A year ago this week, I was given the tragic news that my baby Lucy, well into our second trimester – no longer had a heartbeat. My recollections of the precise moment I lost her, is crystal clear – clouded only by the feelings of shock and utmost despair. I was never going to feel the joy of her gentle kicks again. The utter disappointment of not holding her, or having the opportunity to see her sweet, angelic face – like I was given with Billy as his heart stopped beating while in my arms – quickly brought me to a place of darkness that was all too familiar. I knew this place well, losing both Victoria and William around the same time mid way into my pregnancy only a year prior. I recall the fear I felt knowing that I had to face LD, yet again, telling her in the most gentle way possible, that she is no longer going to meet her little sister, and the agony of hearing from friends and acquaintances, “maybe you should stop trying, maybe you’re just not meant to have another baby.” Unlike other moments in my history – this particular experience is not a blur. I remember everything like it just happened a week ago. A year ago today, my sweet baby Lucy was taken from me as I fell into a deep sleep with tears in my eyes. The emptiness that welcomed me moments later, was a rude awakening of what I had just lost. I have absolutely no idea how 365 days has passed since that dreadful day.
But I am here now. And I’m still going through the motions of grief and loss. Why? Well – you never really stop grieving your baby. In time, it just evolves and transforms into anger, anguish, a deeper sense of emptiness, and eventually sorrow. Sorrow and sadness play-a-tug of war with peace, and soon enough, peace wins. But sadness never leaves.
So, today… I am sad.
But through my tears, I can smile, because in the midst of sadness a very tiny human of 4.5 years, has taught me to do so.
I know with my Little Mama, I have a blessing that outweighs the losses. With every giggle, I heal just a little more. With every conversation (mainly, about Jessie from Toy Story and how darn cool she is), I cry just a little less. With every story we read together (and boy, do we read our share of stories), I have the uncanny ability to escape reality. And with every milestone she experiences, I share an abundance of joy.
But, today… I am hurting.
I have been off my game for the last few months. I am not as present as I used to be or would have hoped to be. I’m 1000% present for my daughter and my husband (at least, they tell me I am), but I’m about 30% present for myself. The priority of maintaining any sense of balance has been wavered. My home is in shambles for the most part, my work has suffered (which explains the lack of posts, and dare I say it – even an outfit-of-the-day won’t fix this), and keeping up with friendships has also been put on the back burner. I am almost certain it’s the grief or at the very least, the insurmountable guilt. The guilt of knowing that once again – I could not bring into the world yet another child, just this past summer.
His name is Charlie. And he was perfect.
My most recent pregnancy with Charlie was filled with hope. However, my maternal instincts were off – as they have been, for 5 of my 6 pregnancies. I knew in my heart of hearts that this little boy was going to thrive. We prayed, we laughed, we ate well, we came together as a family and made sure that we were going to collectively ensure that Charlie was going to be with us, come December 16, 2015.
But similar to my experience with Lucy, on that dreadful day of a routine scan, Charlie was no longer with us. Surrounded by edema, my dear son’s little heart could no longer beat and just like that – he was gone.
As much as I have experienced loss from Victoria, to William, to Lucy – all mysteriously at the halfway point of our pregnancy, to our early miscarriage in January at 10 weeks, and now Charlie at the beginning of our second trimester – this was the moment where I hit my breaking point. I am not ashamed to say that I made all attempts in the last couple of years, to move through my grief as quickly as possible by replacing it with a new pregnancy – because whether this was intentional or not, it is what actually happened… However, this time – I felt like I had hit a wall in our attempts. Was God trying to tell me something? Is this what I’m destined to experience? Have I become that woman that just loses babies?
It’s been 1 year since losing Lucy, over 2 years since losing Victoria and William, less than a year losing our sweet baby who was too young for us to determine their gender, and only 4 months since losing our darling Charlie – and I feel broken. And only after all these losses, have I come to terms with the fact that I also lost what could have been Little Mama‘s twin 4.5 years ago. Had she survived, I probably would not have known the extent of pain and loss that I am so well versed in today. We would have most likely stopped our attempts there, and would have been one of the many successful stories of pregnancy that knew nothing of sub fertility. And that realization has broken my heart into a million pieces.
But I am still here. I am still able to read books with my Little Mama, laugh at her silly antics, make her meals so she can fill her sweet little belly, bring her to school so she can play with her friends, and of course help her get dressed in the morning (because when that day comes she no longer needs my assistance in the fashion department – you know that will also be a challenging day for mommy…). But in all seriousness, I have not fully moved on with my grief as it has only been a few months since my most recent experience of loss – but I have chosen to move with my grief (a beautiful take on surviving grief without ever really moving away from it – from a very wise friend who has gone through loss himself).
Part of moving on was finding the strength to say goodbye to our little Charlie just this past week, as we held a memorial prayer service in his honor, officiated by our priest that knows us and our losses all too well.
Little Mama brought a dose of sunshine as she embraced her little brother with tenderness and big sisterly love.
The next day, I was inspired to do something a little different from all the other times. I believe my sweet Lucy whose life I honor in particular today, and the decision to no longer replace my grief with an immediate pregnancy, after losing Charlie this past summer – gave me the strength. I chose to move their spirit houses off our fireplace mantel to their new home at the highest point of the cemetery where a beautiful and lush garden resides. This space is specifically reserved for the the most innocent of souls.
I was ready to let them be free.
A place we can visit as often as we need to find solace and comfort in knowing we are a family with 6 more children, never forgotten.
At home, I now place this beautiful tribute to my 6 children who I have lost but continue to love.
And this sweet little set of twins will also stay on our mantel to remind us that LD never walks alone as her little womb-mate will always be right by her side.
I found it especially comforting (and remarkably fitting) to see that one of our sweet babies has a pair of delicate wings.
Now that my 5 other babies who we have loved and lost are in their new home at the cemetery gardens now, I decided to take one last photo before leaving the grounds. To my joy and amazement, this photo gave me the comfort and peace knowing that Lucy and all my children knew of my love. There was a beautiful glow that shone on Lucy‘s spirit house one year to the day we lost her. It was like she was telling me – “thank you for honoring me today, mommy. I hear you, and I know you love me. And I love you too. We all do.”
Grief will always be with me because the babies I have lost, will always be a part of my very being.
I AM a mother of 7 children…
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