When you lose a child, you enter this exclusive group that no one wants to belong to. This group that no one would ever choose to be a part of. It seems now, after losing Samuel, and having 3 miscarriages, that loss has become a part of my life. The grief is so difficult and the sadness comes in waves, sometimes when you least expect it. I have come a long way since I lost my son, but I am forever changed as a person. I never thought I could handle losing a child, but it is amazing how strong you can be when you have no other choice. Each night, when I look at my children sleeping, this is when I am most reminded of Samuel. I never got to see Samuel with his eyes open, only closed and it looked like he was asleep the day we saw him. The day I got to meet him and hold him I was in awe of how much he looked like his brothers. So when I look at my sons asleep, I see Samuel. Every day I am so thankful for my children. They have kept me from going to a very dark place. The road has been long and bumpy and I have tried to stay on it as best as I can. I try to see the beauty in the world each day to keep that light in my heart. The pain is always there, but now the tears come in waves. I am envious of the girl I used to be, right up until June 28, 2015, the last day I was excited to become the mother of 3 boys. The last day I was a happy pregnant lady. Oh how blissfully ignorant I was the day before my life was changed forever.
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Grief. What can I say about Grief? It is a giant elephant that follows you around anywhere you go. I have been trying to deal with my grief for 20 months now and it has become a part of my life. It is like when Charlie Brown says “Good Grief”. I have a lot of good in my life. I have two beautiful and amazing children who fill my heart with love each and every day. Without them, I probably would have been put away in a psych ward somewhere after I lost my son Samuel. I thank God for my kids every day. So I say Good Grief because that is what my life has become. A daily dose of good and grief.
It isn’t just the loss of my son that I deal with daily. Having a stillborn child is a horrible experience in so many ways besides the simple fact that your child is no longer living. It is the experience of being in the doctors office and seeing the ultrasound with your baby not moving or breathing. It’s the panic. It’s the doppler on your giant belly with no heartbeat coming out of it. It’s the words coming from the doctor’s mouth telling you how sorry they are to tell you the news. It is the extreme sadness and shock that follows. One of the most traumatizing aspects of this whole situation is the actual child birth. I never thought in my life that I would be able to have a vaginal birth, and if Samuel had lived until my due date then I would have been right. I learned the day I found out he was gone that I would give birth to him vaginally, which was only possible due to his size and the time of my pregnancy, 27 weeks.
The actual experience of giving birth to my son will haunt me forever. So it isn’t just about living with the fact that I lost my son, but the fact that I had to go through the entire birth process only to have my son come out of me lifeless and quiet. That in itself is one of the saddest things a mother can go through. I felt him leaving my body and knew he was leaving me forever. I knew the whole time and through every bit of pain that it would not be the way I had always imagined it in my head. The pain a mother endures, the contractions, the pushing, all usually ends up with a crying baby and pure joy. All of which I had to experience but with an ending no one should have to have.
No one could understand the experience of having a stillborn child unless they have gone through it themselves. Even trying to imagine it in order to sympathize with someone, still does not give them an idea of what this awful experience is like. I have always been a sensitive person, but that seems to have gotten worse since I lost my son. I have, above all other things in life, always wanted to be a mother. I love being a mother more than anything else in this world. Losing my son, I lost a part of myself that I will never get back. My heart was broken that day. Ever since, I have just been trying to piece it together enough to try to see a little more of the good in daily than the grief.
It was early in the morning on July 1, 2015 and I had been awake most of the night with contractions. And things were finally progressing. The doctors had done a few things to get me to move along and they seemed to have worked. The contractions were bad, but knowing what was to come was much, much worse. After a while the contractions started to become closer together and stronger. When it was time to start pushing, the nurse showed my husband how to hold my leg on one side to help me, while she held the other. I started to push. I remembered everything the nurse told me and the process had begun. The nurse updated the doctor on my status and remained in the room with me, my husband and another nurse. It seemed like it happened so fast but really time was standing still. The moment I had dreamt about my entire life, giving birth to my child, was finally here and was the single worst experience of my life. Of our lives. The doctor came in when I was almost done pushing to help get my baby out. When he finally came out, the room was so quiet you could hear a needle hit the floor. No baby crying as it was welcomed into its new world, no tears of joy from me or my husband. Only quiet and pure sadness. The doctor took our little Samuel out of the room and we just wept. My husband just held me and we wept for our son. My husband and I had talked about whether or not we wanted to see our son and hold him. My husband, Rob, was unsure as he had seen some photos online and was not sure what we would see and if it would be traumatic. I told my husband that I wanted to hold him and I thought we both should since this would be the only time we will ever get the chance to do so. We agreed we would hold him and also take some photos so that we had them to remember him. A short while later, the nurse wheeled in our son. She picked him up and handed him to us. He was beautiful! He looked just like our other two boys. The nurse had dressed him and wrapped him like a little doll, and that was what he looked like, a sleeping doll. We spent some time alone with him just crying and holding him. Then, a woman came in from Now I lay me Down to Sleep to take photos of us with our son. The entire experience was surreal, but I am so thankful that we did it. The woman gave us a little toy for each of our sons, to give them from Samuel. We took photos of him holding each of the toys, which we later gave to our sons. After the session was over, my husband went down to the lobby of the hospital to get our parents and tell them that they could hold their grandson if they wanted to.
