Our Trisomy 18 Journey: Empty Arms

Baby Gabriel’s footprint after passing away from genetic disorder called Trisomy 18.My dad and one of my sister’s came in and honestly, I think at that point, he was still alive.

Shortly after, I had each of my daughter’s come in to meet him, and essentially, to also say goodbye. I kept them separate so that they could each have a special moment with him, without any distraction.

My oldest was nine and it clearly broke her heart, but I think it also provided her with a lot of answers. She touched him and even smiled for a photo. Gabriel also “brought” her and her sister a special teddy bear, which we had him “hug” so that they would always have something tangible that they could hold. (Honestly, I find myself constantly holding their bears, too. It’s one of the last things I have that my baby boy physically touched.)

My younger daughter, who was five, came in after. I don’t think she grasped the idea that he had died, but that is probably for the best. All she knew is that she got to meet her brother and I think she will be eternally grateful for that as she gets older.

I had no intention of letting my four-year-old nephew come in the room, but the baby was so angelic that when his mom asked, it was completely fine by me. It was a honor to share Gabriel with as many family members as possible. I needed people to know just how “real” he was. That I had a son and that while he may have passed away, he was a very real part of our story.  Continue reading

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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

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