Battling Grief After the Loss of a Child

Mother grieving after the death of a childFrom my life’s experience, I believe that there is depression and that there is grief. While you certainly can have both at the same time, the two are not interchangeable. I am grieving.

For many years, I struggled with depression and on many occasions, found myself no longer having the will to live. At two distinct points in my life, those emotions were so strong that I attempted to end my life, thankfully to no avail.

I had lived through some of life’s greatest struggles. From difficult break-ups to being cheated on while pregnant, from sexual assaults to nasty custody battles, I had experienced heartache, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion that challenged my very existence.

It wasn’t until the birth of my daughters that I realized that life was so much bigger than me and my day-to-day problems. I understood that my existence here on earth was so much larger than the hardships I faced. I fought to heal myself though a combination of counseling services, medications, and the realization that my success rate for making it through difficult days was 100 percent. While depression and anxiety still sneak up on me from time to time, as they do to everyone, I am much better equipped with the tools, resources, and mindset to find the good in my life and to move forward in a positive, productive way.

But more recently, I was introduced to the most raw form of grief–the loss of a child– and its presence has shaken me to the core. I am not depressed. I am heartbroken and emotionally devastated.

Even just the simple act of crying has changed for me. Continue reading

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Our Trisomy 18 Journey: My Baby’s Funeral

“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?”

The sounds of children’s voices echoed through the cathedral at my daughters’ school as my husband, dressed in black, carried our son Gabriel towards the altar. My two daughters and I, along with our family members and all the small children in attendance, followed behind, carrying white roses to offer him near his casket. My mom took one of my grandmother’s tablecloth’s and placed it over top, as a pall. A Catholic priest sprinkles incense on our infant son at our baby's funeral following his death due to fetal abnormalities and a genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18.

I will always remember my baby boy being placed at the forefront of this beautiful cathedral, painted light blue, surrounded by roses, stained glass windows, and the smell of incense. My husband placed a baby blue Crucifix on top of his casket and a two-toned blue Rosary nearby.

And then it began–my baby’s funeral. My son’s official farewell.  Continue reading

Our Trisomy 18 Journey: The Planning

You never realize how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have. Bob Marley. The emotions a mother feels after her child dies due to Trisomy 18 or other fetal abnormalities.

This part of our journey was so very difficult. I cannot explain the the agony I felt in knowing our sweet boy was alone, in refrigeration, just waiting. Waiting for us to figure out what to do with him and how to honor his short but very important life.

It felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest every time I thought about him laying there, alone and cold. Thanks to a loving and compassionate funeral home, I knew he was safe, but even so, it was agonizing. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to keep him warm. I wanted him to return to my arms, even if just for a moment, to tell him how much I loved him and how much I missed him already.

I laid in bed crying and remember physically reaching both arms out to the sky, begging God to hand him to me; to let me hold him just one more time.

Continue reading

Our Trisomy 18 Journey: The Amniocentesis

A doctor holds an amniocentesis needle with a message about dealing with the procedure after a unexpected anatomy ultrasound during pregnancyMy husband and I called up my parents, as we always do in a crisis, and asked if they could come spend the night and take our daughters to school in the morning so we could get to the 7:30 a.m. amniocentesis. Again, it was as if the doctors wanted us there when no one else was around. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time and the last thing they wanted was a weeping mother in their office, or at least that is how it seemed at the time.

My heart broke because that day happened to be the Mother’s Day celebration in my youngest daughter’s preschool classroom. The children had been working tirelessly to perfect their special songs, one in English and one in Spanish. There was no place on Earth I wanted to be, and yet, I was unable to tell the doctor’s “no.”  Continue reading

Our Trisomy 18 Journey: The Anatomy Ultrasound

He was tiny, but he was perfect in every way. A mother remembering her infant son who died shortly after childbirth due to Trisomy 18May 8th was perhaps the hardest day of my life.

After the phone call the night before, I asked my mom to come sit with me at the anatomy ultrasound. She was running behind because of traffic, and my heart was beating out of control. She made it, though. Thank goodness, she made it.

They called my name and we headed back. I told the tech about my phone call with Dr. Weed, and as I presumed, she had not been updated.

As the ultrasound proceeded, I was told there was a heart beat. He was alive. He was ALIVE! That, to me, was everything. I let my heart and mind ease a bit as she scanned his body on the screen. His little legs and feet were precious. Both of his hands had one finger pointing upwards, as if to say, “I’m number one!” Looking back, I wonder now if he was pointing up to heaven, letting me know he would be okay no matter what.

“Congratulations! You are having a boy,” the tech said. At that moment, I felt calm. Tears of joy flowed down my face because I knew that she wouldn’t have used those words if there was bad news. The blood work, as expected, was wrong. Continue reading