(PC: Lydia Jane)
Infant death and loss is a club no one wants to be a part of. And sadly, I've joined it and met other moms who are a part of it, many through sharing my story here. I wish I could hug everyone who's left a comment. There's a comfort in being understood, in sharing a path, and in knowing you aren't alone. It's healing in a way to see others go before you and experience a loss like this and really see that it does get better even if it sucks so bad right now.
Before we lost Bobby, I probably would have trivialized a loss like ours. Thought of it as hard, sad, but maybe not life changing. I would have even felt feelings of sadness but I might have even looked at it and thought things like:
"Its not like they ever knew their baby outside the womb."
"It's not really like having one of your children die since they passed while in utero."
Sadly, I might have even thought it silly that any parent would even bury their child at the time we lost Bobby. But when he was born, when I would have been 21 weeks, he had:
Ten fingers and ten toes.
Two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth.
Two arms and two legs.
The cutest little bum.
Plump kissable cheeks.
And the sweetest lips that had me lost from the moment I saw them.
He was very much a formed, tiny little person. A perfect 8.5 ounces.
Having lived through this hell, let me tell you. It's awful. And while I imagine knowing and experiencing a child alive and in the flesh would bring different and deeper feelings of loss, this is terrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy and if I could make all the pain of this go away I would. I shared that quote at the start of this post to make that point. The loss of a child at any point in their God given and created life, simply is a loss, and grief comes with that.
Bonding within pregnancy comes in different forms and at different stages. The amount you are attached and the amount they are loved only grows as they grow. Think of it when your child is born and how your love for them deepens as they live their earthly life. For me, those feelings of love start from the time I see those often surreal double lines. Come first trimester, the morning sickness (or all day sickness in my case) happens, you know what keeps me sane and pushing through: the finish line at the end. The ultimate prize: holding that baby and seeing all your hard work come to fruition in this precious life being laid on your chest. Hearing their first cry and watching them breathe their first breath of earth's air. It's the most beautiful, amazing experience and for me it keeps me from losing it when I just feel terrible.
Fast forward a few weeks to finding out (if you find out) if it's a boy or a girl. I have to say, I am one of those Moms that truly bonds when I know what I'm having. I remember it with my girls. Even though we didn't pick names, knowing what they were and knowing who was being added to our family, it was at that point that I was a goner for them. Totally done. Even deeper love. With Bobby, the boy thing was a total surprise. I really thought, "well, we just make girls" but he threw a beautiful wrench in the works.
I'll be honest, I struggled with the idea of having a boy. I think I secretly hoped for another girl and though I wasn't opposed, I wasn't all in excited. It took a few days and lots of shopping trips to get there. Some might call it superficial, but for me, I grew more attached to him with each piece of clothing I added to his closet. I had pictures in my mind of dressing him in every piece. Chubby thighs, kissable cheeks and all. By the time he was born last week, his closet was bursting and so was my heart for him. Oh my goodness, I loved that boy, without doubt and without hesitation. I hope he knows how much. He was so wanted by his Mommy and just as much by his Daddy.
The day we found out, the clothes got packed away. It was the first thing that I knew had to go. Some might be comforted by keeping clothes around, but for me, each item packed away was a dream surrendered of a life with him that we never got to have and the sadness that filled its space, there wasn't words for it. Those will always be Bobby's clothes to me.
As a brief side note, I'm grateful for good friends who drop everything to be there for you in moments like that. Who get into your real life and do the dirty work. I didn't pack up those clothes. I don't think I ever could, but I can't say "thanks" enough to the friends who did. His clothes sit in a basement now, not in our house, waiting for the day when I will have the courage to open them, but for now I grieve.
Life matters. Bobby's life matters. And every parent who has ever lost a child, regardless of at what stage in life matters too. These small lives should be remembered and not forgotten, celebrated and not overlooked, cherished and not ignored. God has something for us to learn through each of their stories, because He made them. Bobby's story is still unfolding before our eyes and in many ways parts of it have yet to be told. I grieve for the short life he had, that matters so much to me and so much to many. He was and is a very loved little boy.
A few days after Bobby was buried a friend of a friend shared this with me:
"We feel great sadness because we knew great love, regardless of the amount of time we were given."
I can't think of a better way to articulate our feelings.