I had a son. His name was Brendan. He would have been 11 years old this September.
The kids were thrilled to be adding #8 to our beautiful family, especially Nathan. You see, everyone in our family has a “buddy” . . . Emily and Joan, Annabelle and Natalie, Michael and Jonathan . . . and Nathan was finally going to get his buddy.
To this day I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened. I know that the night before I lost my son, he was kicking and stretching, as usual, his active little self. One night, at almost 34 weeks, I got the kids to bed and settled down in the rocking chair to crochet. I waited for him to start his usual evening gymnastics routine, but he was unusually calm. After about an hour, I started to get worried. My husband was out of town, so I asked my neighbor to come over and sit with the kids and I drove myself to the hospital.
I walked into the emergency room, told the attendant what was going on and immediately a look of sadness fell over her face.
I knew. She knew. We said nothing.
I was handed my paperwork, given a classy paper bracelet to wear, and told to head up to labor and delivery. “Do you know where that is ma’am?” the attendant asked. I just walked away. I had birthed five of my seven children in this very hospital. I knew my way like the back of my hand.
I made my way to the nurse’s station and again was met with faces veiled in sadness. Every other time I had taken that walk, I was excitedly rushed into one of the rooms in the main hall as they prepared for my baby’s birth. Not this time. This time I was taken to a room towards the back of the floor behind the nurse’s station. I broke down crying. I kept thinking, “They’re taking me back here because they know my baby is stillborn and they don’t want me around the other moms who are delivering healthy babies.” This is the first time I have ever shared that thought with anyone.
I will never forget the image on the screen. My little boy, lifeless. I knew when I saw him . . . it was all wrong. He was floating on his tummy, not in the usual position on his back.
He was gone.
The doctor took my hand and explained to me what I already knew. Then we prayed together. He asked if I had come with anyone and I told him I was alone. He asked if I wanted him to call my husband and I took him up on the offer. While he spoke to my husband, I still couldn’t believe it was real. My baby was gone. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He only had seven more weeks until his due date. Everything was fine! What the hell? All I could do was cry.
As I drove myself home, I was completely numb. I laid in bed that night staring at my belly trying to will it to move. Staring for hours. Hoping against hope that the doctor was wrong and that at any moment my baby would move. The sun came up. Still nothing.
I’ve never had to plan a funeral for a baby. It was devastating.
As word spread, flowers and fruit baskets started arriving. Eventually, I just hid in my room and let my husband answer the door. It was all just too much.
His delivery was torturous. I understood the baby had to be delivered, but going through hours of pain and agony of delivery only to know your baby is not alive is something I don’t ever want to experience again.
The only crying when Brendan was born was mine.
His funeral was small, just us and the kids. It was a perfect ceremony for a perfect little boy. I felt guilty leaving him there. Mothers don’t leave their children, but I had no choice. I was completely broken.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
I often wonder what his voice would sound like, what kind of trouble he and Nathan would be getting into. Moms like me don’t tell our stories to garner sympathy. We tell our stories to keep the memories of our little ones alive.
I was honored to be Brendan’s mommy for seven short months. I share my story today to let other moms who have dealt with the loss of a child know that they are not alone in their pain and their grief. Our children will not be forgotten . . . not as long as we are here to keep their memories alive. God bless.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog
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