Many of you know that I had a stillbirth almost 8 years ago. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, but people have had to endure worse and life’s been good to me in many ways, so I don’t like to let the loss define me. I had a very rough time when it happened, but life healed me. The Husband and my older kids helped me get past that initial pain, and then it wasn’t so hard to go through the motions. Eventually I went on to have Bumblebee and after she came around I was too busy to dwell much upon the loss of Joseph.
This has been a tough week, though.
On Sunday, the show Extreme Home Makeover was building a house for a woman who photographs families with their gravely ill or deceased babies. I had to control myself while I watched that show, because Hollywood and Bumblebee were watching it with me, but it really struck a chord in my heart. I seriously felt a pain in my chest. The show explained this woman’s work – she photographs people with their babies, while they are gravely ill and after they’ve passed away. One of the women interviewed said, “Being able to look at those pictures reminds me that our baby was real.”
Unless you’ve gone through something like that, you might find the thought of holding or photographing a deceased baby morbid. For us, holding Joseph after he died was natural and in its own way, beautiful. We asked for photographs with him and the nurse who took them looked so visibly horrified that I wasn’t surprised to find that her photos barely show the baby at all. But the hospital staff put him in a white dressing gown and photographed him for us. They also took footprints of him. Tiny little footprints. Someday I might get a tattoo of them. I’m still deciding.
In the tv show I was watching on Sunday, the photographer said, “Those babies might not look like normal babies, but they are still beautiful and real to the families who are grieving for them.” And that’s just so true. Joseph was tiny and had trauma marks on him from birth. His chromosome disorder made him look similar to a Down syndrome baby. But he was still our baby. I spent a lot of time on Sunday night thinking about him.
And then life got hopping again. The Boy had his birthday and we got busy as usual. Moving on is really quite easy when you can’t stop to think about sadness.
But today I got an email from a family member who is going through something very similar to what we went through almost 8 years ago. My heart breaks for her. I wish I could help her through her pain. But I know I can’t, and that brings back memories of my own sadness.
I feel guilty because while I'm very sad for our relative, I'm also sad for me. That seems a little bit selfish, but it's honest. It makes me think about how Joseph's death must have made my mom remember a similar loss she experienced.
I’ll hug my kiddos tight again tonight – remembering that they have been such a comfort to me. And I’ll probably pull out those pictures of Joseph again… just to remember a little more clearly.
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