Complete and total darkness.
A gaping hole in my heart.
The feeling of having the wind knocked out of me over and over for 48 hours straight.
Taking deep breaths, only to realize I cannot breathe deeply enough to eliminate the pain I feel.
When I remember February 28 through March 2 of 2013 — these are some of the things I remember. I’ll never forget how it felt when I heard the ultrasound technician say that she could not locate a heartbeat at my mid-pregnancy ultrasound. I’ll never forget talking to my doctor on the phone as he tried to comfort me but also let me know what we could/should do to move forward. I will always remember grappling with the idea that for a period of time (probably about 10 days) I had carried Gregory’s body, even though God had already called him Home.
Honestly, I still try to think about those 10 days and figure out if I could have known something was wrong. The only thing I come back to is how terrible I felt on the Thursday night a week before the ultrasound. We were having a snow event in Kansas City and I was staying in a hotel so I could be available at work the next day. I’d eaten the dinner provided and had the worst heartburn and stomach ache I had ever had while pregnant. And I was incredibly tired. The whole pregnancy with Gregory I was tired. And I kept playing it off: “What mom of 5, plus 1 in her belly, isn’t tired?!?” Even my doctor admitted that he passed off my complaints of fatigue in that fashion.
In the end, it didn’t matter if I could have known sooner that something was wrong. Ultimately, the infection that claimed Gregory’s life was lethal, even if it had “resolved” as the bloodwork showed. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I could never have done anything to effect a different outcome. I simply did what I was called to do as a mother — I loved my baby fully from his conception until his natural death — and assisted in the creation of another soul for Christ.
I pray and ask Gregory to pray for me often. I ask him to pray for me to be a better mother to his siblings, that I can raise them to join him someday in Heaven. I ask him to pray for his siblings, too. When I “talk” to him, I remind him how much his siblings love him. I tell him how his siblings remember him. Dominic remembers that he has a brother in Heaven. Helen has asked about Gregory from time to time. Dani has included Gregory in her writing in the past. Vincent was too small to remember, but he knows there’s an extra birth stone on my “ring with all the kids on it” (my mother’s ring) and he’s heard the other kids point to it and say, “That’s Gregory.” Sarah, being the oldest and, quite honestly, the more private of my children when it comes to emotional expression, doesn’t say much. But I know somewhere in there she also has a love for her baby brother.
Of course, I don’t need a day like “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day” to remember my sixth child, my third son. (I would imagine that Breast Cancer Survivors don’t need the month of October to remember what they went through either.) Every day there is a way that I remember Gregory. Sometimes I simply glance at my ring and I’m reminded instantly. Everyday that I use a physical Rosary to pray the Rosary, I think of Gregory.
|A beautiful gift from Gregory’s godparents|
I have pictures and memorabilia the hospital gave me so I can remember what size Gregory was when I delivered his body. I don’t need them, of course, to remember how his whole hand fit on the fingerprint pad of my index finger. Even though his head was tiny, his facial features were already so much like his siblings.
No, I don’t need a special day to remember that I cried and my heart ached for so long as I worked through the seemingly endless grief of losing a child before I was ready. And try as I might, I still haven’t had an overwhelming peace that I understand God’s ways in this. I know that understanding will most likely only come when I meet God face-to-face at the end of my life.
I suppose having a “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day” gives me an outlet to write about Gregory, to share my memories publicly, and to share his brief life and the love for him as a member of our family. I go back and forth about how much I should or shouldn’t talk about Gregory. When people ask me how many kids I have, I typically say that I have five. Because in the physical realm of this world, that is what people see. Especially when I have just met a person, it seems awkward to launch into a story about my sixth child who is no longer with us. I’m okay with that. Only those who know me personally would “get it” when I say I have six children. But on a day like this, I can openly acknowledge Gregory — and all the unfulfilled desires of my heart that are made evident in that acknowledgement. It’s true that I feel like someone is missing at times from our family — but then I realize it’s not that he is missing from our family, he is simply with us in another way. He’s praying for us and he is happy and united with God.
Sometimes I think about our (very) human ideas (with our earthly attachments…) of Heaven. I’d like to think that my grandparents are in Heaven and they see Gregory and welcomed him when he came. My grandmother had two children that didn’t survive to adulthood (one stillbirth and one child who died when she was 4). I’d like to think that they were there, too. and the babies lost in pregnancy from my siblings. Even Craig’s Dad, who passed away 5 years ago — I’d like to think he is there showing Gregory “the ropes” of Heaven life. Oh, and how can I forget Aunt Bea?!? She loved children and babies. Perhaps she and Uncle Alex hang out with Gregory and she makes him her Fudge. Haha. that idea really makes me smile.
I don’t need a special day to remember Gregory. But, Gregory is someone worth remembering on a special day.