This is the second of a two part series from Nicole, one of our newest preemie loss mentors. It is a raw and personal look at premature delivery and loss. Sensitive content is included. If you missed the first part of her story, find it here.
The next afternoon, we were released from the hospital. A woman came to my room to take me to our car in a wheelchair. That’s exactly when my world came crashing down. I remember being wheeled down to the parking lot and I was numb. I just gave birth, but I was leaving the hospital with empty arms. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. I was helped up into my husband’s truck and as he pulled away from the hospital, I don’t think I have ever cried so hard in my life. I cried like that for the entire 25-minute drive home. Nothing could console me.
When we got home, it didn’t get any better. We had some visitors for a bit, but once they left, my husband and I just sat there in silence. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to say. Everywhere we went in our house, we would run into something baby related- whether it be all of Kade’s never worn clothes, shoes, pregnancy books, the car seat, everything.
The next few weeks were a blur. I fully admit that I hit rock bottom. How do you not though, when you have to plan your newborn’s funeral and the only way you can see your child is if you go to the cemetery? I remember being so angry at the family and friends who didn’t come to his funeral. I remember finding a bag of stuff in my closet not knowing what was in it—when I looked it was a bag full of Kade’s clothes- that bag got thrown so hard at the wall.
I remember having to go to the doctor to see if I still had the infection—I was the only woman in the waiting room who wasn’t pregnant or holding a baby. I remember sitting in church, hearing a baby crying and it took everything in me not to storm out. I remember friends and family texting me “how are you” and I was annoyed by that because I wasn’t okay and wanted them to just leave me alone. I’m lucky because I married the most supportive person on the planet and he loved me through the darkest time in my life. He got me through these times when I got so angry I could barely think. I was hard to love, I forgot how to manage a friendship, and I put on a fake smile everywhere we went. But, he loved me anyway.
I remember the day I decided I wanted to get out of the house for the first time- so I went to Target to buy some new bedding for our master bedroom. Everything was going fine…. Until I walked into the store. I was surrounded by pregnant bellies and moms with their brand new babies. I practically ran to the back of the store to the bedding and just tried to finish my shopping trip. As I made my way back to the front of the store, I kept running into pregnant women and babies. I dropped all of my things and walked out of the store, sat in my car, and I cried. There is nothing more painful than seeing other moms with their new babies and seeing pregnant bellies right after you lose a baby.
Months went by and I have learned that the pain of losing a baby will never go away. Instead, I have just learned how to live with it. I have learned what my heart can handle being around. I have learned how to avoid situations I know aren’t good for me to be in. I have learned how to respond to questions that make me want to scream (such as, so do you have any kids?). I have learned how to navigate through all of my worries during this new pregnancy we have been blessed with.
I have learned a lot. Some days are better than others. I still have moments that seem to knock the wind out of me. I still have days where I feel guilty for preparing our nursery for a new baby. I still have days where I sit at his grave, cry, and apologize over and over again for my body failing him. But, I just continue to remind myself how incredibly lucky we all were to have had our baby boy for those 99 minutes.
To this day, I remember exactly how he looked, how he felt when I kissed his forehead, and how his little hand was so small that it wrapped around just one of my fingers. Our baby boy knew nothing but love during his short time here on earth. I will forever live my life in his honor- making sure no one forgets that he existed and that his tiny life mattered.
My mission is to help other moms and dads who have experienced this type of loss. When you lose a child, you join this “club” of other parents who know and understand your pain. It’s hard for others who haven’t lost a child to comprehend a tragic event like this. They try to help as much as they can, but they don’t know what to say. They don’t really know how to make things better no matter how hard they try. They think after a few months, life moves on (even though a parent to a child in Heaven knows that it doesn’t). Because of that, a lot of times this leaves the grieving parents feeling alone. I want to support grieving parents and help them navigate through this horrible event in their life.
If you have ever lost a child in pregnancy or in infancy, you are not alone. You are loved. You are supported. You have an army of other grieving parents praying for you. If you don’t know anyone personally that has been through this, I will be that person for you.