because I shed tears does not mean that I am weak. It does not mean that I am stuck nor unable to “move on”. I shed tears, because I am a mother unable to hold her son, the way she does her other.
But if you look closely, underneath the river that flows from my eyes, you will see that there is a warm smile too. An expression of grace and gratitude of the goodness of all things.
In truth, this loss has made me stronger. It has been a teacher of so many things. As I was pulled to the brink of despair and completely shattered, the truth of this world so brightly revealed itself as the false façade began to crumble away.
Amongst the various broken pieces – the many cracks and jaggedly sharp edges – light still shined through. And what a light! A light so bright, it’s almost blinding from the pureness of love dancing joyfully off of the many splintered fractures.
This light pulled me up. This light encouraged me to stand. This light holds me and guides me, and it has given me a voice. A voice to speak for myself, for my son, and for so many others that suffer in silence and alone.
It is this moment that I share part of my journey with Bo and what I have been observing as these darker days set in. While I persevere to begin each day a new, I cannot deny nor ignore the suffocating heaviness setting upon me.
For today marks the day that began the unexpected shift in my pregnancy with Bo, and along with it, the eight weeks of much worry, hope, and eager awaiting for the arrival of him. The end of those 8 weeks, found me standing at the edge of hell – launched into every parents’ worst nightmare, our beloved son leaving this earth all too soon.
On this day last year, I was enjoying a most spectacularly beautiful and warm day at the beach with my son Cody who was 6 1/2 at the time. We had a great time tide pooling, splashing in the water, and visiting with friends. I felt great and was cherishing these last special moments of it just being Cody and I.
We left the beach to begin walking to the car when suddenly I felt wetness and knew immediately something was wrong. There was no pain, I knew I hadn’t broken my water, so I knew the wetness could mean only one thing – that I was bleeding.
Cody and I drove straight to the hospital, calling my husband and midwife to meet us there. I arrived still feeling physically fine, but quite worried and trying to stay calm. I kept assuring Cody that everything was going to be all right.
I was having contractions which caused worry to the medical staff of an early labor, but they subsided and Bo decided to stay in. The bleeding stopped sometime during the night and never returned until the frightful morning of Bo’s birth.
They kept me in the hospital for five days – with constant fetal monitoring and repeating ultra sound after ultra sound to look for the source of bleeding that was never found. Between not having any continued external bleeding and my blood clotting markers stabilizing, they found it safe for me to go home, but put me on bed rest as a precaution to avoid early labor.
I came home Thanksgiving Day afternoon. We were supposed to be with our family that lives out of town, and now we were alone. Graciously, friends brought over some side dishes and a pie, but there was no turkey nor any resemblance of a normal holiday.
A couple weeks later, Cody started to get sick with what appeared to be mild cold. It gradually got worse to where I understood that something was just not right. Cody had never been sick before like this and every fiber in my being knew something was wrong. Christmas Eve found the two of us sitting in the emergency room at the hospital – I was in agony watching him suffer and at the same time carrying the worry of how this might affect me during the final days of pregnancy and Bo when he was born. Cody was first diagnosed with pneumonia, but two days later after not responding to antibiotics, we found ourselves back at the emergency room.
He was so sick, he doesn’t even remember Christmas day that was in between the two trips to the hospital. They had no answers for us, so the next day we went to his pediatrician’s office which was now open from the holidays. Turns out he had a severe bronchial infection that was also causing asthmatic symptoms. A change of antibiotics and inhalers and we were close to complete wellness. They changed yet again his inhaler medication on the day of Bo’s service. While he was doing much better, he was still struggling with breathing, so literally right after Bo’s funeral service – my husband and sister in law took him back to the pediatrician to get different medication.
Those eight weeks were hard. So, so hard. I was at the hospital twice a week for non-stress tests and navigating how to care for my son and business while being on bed rest. This whole time we kept vigil, waiting and waiting for the arrival of Bo. We missed both holidays with family. We watched over Cody, often awake much of the night with him and sleeping on his bedroom floor. My husband and I would simply say to each other, “It’s ok. When Bo comes, it will be the best and only Christmas present our family needs. Everything will be alright once he’s here.”
