***I wrote this out in my Drafts. I thought a long time about publishing. This is my space and I’ve never had to write anything so painful. Part of me is screaming to leave it in Drafts. The other part of me is pushing to publish it so that…I don’t know…that it is healing for me to make it public among my readers. But I am hurting so much right now, that I think it’s cathartic, just to get it out…to purge my soul of these words so that I can write new words. I don’t know if I can or if I will write new words. But part of me feels like I have to get these words out so new words can come in. So, that is why I publish. If you’re not in a place where you can read about a woman whose heart has broken, no shattered, at this moment, you may want to just pass***
My baby boy, Gregory, was born and died at 6:09 a.m. March 1, 2013. This is my letter to him on the day after.
My dearest Gregory. My sweet baby boy. I miss you so much. I love you so much.
When I found out you were conceived, I was shocked and happy, too. It can be that way you know. I actually have quite a level of surprise with each of your siblings when we found out they were on the way. Always surprise that God would bless us with this supreme gift. And we’ve been blessed 6 times. That’s a lot really. And it’s more than we could have ever expected or deserved.
You were even more special, you know. #6! You make our family larger than the ones your dad and I grew up in. We sometimes felt a little out of our comfort zone thinking about it. Thoughts of larger vehicles, new sleeping arrangements, special day care arrangements floated constantly in and out of my mind. I had a hunch you were a boy from the minute I heard your heart beat. You might be the kid to even the house out (4 males and 4 females). Your strong heart beat at 135 bpm when I was 13 weeks pregnant with you.
When I heard that heartbeat you were only about 4 weeks away from moving on to be with our Heavenly Father. I am glad I didn’t know that then.
I struggled physically through this pregnancy because I never felt good. People asked often “how are you feeling?” and I never had a good answer because I didn’t want to tell people that I felt “blah” and I wanted to be joyful at your presence in our lives. So I never knew what to say because I really didn’t feel anything better than “blah” or “kinda yucky” or anything like that. I was overly fatigued. I passed all of this off thinking– well, that’s life for a mom of 5, growing a 6th, with a full-time job and a full plate of activities for the other children — I’m supposed to be tired. But knowing what I know now…it makes sense…you were struggling to come along. And my body was trying to bring you along, but it wasn’t gonna happen this time.
My precious baby — I never got to see you alive, moving around in my womb. I am starting to realize I may have only felt you move a couple of times, and those might have been flukes. I started to get concerned around 18 weeks when, if I poked my abdomen, I didn’t get a poke back from you. With your sisters and brothers…even if I didn’t feel regular movement yet (and they were all pretty late with that except one) I could poke and get a poke back. But you never poked me back.
I did not get an early ultrasound. I was sure of your conception date, so Dr. H. didn’t order an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. Perhaps that is a blessing. Perhaps we would have found out what would ultimately take you Home to Jesus and lived this pregnancy in fear of the day you would leave us. And instead, we simply loved you and anticipated you up to that moment when they couldn’t find your heart beating at that ultrasound when you were supposed to be 18w 6d along.
You measured 17w 2d. That means you most likely passed away in the following hours or the day following my last prenatal appointment. Your heart was soft, but the doctor said he could hear it and it beat at 115 bpm. I wanted to ask him to do it again so I can hear it better, but I had your older sisters and Dominic with me, and I didn’t want to cause a scene with them there. So, I accepted it. I marveled because the lowest heartbeat rating for Dominic was 120 bpm in utero.
The pain that seared through my heart in the seconds after the technician said she couldn’t find heart movement is completely indescribable. My sobs were of the primal, uncontrolled sort. And I couldn’t stop crying. I had to call Craig. I didn’t want to. But I had to. We cried on the phone for what seemed like an hour, but was probably only about 5 minutes. I was lost. What do I do now? The technicians were calling Dr. H. I was still lost. The fog set in. I literally could not stop sobbing and it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. Over and over. Every time I had to tell someone on the phone what happened, I couldn’t stop the sobs as I said, “My baby died.”
We arrived at the hospital around 7:00 p.m. February 28. During the registration process, I felt like I needed to request a room out of the way in Labor and Delivery. The registration lady assured me she thought it was a room out of the way, but if I was not comfortable when I saw it to have them move me. I began crying in her office. The crying turned to sobbing as I walked with my husband to the elevators. The sobbing turned inconsolable as we walked into Labor and Delivery and past the nurse station. When I saw the room, I knew it was perfect. It was halfway down the back hallway. No one would hear me sob as I delivered you and I wouldn’t hear other women having their babies…their full-term babies.
They began cytotec around 8 p.m. and Craig and I visited with our brother-in-law who stopped by. Then we tried to sleep. I awoke at 2:15 and they put in the next dose. The nurse stayed and told me what to expect when I saw you for the first time. She asked if I wanted to hold you. I hadn’t even thought of that as an option, though I understand why they ask now. The nurse told me about how your skin would be so thin…kind of like the membrane under an egg shell that helps hold the egg together. I would be able to see the blood flowing in your skin. But I would see your eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet…everything. I would just need to be careful and understand that you weren’t old enough for your skin to be creamy or flesh colored. I’m glad she prepared me. She also prepared me for what it would feel like when it was time to have you. Dr. H returned to the floor just in time to tend to you and to me. He broke your water and you were born within minutes after that. They told me you were a boy…and I knew it already. They put you on a blanket and I held you. So gently…I held you and looked at you. You were perfect. Your eyes were closed and your nose was so perfect. Your mouth looked like your Daddy’s mouth. And your tiny hands…the pad of your entire hand could fit comfortably on the fingerprint pad of my index finger. But you had five perfect fingers on each hand and you kept them close to you in your fetal position.
I cried because you were so beautiful. You were tiny. You were as beautiful as all of my babies have been. I cried because I love you so much and now I don’t get to take you home, and feed you a bottle and burp you. I don’t get to change your diapers. I don’t get to help you learn to crawl and then walk. I don’t get to watch your sisters fuss over holding you. I don’t get to watch you play cars with your brothers.
I continue to cry. At Mass this morning, I cried as I received the Holy Eucharist because I miss you and because you are already in full Communion with our Lord and I desire so badly to be there with you. I cry because I know you’ll never serve Mass with your brothers. I cry because… I cry because…I love you and miss you and want you here with me. I cry because I know you’re where you are supposed to be, but it hurts so bad that you’re not here with me. I want you to be here with me.
So, it’s time to call Father Rogers and get some arrangements made for a Mass and burial. I love you so much. I miss you so much. I am trying so hard to understand why I needed this, but I know God has a plan in all this, however painful it is. I have to continue to believe this.
Gregory. My sweet baby boy. I love you so. I miss you so.
I love you. Please pray for your momma. Please pray for me, Gregory. I love you.