Often the hardest moments are the ones that sneak up on you. The ones you didn’t see coming. The ones, when reflecting back, you wonder how you didn’t see it.
When my son died, I was ready. I knew it was going to happen there was no way around it. I knew it would be a day filled with a wide range of emotion. I can easily identify two specific moments that were the hardest, one of which I never saw coming. I knew walking out of the hospital without a baby was going to be so painful and I knew there was no preparation that could help. The second one caught me off guard, and in all the weeks leading up to his birth/death I didn’t think of this moment and that was having to hand my baby over to a stranger when our time was done.
Teddy was born at 11:22 am and lived 22 minutes. We spent hours together afterwards. I took a nap with him. We held him, and we told him all the things we wanted to say. We had pictures taken of him, we had him baptized, and he met one of his grandmothers. The time came when we had to say goodbye. I didn’t know leading up to the day how we could ever make that choice, but there was a point when my husband said it was time, and I knew in my heart it was.
What I didn’t realize was that we would have to call the funeral home ourselves to come to get him; I didn’t realize a man in a suit would come into our room with a box. I did know that this would be the precise moment the gravity of our situation would truly hit. My husband was so brave, he politely asked the man to leave. He told me to say goodbye and walked Teddy down the hall and placed him, our son, into a box and said goodbye for the last time.
He walked back into our room a changed man. These types of experiences affect every fiber of your being. I screamed for my baby back, my body and my arms ached for Teddy something fierce, and I wept harder than I knew humanly possible while my husband held me quietly grieving his son.
Nothing in my life up until that moment had been so permanent. I couldn’t sneak back and have another minute, I couldn’t change my mind, I couldn’t even pray for it to be different. It was what it was. Our son was in a box all alone, and we put him there. We would never see him again. It was forever.
Since that day we have encountered people who don’t understand why this loss hurts so deeply. Why this loss will be forever carried with us and has forever changed us. These same people don’t understand what our experience looked like. I know if they had placed their baby in a box to never see them again, they wouldn’t feel, think, or say the things they have.
I don’t blame people for not understanding the depth of our loss. It is one that is incomprehensible until you lived it. Baby’s don’t evaporate; there is a whole process to a loss, from the beginning moments of finding out the baby is going to die or is dead all the way through to leaving a hospital empty handed and beyond. Sometimes that process is hours and sometimes, like for us, it was around 10 weeks. Every experience is different, the common link is that these experience change those involved forever. Please don’t judge, instead just give love.