Each year on this day, I go in my bedroom closet and reach on the top of the shelf to grab a box. A box filled with priceless treasures. Memories of my baby, my second born who would be turning 9 years old today. I remember like it was yesterday, sitting in the room with the doctor and genetic counselor at 20 weeks. As you can probably imagine, everything that they were saying was a bunch of gibberish. I had checked out, asked a few questions and then the gibberish started again. They quickly gained my attention again when they said, “If you are going to terminate the pregnancy, you should do it now. There are some states that will do it after a certain period but that window is closing fast”. I didn’t believe in abortions. I couldn’t possibly. I needed to know what my options were. What were my baby’s options? What was going to happen after the baby was born? I knew something was wrong based on my early appointments but I didn’t expect this. You see, I had a miscarriage earlier in the pregnancy. After the miscarriage, I went to the doctor to get some blood work done only to find out that I was still pregnant. The type of test they gave me would’ve shown the pregnancy hormone level decreasing after the miscarriage, but my hormone levels were still increasing. The doctor said there may have been two babies in separate sacks (twins). They also forewarned that sometimes when one baby goes, the other baby typically follows so they wanted to monitor me closely.
I left that room that day after speaking with them with a heavy heart. However, little did I know, I left the hospital with the greatest gift in the form of a book that I would come to treasure. A book of mother’s who shared their stories of loss. These women were not without fear but were extremely brave. They all had their individual stories. I didn’t agree with all of their choices but I felt connected to each of them because they were mothers, because they knew my pain, they walked in my shoes. I loved each of them dearly for their bravery. After reading the book, I had a new outlook on my baby’s life and making the best of the time we had together.
I went into labor October 31st (7 months pregnant). I was living with my mother at the time and didn’t know I was in labor. The contractions from my firstborn were extremely painful but my contractions with Josiah were just uncomfortable. This uncomfortable feeling had gone on for hours. When I told my mom what was going on she immediately called 911. I was very calm when I first got into the ambulance. I gave the little paramedic guy the rundown of information. “I don’t have any amniotic fluid and my baby was breached at my last appointment”. A few minutes into the ride I started to tell the fresh faced ambulance guy that, “I feel like I’m going to boo boo on myself”. Yes, in those exact words. Smh. Then I started saying, “Oh my gosh, I really think I’m going to boo boo on myself” repeatedly. I humiliatingly went from saying it calmly in concern to yelling, “IM GOING TO BOO BOO ON MYSELF!!!”. I literally crack up thinking about it today, but in that moment all I could think about was this insatiable urge to crap and I didn’t want to do it in my clothes. I was too old for that. Forget the fact that I was pregnant and in labor. My yelling fell to silence and I began pushing. In my mind all I could think about was, “man, I’m pretty sure I’m crapping and this guys is watching me, but I can’t help it”. At this point, I was slightly embarrassed but oh well. I said, “something is coming out!”. He asked me if I wanted him to take a look. Immediately, I said “NO!?” in offense. This guy wasn’t going to get a free peek off on me!!!! Even in labor, I was clearly concerned about my goodies.
I got to the hospital and they rushed me right into the delivery room. I didn’t have any amniotic fluid but I was sure something was hanging out my “wooha”. The doctor’s must’ve saw it too because they wasted no time getting me into delivery.
Josiah was born, no cry, no noise from the doctors.
I remember telling the nurse that I wanted a breast pump. I wanted to give my baby a fighting chance. The sweet lady obliged and brought me what I wanted. She knew my baby wasn’t doing that well but she wasn’t going to deny me what I wanted… even if I was in denial. I look back on that day and I’m sure that my room was filled with “Angels” aka Nurses. They were the most thoughtful, attentive and loving women to me. I was a complete stranger but they anticipated my needs and although I left without a baby in my arms, I didn’t regret being at that hospital at that time.
The last thing that the nurses did for me was gather everything I wanted into the treasure box that I go through on this day each year. In it lies a pair of little socks, lots of pictures, footprints, patient ID, baby hat, baby doll sized diapers and much more. The last thing I did was write a letter…
Open Letter to Josiah written 11/02/05
I’m just sitting here and thinking about you. I couldn’t let you go last night. Your dad hit it right on the nose when he said that the reason I couldn’t let you go was because I didn’t want you to think that I let you go so easily. I told you about the life I wanted you to have and we talked a lot about your brother. He’s going to have questions when he gets older, but I’ll let him know that you are watching over him. It’s hard to lose someone you love so dear and the next weeks, months and even years are going to be hard for me because you were here and now you’re gone. Last night I was watching TV and someone said…”it’s not the length of life, it’s the quality. I don’t know what the show was about but I had quality of life with you. Although your presence was short lived. I knew that you knew who I was. After you were born, I hurried to come see you. You were cute and pink and held my hand when I touched yours. Your tiny finger clinched around mine and my heart melted. You even opened your eyes I sat and watched you for a while as I listened to Dr. Clark tell me what was going on. All that didn’t seem to matter to me. You were here and that was all I cared about. The second time I came to see you, you looked a lot different. Your color was gone and you looked like you had enough. Seeing you the second time was hard. All I wanted to do was take you off all of those machines and hold you. I wanted to lay you on my chest and tell you that I loved and thank you for fighting for your life long enough for me to meet you, see you, hold you, love you and then say goodbye. Although I’m grateful for the time we had, I wished I could take you home with me. I wished I could wake up to your sweet face and baby breath. I wished. But God knows best, God knew the kind of world that you would be brought into. He knew your obstacles, he knew….he knew what was best for you and I. Your dad, grandma, and grandpa came to see you and spend time with you. They loved you dearly too. You would’ve loved them. Two sides of your big brother’s life. One takes care of you and spoils you like a second mom and the other is the best playmate you’ll ever have. In the years to come as I watch your bother, I will think of you playing beside him and smiling. Because deep down in my heart you will be there. You are my teacher. You’ve taught me the meaning of love. Something’s you just can’t learn any other way…
Many mothers go through loss. People automatically assume that we don’t want to discuss it and rather sweep it under the rug. Yes, there are times that we don’t, but more often than not we really do. It’s healing to know that people care. Our baby’s lives do count. As life goes on, everything may change around us but we never forget.
Here are some of my prized memories:
This is Josiah’s memorial for the graveside service. My cousin Sada brought me over her house and let me unplug while she created these for me. I love her for that.
This is a picture of my father and I with Josiah. My father was there for me and wept just like my child was his own. I only saw this man cry twice in my life. When I told him I was pregnant with Tre (my firstborn) and in this moment at the hospital. I love him.
I want to leave you with this song by CeCe Winans. I was dealing with so much at the time and this song really got me through. My aunt told my mom what to buy and she did. The entire CD is great but this song spoke to my heart. Do yourself a favor and listen.
For those of you wanting to know. My baby was diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome. The baby’s kidney’s did not develop properly resulting in the inability to produce urine (Amniotic fluid). Not producing amniotic fluid leads to other things like the baby’s lungs not developing properly. In the womb, the amniotic fluid allows the baby room to “breathe” or do breathing exercising to develop their lungs. The doctor’s said that the baby could die inside of me, but I’m so thankful that wasn’t the case. I went into the labor, I held, I kissed my child and my child touched me back. Josiah lived 14 precious hours. 2lbs 5oz 13 ½ inches. As Josiah’s health started to get worst we decided to get away from the machines and out of the NICU and enjoy our last moments together in private.
Thanks for letting me share a piece of my heart with you.