And during this time, Bo was doing great!!! Not once while at home or during a stress test at the hospital, was there any concern over Bo. His heart rate was always strong, his activity inside my belly active and frequent, and I was taking good care of myself. He was due Jan 8th, so right before Christmas they lessened my bed rest restrictions to allow for walking and gentle movement to encourage labor to set in on its own. From New Year’s Eve onward, I could sense my body preparing to bring Bo into this world. We could not wait to meet this little boy.
In the early morning hours of Jan 17th, contractions of early labor finally came. They were steady and consistently eight minutes apart. I checked in with my midwife and doula, checked in with the labor and delivery unit at the hospital; Bo’s process of arrival had finally begun.
I went for a walk that morning on the beach with my family, searching for abalone shells as we frequently do. I labored quietly in my room with my selected music and essential oils, taking small naps in between. I ate to keep my body fueled with energy to prepare for more active labor and birth. I even sat through contractions on my pregnancy ball in the living room watching a football game with my father in law.
I checked in frequently with my care team throughout the day. And that night, with labor still steady and consistent - contractions 8 minutes apart – I went to bed to rest and be ready.
I felt my baby boy throughout the whole day. I felt him each time I awoke that night. Then at 4:03 am, a strong contraction jolted me awake. I rolled from one side to the other as immediately another strong contraction hit.
I got up to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden began to bleed profusely. I called my midwife, threw a sweatshirt and UGG boots on, and off we went racing to the hospital.
It was dark. Very dark.
It was pouring rain. The drops so loud and deafening like thunder.
My contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart.
We drove very fast, arriving to the hospital in 17 minutes. I was bleeding so much. They were working fast to locate Bo’s heart beat and it immediately became clear that something was very, very wrong.
It was only SECONDS that they had me going into surgery. General anesthesia– no time for local.
I thought I was dying, never thought for a moment it would be my son. I kept screaming, asking if we were going to be okay - never once receiving a reply. The rapid chatter and movement in the room told me that somebody was dying.
My last memory of thought before going unconscious was my prayer,
“God, please take care of my boys.”
I awoke to tremendously sad faces. Faces that showed me my first glimpse of hell.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO!
This couldn’t be my Bo!
They asked if I wanted to see him and then brought him to me; placing his small body in my arms. My sweet angel, my beautiful, sweet and perfect boy. He looked as if he was just sleeping.
They never found anything wrong with Bo.
They never found anything wrong with me.
Just one of those terrible, horrible things, they say.
Please understand that it’s not just that day that we said good-bye to Bo; the 18th day of January.
But EVERY. SINGLE. DAY, I have to say good bye all over again.
Every day, I will awake with him not here.
He will not be with us this Thanksgiving, nor any.
He will never see a present from Santa under the tree.
We will never see him take his first steps.
Never hear his giggles or see the twinkle in his eyes.
He will never be taught to fish, the way his big brother had hoped to do.
We will miss him every day, for the REST OF OUR LIVES.
If you have read this far, my purpose in writing is to share not just my reality, but the reality of so many others.
For so many of us, after enough time passes, our initial support of people begins to fall away. It’s not their fault. It’s not their reality and so as times passes, their pain lessens. As time passes, people begin to think you are okay. They think you have returned to “normal”.
But for us, this never goes away. For all grieving parents, the holidays spotlight what is so painfully missing.
I write this to ask of you to not forget me.
To not forget Bo.
To not forget anyone in your life that you know is grieving a devastating loss.
To keep us all in prayer.
Anything to reach out, to uplift, to nurture and support is appreciated by those who are grieving.
While it may seem so, it is not easy for me to be so open and personal. Especially as some of you reading this I may not even personally know.
But I will not hide my grief. I will not hide my sorrow. For it is just as much there as any happiness that I may have too. And I hope that my sharing can help others understand.
People who grieve don’t need to “move on”. They only want the memory of their loved ones to not be forgotten.
Stand with them.
Pray for them.
The light of grief has much to teach us all.