So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

April 29th.

As soon as the receptionist handed me the card, I began to obsess over the date.

April 29th.

It had a nice ring to it, no?

On April 29th2008, I would be 21 weeks and one day pregnant. I had heard they performed this sonogram earlier in some cases, but I wasn’t about to argue.

We had gotten this far.

This was our time.

We were blessed.

Also known as the anatomy scan, this was one of the more exciting tests performed during pregnancy. It was the one in which you got to find out the baby’s gender. Although I could barely contain my excitement, I also felt a sense of disappointment. I knew it was a boy but was secretly hoping for a girl. I even had a name picked out: Carolina Rose. Carolina was a tribute to my late mother, Carolyn.

I couldn’t help but feel guilty wondering if preferring one gender over the other made me a bad mom. However, I knew that what I felt was not uncommon. Many women were partial to one or the other. I wasn’t alone. Besides, this baby was going to be so loved no matter what.

During those days, when coming home from work on the subway, I would typically refer to the calendar on my phone. I loved this special time. The countdown seemed to be going so slowly. In the end, it didn’t matter as I knew the day would eventually get here. One time, after a particularly rough work day, I put down my phone to view a beautiful sunset. The train was on the elevated line and I had the most beautiful view. To me, the sunset symbolized the joy and happiness that was ahead. It symbolized the end of winter and the beginning of spring. A new, beautiful beginning. I had tears in my eyes.

In what felt like forever, April 29th finally arrived. I was employed as a special education teacher and worked in shifts. After my morning case, I would meet my husband, Brian, at the subway station and we would ride into Manhattan together. By the time my test ended, I would be ready to go to my afternoon assignment. I had chills just thinking about it. I knew I would be so elated by the end of the day and would barely be able to concentrate. It was a beautiful thing.

Brian picked me up on time and we started our journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The song that always annoyed me happened to be on in the car. Interestingly enough, it was starting to grow on me. Nothing would get me down today, even a slightly irritating song.

Once at the office, I felt as if I was being tortured. The wait was never-ending. Finally, I was called in. I was frustrated at Brian for not being there. He was still parking the car.

The sonogram technician and I agreed to get started and wait for Brian to reveal the gender.

“Your baby likes to hide,” the sonogram technician noted.

I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that, but I smiled nervously. Brian arrived just in time to hear the words I was waiting for:

“You are having a . . . boy!”

The lady then quickly made an exit while mumbling something about “needing the doctor to come and take a look at something.”

I just knew.

“Is there a problem?” I asked the doctor as she studied the screen with squinty and concerned eyes.

“I’m afraid so. I think I found a problem with the baby’s heart,” she answered.

We were quickly whisked out of the office and told to go to their recommended pediatric cardiologist.

As we were leaving the office, I noticed the sun had appeared with a gentle breeze.

It was the perfect day.

Until it wasn’t.

I felt like I was going to be sick.

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome was the diagnosis given by the pediatric cardiologist.

He went on to explain the left side of the baby’s heart was severely underdeveloped. Three surgeries, a possible transplant, and termination were some of the words I made out as I sat in a complete state of shock. Although, I was safely seated on the exam table, I thought I was going to pass out.

We had some very tough decisions to make. Our precious baby was so very sick.

Why was this happening?

Was I being punished for secretly wishing for a girl?

All of this on April 29th—a day I was certain would be one of the best of our lives.

The next four months would be spent at a high-risk office with many tests and procedures. We would be delivering in a hospital with pediatric doctors that specialized in this condition.

On September 8, 2008, Liam Jude entered both the world and our hearts. The burst of love that I felt as the nurses placed him on my chest was a feeling that I will never forget. I loved him so much.

Then they took him away.

Why?

Little Liam had nine way too short days with us. He passed very unexpectedly. The doctors said he was doing great and that he would be coming home soon.

I felt betrayed.

They lied.

Today, 10 years later, I sit in my lovely home waiting for the kids to get off the bus. It is nearing the end of the year and spring is in the air.

It has been such a long journey, filled with both despair and joy.

My living children have kept me going through all my sadness.

My living children are my strength.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard.

It also doesn’t mean I have moved on from the grief.

It is still there—and will always be.

However, I have learned to be happy again.

I have learned to stop blaming myself.

I have learned that there is promise.

There is hope.

One of the best things Brian and I did was to join two neonatal bereavement support groups. I will never forget that one meeting in particular.

“We are having another baby,” Brian announced.

It was just five months after the loss of Liam and was a bittersweet announcement to make.

Our group leader, Ivy, told me to focus on one word: hope.

Hope not only gave me the strength that day, but so many other days as well.

Hope continues to give me strength.

Love continues to be what I feel for Liam and my living children.

I am not only grateful for hope—but for the love I feel every day.

Kathleen Sullivan

I am a freelance writer and full-time mom. My work has appeared on: The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamalode xoJane, Parentco., Mommyish and Your Tango. I can also be found blogging at: http://www.threekidsonehusbandandabottleofwine.com/

My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born

In: Child Loss, Grief
My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born www.herviewfromhome.com

My baby was stillborn, but still born. In a cool white hospital room where so many had been born before. My body trembled and shook as his body worked its way out of my womb and into the hands of a doctor. He was void of breath, of sound, of movement, but he was still born. My baby was stillborn, but still lived. In the darkness of my womb. The outline of his body was visible against the darkness of the screen, his presence undeniable. The sound of his heartbeat drowned out the sound of mine as I watched his...

