Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I Wish I Would Have Done

by Alex Hopper

This isn’t something I have wanted to write about, or even think about for that matter. To think back to such a trying time, and to think of things I wish I had done, is so so sad, because those are wishes that will forever stay unfulfilled. My son died, and all the “if-onlys” will forever stay undone. But there are others who are still carrying their sweet children. And though their children will not live, they are still living at this moment. For them, there is still time, even if it is far too short. So I will write this, for them, so that maybe my regrets won’t have to be regrets for them.

I wish I would have talked to him more. I know that he could hear my voice, and I know that he knew my love, but I wish I would have said more. I wish I would have told him all the things I was thinking and feeling. All the things that I would not have the chance to say, by not getting to see him grow up: “We’re so proud of you”, “You’re such a big boy”, “We love you”, “Happy Birthday, Son”. 

I wish I would have sung to him. Lullabies, my favorite songs, “Happy Birthday”.  

I wish I would have rocked him to sleep. I know I couldn’t physically, but I wish I would have sat in his room at night, and rocked him peacefully in the dark. 

I wish I would have read to him. The Bible, cards we were sent, my favorite books as a child: Jamberry, Good Night Moon, Love you forever. 

I wish I would have taken more pictures. We started taking pictures as soon as we knew we were pregnant, but after the diagnosis, it was so hard to continue doing those “normal” pregnancy things. It was hard to smile for a picture, knowing the future. 

I wish we had gotten a lock of his hair when he was born. Just to have that physical reminder, that he was real. 

I wish we had gotten casts made of his hands and feet. To have his likeness in 3D is something I will always yearn for. 

While there are many things I wish I would have done, there are so many more things that I am thankful we did. I would encourage anyone who is currently in this unimaginable situation (carrying your child with a fatal diagnosis), to consider doing some of these things. And this is extremely personal. What worked for me may or may not work for you. But the point is, though it may seem impossible, try to cherish the short time you have.

I am thankful that we shared our son with others. It seemed impossible to share our happy news, being so unsure of our son’s fate, but we did. I am so glad we were open about our situation and our struggles. By doing so, it allowed our son to touch so many lives. It also provided a lot of support while we were pregnant. 

I am thankful we still had a gender reveal party and baby showers. Though it was extremely difficult, our son’s life deserved to be celebrated. It gave others a chance to love on us and our son, and we are forever grateful for that. 

I am thankful we took maternity pictures. I never really had a chance to share the photos, but having them is such a treasure for me. Those are some of the few photos of the three of us all together. 

I am thankful that we planned and decorated his nursery. It might seem like having an empty nursery with no baby to bring home would make things more difficult. But here’s the thing, the most difficult thing is having no baby to bring home. Any other things or reminders can’t add to or take away from that fact. Losing a child is terrible, period. But, for us, having a nursery for him validates his life. That room, no matter what it is in the future, will always be his room first. 

I am thankful that after he was born, we dressed him, held him, and shared him with others. I am also eternally grateful to NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) for coming and taking tons of pictures for us. We will always treasure those photos. 

Lastly, I am so thankful we chose to carry our son. We fought for his life and gave him every chance possible at life. 

During my pregnancy, I was constantly torn between knowing my son would die, but knowing that, for the moment, he was still with us. I am so thankful for the amount of time we had with him, knowing that he could have easily passed months sooner. I am so thankful for the time we had with him once he was born. 1 hour and 9 minutes of pure love. And though we should have had so much more time together, I will never forget those 231 days he was alive. I won’t lie; this will be the most difficult thing you’ve ever faced. But I can assure you your child’s life, no matter how brief, is worth it.
~ ~ ~

Alex Hopper is a writer in North Carolina. She is married to her beloved, Trent, and mommy to her angel, Cyrus. Cyrus was diagnosis with a fatal birth defect in the womb at 12 weeks. He was carried with love until he was born at 33 weeks on November 25, 2013. He lived for 1 hour and 9 minutes. His life was short, but his legacy lives on.


Kellie said...

Alex, you are so brave to write this. I tTy every day to not let my mind wander to "what I should or could have done differently". I try my very best to just be at peace with everything I did and have for Lily. I say it's brave because you are willing to let yourself go there to help other mothers. The truth is we could do absolutely "everything" and even that would never be enough.

Sarah St. Onge said...

Thank you so much for sharing this- I have such a long list of "what-ifs" too.... This is so helpful for new moms. <3

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