I had some time alone with Sammy and I just held him and closed my eyes and rested with him in my arms. I even sang to him. I sang “twinkle, twinkle, little star” because it was the only time I could sing my baby boy a lullaby. I sat with him a while just the two of us and even though it was heart-breaking, I enjoyed every minute of it. Both of our parents came back into the room and each got to see him and hold him.
July 1, 2015 is our son’s birthday, but he will never get to blow out his candles. He will never get to play with his brothers or feel the love from his mommy and daddy. The only thing he will ever know is what it was like to be a part of me and grow in my tummy. He has made such an impact on our lives and will forever be a part of our family.
It was time. Time to get out of bed, take a shower for the last time with my son in my belly and get to the hospital. Not that there was much sleep after the day we had yesterday. We came downstairs and my in-laws were up and waiting for us to come down. We said goodbye and left. We got to the hospital and we were taken to our room. A lot of this day is still a blur to me. I remember being asked questions and getting a lot of blood work done. The baby has rights after 24 weeks so they needed to make sure I didn’t do anything that caused him to die, pleasant thought. I remember getting a lot of drugs, because at this point there was no more harm to my baby. And now it was a waiting game. The nurses were so amazing and we were in a large private room. My husband was becoming familiar with the couch he would be sleeping on for our time there. A couple of times I had different things done to me to try to speed up the process, and my doctor kept checking in with me. At one point, she told my husband to go eat and he didn’t want to leave me so she offered to stay with me so that he could go, so he did. My doctor sat with me for a while and I just kept saying that I didn’t understand why this was happening. She was trying to comfort me but her words were not helpful because none of them said I would be going home with my son. She ended up leaving that night and I had not yet gone into labor, so I would end up having a covering doctor. Late at night my contractions started, and the labor began…
One year ago today, I heard the worst news of my life. I went to the doctor because I hadn’t felt the baby moving in a couple of days and at the doctor’s office, it was confirmed that my baby had died. When I heard the news, I screamed and whaled in the office while I was on the phone with my husband, who was frantically driving to the office to meet me there. I can close my eyes and it feels like it just happened. The doctor offered her condolences and so the did NP, and then my husband got there and we just held each other and cried. How could this have happened? How could our baby be gone? It’s amazing how fast your life can change. My dad was out in the car watching my son, and I had to text him to let him know what had happened and ask him to take my son back to his house. After about a half an hour of us dealing with our grief, it was time to get into the medical part of all of this. The doctor said that we needed to get right to the hospital to start the process along, and that she felt we should do a C-section as planned originally. As we started to leave, the doctor came out to tell us that she spoke to a high risk doctor at the hospital who said the best thing was for me to deliver vaginally, which I had never done before. So now not only did we get pregnant on our own, which we never thought we could do, but now I will finally get the chance to experience a vaginal birth to my son who has died. Both of my sons were delivered via C-section, so I knew what to expect with that. This I had no experience with. We went to the hospital and they did another ultrasound just to make sure my son was really gone, before they moved on with their medical plans. And for just a second before they put the ultrasound on my belly, we prayed that we would hear a different outcome, but we did not. It was just another kick in the stomach, and not the kind I wanted to be feeling at that moment. I received medication to prevent some of the pain and then the doctors left the room. My husband and I started talking about names again because we had to name our son. I asked him to look up the meaning of the name Samuel again, since we had talked about that name before. I remembered telling my husband that Sam Carroll sounded like such a nice name for a man. The name meant God has heard. We decided to name him Samuel. After waiting in the room for what seemed like forever, the doctors came back in and put these sticks into my cervix to soften it up and get it ready for labor. This felt great (sarcasm)! After this was all done, we went back to my moms house. Seeing my parents made the tears pour out again. Then, my mother and father-in-law came over, tears again. My son Alex was there, he is not even 2 at the time, but my son Evan was in pre-k and my husband had to go pick him up early to tell him what happened. Eventually my husband came back with my son who gave me a hug and said he was sorry about what happened. We stayed at my parents house and ordered dinner in and just sat and dealt with the news. I wanted to spend the night with my kids but realized we needed to be at the hospital early in the morning so my in-laws said they would come to spend the night at our house in order to help. We spent a while at my parents, then went home. We pulled in our driveway and my son Alex was asleep, but Evan was awake. We still needed a middle name for our son. I asked my husband about the name Jonas, which we spoke of before and asked him to look it up. It meant Gift from God or messenger. We asked my son if he liked it and he said yes. His name is Samuel Jonas. That will forever be his name. Off to the hospital tomorrow after more heartache tonight…