Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on the posts from last year's event, you can find them HERE. The posts from this year are HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3. 

~ ~ ~
Day Two, 
by Lori Ennis

I will not lie.
This is a hard, hard time of the year.
My first child, my son Matthew, was born on November 28, 2009. We’d spent 10.5 years trying to become parents, and after a few failed adoption and low-invasive fertility treatment failures, we finally were able to conceive on our first attempt with IVF.
We all thought the hard part was over. I had a wonderful pregnancy, and really, felt invincible. 
I felt like we’d beaten our dragon, and I’d be one of those women who will tell you, “It was such a hard journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing. In the end, it was so worth this precious little boy.”
I’d change things. Without question, I’d change things.
I was induced at 40w5d. I was beginning to show signs of pre-ecclampsia, and my doctors brought me in mainly because I was so swollen and in some significant pain. I’d been scheduled for induction a few days later anyway, but the hospital was supposed to be a bit more quiet that night, after Thanksgiving, and so we excitedly went.
After a day of labor with no real progress, I was going to be prepped for a c-section. Instead, after my doctor broke my water in a last ditch effort to get labor going, I was hastily wheeled into the OR and an emergency c-section was completed in 6 minutes. Six minutes that changed my world.
I had a condition called vasa previa, and Matthew and I both lost a lot of blood. He lost too much. He was life-flighted to Georgetown Hospital, where he died, nine hours after he was born. My husband held him as he died, and I am grateful that at least one of us did.
Needless to say, our world was crushed. We, as well as pretty much every person we knew, were shocked and stunned.
The hard part was supposed to be getting pregnant.
Not figuring out how to breathe. How to get into my car, with a fully-stocked diaper bag in the trunk, and drive home to a fully-ready nursery—as the mother of a dead child.
I had no idea that the hardest was yet to come.
I really don’t think there is ever a good time for a child to die. There is never a day that is any easier than others, but I have to say that having my son die right before Christmas was excruciating. Not just because I had presents wrapped and waiting, and a stocking hanging for him in anticipation, but because the whole world was just so.flipping.happy.
MY world stopped turning. The rest of the world, however, suddenly remembered that peace, love and joy abounded and that stark contrast was like insult to injury to me.
And then, it snowed.  
You may remember seeing the news about Snowmaggedon or Snowpocalypse 2009/2010. Record high snowfalls happened December 2009-February 2010, and we lived in an area that saw nearly two feet of snow that winter. That two feet was more than the area had seen cumulatively in YEARS.
I sat and stared out the window. Peaceful, quiet snow blanketed my wooded yard, and the entire world looked so perfect.
While my insides were screaming, begging me to just stop eating so I’d just stop living.
I hated that snow. I hated that everyone was so happy and excited and joyful. I hated that the world looked perfect because I knew it wasn’t.
And I hated that the snow covered my buried child. As if he wasn’t cold enough already.
Yes, this is a tough time because we who have pieces of our hearts stolen from us have to function in a world where it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Except, it’s not.
Matthew would have been five this year. I find myself facing yet another holiday season without him, and time has not healed anything, but given me perspective that I didn’t have when he first died. I didn’t do Christmas cards that year because I’d planned to combine a birth announcement with a Christmas card. When he died, I didn’t do an announcement because I worried people would find it morbid.
I don’t worry about what others think any more, and if I could give one piece of advice, I’d suggest you not worry either.
The reality is that you’ll never please everyone with your ‘grief work,’ and frankly, NO ONE is entitled to you pleasing THEM.
They do not walk in your shoes, and God willing, they never will.
So, celebrate your child or children. We do. I wrote this article last year, to explain why we do not shy away from honoring our three children. (I lost another little boy in 2012.)

Put his or her or their names on your Christmas cards. Hang their stockings. Buy gifts in their memory and donate to children who are less fortunate.
The rest of the world may feel uncomfortable with your remembrances, but the rest of the world doesn't matter.
Your child matters. You matter. Your heart matters.
Don’t ever be worried about doing what feeds your heart. Feeds your soul. Mothers your child.
It is your right, and your honor and your privilege.
And a wonderful way to allow their legacy to live on.
Wishing you a gentle holiday season.
~ ~ ~
Lori is the owner and editor of Still Standing Magazine and also blogs at Lori Does Maryland where she writes about her life as a military wife, mother and being a little gal trying to make a difference in a big world. Lori has been featured in several books, including Because They Lived, Still StandingBecause They Lived and Grieving Parents…Surviving Loss As A Couple. Lori, her husband John and her second son Luke live in Jupiter, Florida, where they soak up as much life and sun as they can.


Shauna said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings. I loss a little girl in March of 2010 so we are going on our 5th Christmas too. I had similar feelings about not wanting people to be uncomfortable with seeing my angel babies names on our Christmas cards too, but, this year I didn't care--I wanted all my children included. I also hated seeing the snow on my daughter's grave--it really bothered me that she was out there in the cold. I started making snow hearts over her grave a couple of years ago and that helped me to see the snow as a Heavenly Blanket for her and I knit little hats that I put on her headstone as a way for me to "mother" her.

Angela Dawn Vesely said...

Thank you so much for sharing. <3

susan said...

Thank you Lori. We love you.

Julie said...

Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Sadly, we have some things in common

Laura Evarts said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Thanks for the great ideas.

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