As you may or may not know, one of our very own has gone through pregnancy loss. Here is her story. Feel free to share <3
It was Monday, December 19th, 2016. At any moment, my husband (Ed) and I would welcome our first child into this world. It was going to be a celebratory time that we had been anticipating for the past 40 weeks of my pregnancy. However, our story didn’t end the way we thought it would. On that particular day, Ed and I found out two things –
1. Our precious little baby was a boy and…
2. His heart had stopped beating
We were in the hospital as the doctor and ultrasound technician confirmed all of this information. In that very moment, our world came crashing down. Rather than the tears of joy I thought this day would bring, it was tears of sadness as we mourned the death of our son, Zayden. I was admitted to the hospital and spent the next couple of days preparing for the inevitable. I would have to deliver our precious child. The only difference was, he wouldn’t come home with us.
On December 21st at 10:52 PM, I delivered Zayden. Myself, Ed and our families got the opportunity to hold him. In all of my life, there has never been a moment when I wanted time to stop…until the nurse placed our son in my arms. It was on that day that we said “hello” and “goodbye” to the most perfect, curly brown haired baby boy we had ever laid our eyes on.
During my time in the hospital, everyone kept telling me how strong I was. Yet, deep down inside, I was at my lowest, darkest point. I was in shock. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was broken. But above all, I felt at fault. For the past 9 months, my body was Zayden’s “home” and safe place. For anyone who is a parent, you know that all you ever want to do is protect your child from all harm, but in this particular tragedy, I couldn’t save our baby. There was nothing that myself or anyone could do to change the situation. I felt absolutely useless, and all I could think about was how I failed at protecting Zayden’s life. I repeatedly asked myself, “…what did I do wrong?!”
Others who have gone through pregnancy/infant loss have reached out to me, and they’ve reassured me that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. At first, I found no sense in that. How is it possible for a parent to loose a child and somehow feel “at ease” with it? How are my husband and I ever going to find peace in Zayden’s death? Today, as I sit here and write this, I’m finding that the comforting words of those who gave it were, in fact, right. As the days go by, I can confidently say that the pain really does seem to lessen, but it most certainly doesn’t go away. It never will. Everyone experiences grief and loss differently. For some, keeping their feelings to themselves is a way to go through their bereavement. While others find solace in talking to immediate family. For me, I’ve come to find that telling Zayden’s story to anyone and everyone that will listen is what gets me through the days…hours…minutes…seconds.
This photograph is another way I wanted to share our family’s grieving process…
It was our last day at the hospital when the NICU nurses gave Ed and I a “memory box” filled with Zayden’s things. On the lid it says “I love you to the moon…and back again”. When the time came for us to decide how Zayden’s ashes would be guarded, it was without a doubt that we selected the moon that’s shown in this photo. The moment Ed and I saw it, we knew it was the perfect safe grounds for our son. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet I can’t even begin to describe how much that phrase truly means to Ed and I during this time in our lives. Not only will this image be a constant reminder of our first child, but it’s also the only portrait we will ever have as a family of 3.
Ignorantly, I always thought that once the first trimester of pregnancy was complete, nothing could go wrong. I wish I would have known something like this could happen. I almost feel that if I knew about stillbirth, there may have been something I could have done differently to avoid it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Stillbirth is something that happens more often than we think, and I want people to know that what happened to Zayden was no fault of my own or any doctor. Stillbirth is defined as “fetal death at or after 20 to 28 weeks of pregnancy”, and according to the National Stillbirth Society, 1 in 160 pregnancies throughout the United States result in stillbirths. That’s a staggering 26,000 cases per year. While there are tests and autopsy that can determine the cause of death, 1/3rd of all stillborn cases will never know the definite reason. Sadly, Ed and I are amongst that group.
After losing Zayden, I felt alone in the world – as if my husband and I were the only parents to have ever gone through this. I’ve come to realize that’s not true.
To anyone who is reading this and has experienced pregnancy loss, you must remember that you are not alone. Yes, you may be surrounded by family and friends who are willing to lend an open ear, but it’s comforting to speak with those who understand exactly what you are going through. If you are struggling with your grieving process, I want you to know that you are allowed to feel whatever emotions you have. You might question God. You might feel guilty. You might even want to stop whatever it is you’re doing and just scream at the top of your lungs to release all of your built up anger. However you are dealing with your loss, you must know that it’s OK. While I may not be a therapist or grief counselor, I am someone who has experienced this ugly reality and I am willing to help anyone anyway that I can! Let’s face it, our life is different now. There will never be a day that goes by that we won’t think of our child(ren), have that uncontrollable sobbing rush over us for whatever reason, or constantly ponder what “could have been”. Remember, the grieving process is exactly that – a process. It takes patience, time and care to get through each day. Don’t rush things and don’t let others expect things of you. Right now, you might feel less than strong. Just keep in mind that you wake up every day and deal with your loss the best way YOU know how. That, in and of itself, takes strength! I just hope that this post brings comfort and strength back into your heart. Even if it’s just a little bit.
I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people who went above and beyond for Ed and I. To Gardner Funeral Home, we sincerely appreciate you taking the utmost care of our sweet little boy. To Virtua Hospital, the impeccable service and care that you provide is without a doubt the best, and we couldn’t imagine being in the care of any other hospital. To the entire NICU staff, there aren’t enough words to describe how wonderful you all are, and the fact that you do your job with so much compassion leads me to believe that you are all truly special individuals. Finally, to my doctors and the entire staff at OB-GYN Care of Southern NJ, you’ve lent a shoulder to cry on when we needed it the most, and the fact that you go the extra mile for ALL of your patients shows that you are, without a doubt, true professionals. More importantly, it proves that you are caring human beings.
I thank my lucky stars to be surrounded by the most amazing families and friends who have been with Ed and I every step of the way. We want you to know that you have helped lift us up during our darkest days, ultimately allowing us to see the brighter days ahead. While Zayden didn’t get the chance to spend time on Earth, I know he’s become our guardian angel instead. He will forever be our son and we will forever be his mom and dad.
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it – this will not be the end for Ed and I. They say that “after every storm, there is a rainbow”, and I can’t wait until these dark clouds break so that we can continue to grow our little family.
xo ~ Lindsey