by Nicole Lauer
April 17th seems like a normal day for most people, but for me… it’s a landmine. April 17th will always be a part of my soul. It was the day I went into labor. It was the day my doctor sat next to me, her eyes filled with tears, and told me there was nothing they could do to save my son once he made his arrival. It’s a date when I wake up and can remember every small detail of that day back in 2018. It’s a date I hope and pray our family and friends remember because the thought of my son being forgotten crushes me. It’s a date I hope and pray no one invites us anywhere because I don’t want to have to explain that I am too sad or that it’s a sacred day for me.
It’s been three years since we lost our baby boy, Kade, who was born prematurely on April 17th, 2018. Since then, I’ve gone through all the motions- the guilt of my body failing my baby, the anger at the family and friends who didn’t attend his funeral and don’t acknowledge his existence, the sadness of not getting to see my baby grow up.
When April comes each year, I brace myself. I brace myself for the heartbreaking memories that are about to come back up. As the months and years pass by, the milestones that will never be pile up. No one realizes that these milestones cut at your heart. That sometimes, grief is as raw as the day you held your child as they took their last breath. Sometimes grief can bring you to your knees without warning. People forget that because you carry your grief well and cover your grief with a smile.
Even though three years have passed, it is still very raw for me. I am still a mom to a beautiful son- I just parent him differently. I don’t get to take thousands of pictures of him. Instead, I have just seven that I will cherish forever. Instead of planning his birthday party, I decorate his grave. Instead of inviting family and friends over for his birthday, I invite them to wear blue on his birthday in his remembrance. Instead of buying him birthday presents, I go through the fireproof safe we have of his belongings- I hold the blanket I held him in close to my heart.
I remember seeing his little body on the sonogram screen the morning before I went into labor. He was healthy. He was strong. He was moving around like crazy. My body had other plans for him. One minute he was part of me. The next minute, I was holding him on my chest, telling him how much I loved him, and then had to tell him it was okay to go, that he didn’t have to hold on any longer. I watched him take his first breath and I watched him take his last…both only 99 minutes apart. I remember the nurse walking out of my hospital room, holding my baby. It was the last time I would ever see him. He was gone. My nurse’s name was Michele. My mom passed away from cancer just months before we lost our son- her name was Michele. As I saw Michele walk out with my baby boy in her arms, I knew he was with my mom in Heaven. I knew he was going to be okay.
April 17th will never be a normal day for me. I will always save that day to remember my baby. I will always wear blue. Though he wasn’t here long, he was here. His tiny life mattered and will always matter.
Kade David Lauer, you are so loved. Happy third birthday, my angel.