Keep Reading

I Am Not My Child’s Death

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Faith, Grief
I Am Not My Child's Death www.herviewfromhome.com

We are NOT what has happened to us or what this world says we are. That is not what defines us. While we are grieving parents, that is not what our whole story has to be about. Although, at times, we feel that our story is over. We ask, how do we go on and live full lives without our sweet Sophie with us? I’m still not 100 percent sure I know the answer to that. BUT the Lord says I am beloved. I am redeemed and accepted. I am holy and chosen. I am righteous and complete. I am...

Keep Reading

The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child

In: Child Loss, Grief, Motherhood
The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child www.herviewfromhome.com

Within the first three months following the death of my newborn daughter, I participated in one baby shower, attended two first birthday parties, had multiple infants in and around my home, and watched not one, not two, but five of my closest friends take happy, healthy babies home from the hospital. And in the midst of my own life-altering experience, I purchased, wrapped, and mailed a gift to every one of those new babies, because they deserved one. In the days and months after my daughter died, I didn’t run away or hide from babies at all. And this seemed...

Keep Reading

6 Commitments I Made to Myself After Child Loss

In: Child Loss, Grief, Kids, Motherhood
6 Commitments I Made to Myself After Child Loss www.herviewfromhome.com

Following the death of our infant daughter, I found myself facing an opportunity to activate the immense power of personal choice. Time and time again. Hour after hour, day after day. It felt as if every moment that passed provided me with a choice: to let the grief consume me, or not. In the midst of the most emotionally complex experience of my life, my ability to survive felt as simple as that. Will grief consume me, or not? Once I began believing that Olivia had lived out her life’s plan completely—that she had come, she had loved, she had...

Keep Reading

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

In: Child Loss, Grief, Infertility, Motherhood
To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone www.herviewfromhome.com

You are walking the hardest path anyone will ever walk—living this life without your children. Your losses have come in many shapes and sizes. You’ve lost tiny heartbeats early in the womb. You’ve screamed and sobbed through labor to deliver a silent but perfect little bundle. You’ve held a fragile infant for hours, days, weeks, or months, only to give him back to Heaven. You’ve watched your little one grow into a curious toddler and then held her a final time as disease or an accident took her away. You’ve lived a full childhood with your baby and even watched...

Keep Reading

A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief, Miscarriage
A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven www.herviewfromhome.com

Dear Mama, I know you miss me and wish you could watch me grow up. But instead, you sit in that rocking chair, tears streaming down your face, arms wrapped around the blanket that was supposed to be mine. I see you crying, Mama, wishing you could hold me. Wishing you could look into my eyes. Wishing you could hear me cry or call you “Mama”. I want you to know Jesus rocks me to sleep every night and while He does it, He tells me all about you. I know tulips are your favorite flower and that every spring...

Keep Reading

God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief
God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle www.herviewfromhome.com

I used to be someone who said, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That was before I had faced any hardships in my life. I didn’t know who God truly is. When people are going through something hard and decide to share it, it makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch others who are hurting, and it’s hard not knowing how to help when it’s someone you love. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” is a very well-meaning encouragement that I know is meant in love. I’ve said it before! But it’s not really...

Keep Reading

Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters

In: Child Loss, Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters www.herviewfromhome.com

“We should get a tattoo, Mom.” I laughed. I knew it was just my younger daughter, Sarah’s way of getting herself a tattoo—to go along with her nose ring, and six ear piercings. She didn’t really want me to get one. Did she? “Truth!” My oldest, more conservative daughter, Elle, chimed in. “We should all go.” What? Home from college just five minutes, maybe she was bored. I heard tattoos really hurt and she hates pain, like I do. I glared at my two daughters, now 17 and 19. They can read my mind. I knew it! There was something...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Sure How Long I’ll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal…and That’s OK

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Grief, Mental Health
I'm Not Sure How Long I'll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal...and That's OK www.herviewfromhome.com

I tried to wean off of Zoloft and couldn’t. And that’s OK. I had never really been aware of the world of antidepressants. My life has been relatively uneventful—with the normal ups and downs that most of us go through. I knew people on medication for depression but never understood. How can you be THAT sad that you can’t just be positive and make the best of your circumstances? How can someone be THAT unhappy ALL the time to need medication? I didn’t get it. I felt bad for people going through it. Then my 2-year-old was diagnosed with Stage...

Keep Reading

To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes

In: Cancer, Child, Child Loss, Health
To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes www.herviewfromhome.com

Most people never get to meet their heroes. I have, in fact—I have met many heroes. These heroes didn’t set out for greatness; they fell victim to a terrible disease and faced it with courage, might and bravery like I have never seen before. And when we talk about this type of battle, there is no such thing as losing. whether the battle ended in death, life, or debility, each of these heroes defeated. My heroes are the innocent children who battle cancer. I high-fived, hugged, wept over, laughed and played with my heroes for 10 years as a nurse. And you better believe I...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime