The Beauty of A Life.
On Wednesday, we went to visit Bobby. We stopped at Butlers Orchard so the girls could pick fresh flowers from their fields to take to him. It's one of my favorite things to do with them and even Edy, who's 2 1/2, knows "we go pick flowers for Bobby" and excitedly chooses every flower with care. We drove down to the market to pay and the girl checking me out commented on my bracelet I wear in memory of Bobby (I purchased it off of Etsy from a Mommy I had met through Instagram and I love it). The cashier commented on how much she liked it and I looked down forgetting I had chosen to wear it and fumbled with my words. I got a slow "thanks" out but didn't know what to say beyond that. Everything inside of me wanted to speak his name. To tell her about Bobby and why I wear it in memory of him. But I didn't. For a moment I felt stupid even wanting to talk of him. She had no idea what those flowers were for or why I wore that bracelet and I wish I had more courage to speak of the why behind it.
A part of grief that I have had to overcome is fighting the lie that Bobby isn't seen as a life to begin with. I can feel awkward in those moments, like the one at checkout, especially when we live in a culture and political environment that results in heated debates about what life even is and when it begins. Not every one shares the same sentiments or convictions. This is a post that has weighed heavy on my heart. I've been hesitant to even share my thoughts and feelings on this side of my experience because I do not want to make my child's death a political issue or create a context that puts his life up for debate. I'm sharing my heart, because I'm Bobby's momma and I'm sharing to remember him because I believe every life, regardless of at what stage, matters.
Bobby was born when I would have been 21 weeks, what is medically considered an "unviable" stage, but he was an externally fully formed little boy and perfectly complete in ways I never expected. He was beautiful. I marveled while I wept and held his lifeless body in my arms. Before I knew he had died I felt him move, I knew him as a him, he knew the sound of my voice. Giving birth to a child that never cried or breathed their first breath and going home without a baby in my arms brings a diverse experience of grief and a feeling of loss.
The way our nurse treated us the day he was born made me feel like he wasn't a life. She was absent. Aloof. Neglectful. Disconnected. Uncaring. After he was born I was left sitting in my own blood and had to clean myself up. Ill never forget leaving bloody footprints on the floor on my way to the bathroom and having Seth catch me as I slipped in it while he held our lifeless boy in his arms, trying to calm me down while a string of profanities came rolling out my mouth. I couldn't believe what was happening and on such a day as this. He tried to comfort me and help me, but it was beyond anything I could ever comprehend. Our midwife changed the sheets and I assumed our nurse was busy, but I was her only patient. She just didn't want to deal with it. She never wrote up a crib card for him, wrapped him in a blanket, bathed him, offered to dress him, took hospital photos, and she never measured his length. I had to ask for his footprints twice and when she finally did it she told me she "would try her best but she might not be able to." We put him in her arms to do the footprints and she brought him back, covered in blankets, in a decorative box. In the moment I never knew what was happening was so wrong. It didn't feel right, but in my loss I couldn't process how awful it was until after the fact and sadly, these are just a few examples. The grief that she has added to our loss of Bobby is immense.
I won't allow someone's mistreatment of me and our son to shame me into silence. It only makes me want to raise my voice louder for those who have no voice. The truth is, that's easier to put in writing than to live out personally, but I'm trying. Bobby's story is much more than me sharing my grief. I share his story because life matters and a life such as Bobby's should be treated with dignity and respect. It's the very reason we buried him. It's why we speak his name and it's why I miss him every day. He was a life and it was lost.
I have always believed life matters at every stage, a child in utero is not a mass of cells. It is a child uniquely created by God to live the number of days He has ordained for them. Anyone making a "choice" about these things, at the very least, should understand that it's a heart beating, a living and moving being that is nourished, kept and protected inside their Mommy. When my son died, he died in the safety of my womb, with the comfort of my voice and the sound of my heart beating.
Experiencing the beauty of God's creation at this stage has only made me marvel more at the miracle that life is. As I said before, I have always believed in the sanctity of it, but having the opportunity to hold Bobby, at 21 weeks, to see his beautifully formed body, was a gift. The loss of his life was a tragedy, but I realized, what I held to be true wasn't just true as a vague conviction that I stood on and defended, it was a tangible experience of what I have always believed.
Bobby and his life will always be a part of our story and our family. He will always be spoken of in our home. He will always be celebrated on his birthday. His sisters will always know of him as their brother. I pray so much that God would do great things from these ashes and the story of his short life. That people's minds would be opened to the beauty of life that is set before us and the precious gift it is.