“The complicated gray is the muck we must walk into, the space between happiness and the anger, the trust and the loss, the worry and the acceptance, the joy and the longing. Because when I give myself permission to feel it all to walk into the complicated gray, life awakens in color. And in that color I have painted a life redefined, a life of coming alive.”- Justine Brooks Froelker
The complicated gray….. Throughout my entire life, I pictured myself marrying “prince charming”, buying a house, finishing school and having my first baby while I was still young. I had these accomplishments set out in my mind to occur by the time I reached certain ages. When I was 22 I should have finished my degree and should be pregnant with a daughter, because I grew up with 4 sisters and 1 brother so obviously I expected to be a mom to girls. Getting pregnant should be easy, pregnancy was supposed to be easy as well as being a mother. Well, life doesn’t always happen the way we plan. Although I did marry my Prince Charming, I found myself at 24 unable to get pregnant after two years of trying. When I reached 25 I had been on a few fertility drugs and was still not pregnant. Frustrated and confused, I decided to stop all the treatments my doctor had prescribed. Maybe my plan wasn’t going to work out. The month I stopped taking the medicine, I found myself pregnant. I was thrilled. I was very grateful, super sick and wondered why the heck I had wanted this so bad.
My pregnancy went without any problems. I went for my regular checkups. We went for our 20 week ultrasound and everything looked perfect. We did find out that we were expecting a boy, not part of my plan. I had no idea how to raise a boy. I was shocked but felt blessed to be able to be pregnant. I remember thinking there was no way I could do scout camp and bugs, but I was grateful nonetheless.
As I prepared for this baby, I had no idea that my life was going to change forever. The “gray” was about to make its strong appearance. I was 38, almost 39 weeks pregnant. I hoped I would go into labor soon as my body was tired. On October 17, 2009, I had a baby shower scheduled, thrown by my sweet neighbors. My mom came to my house to attend with me. I remember walking down the street mentioning to my mom that the baby hadn’t moved much. I was reassured that he was running out of room and getting big. That evening my husband and I had been out with friends and I was feeling down. I had lower back pain and thought maybe my body was just getting ready. On our way home we decided to stop by the hospital to make sure I wasn’t in labor. I fully expected to be sent home. I even laughed when they asked me to put the gown on in the triage room.
I got the gown on and jumped up on the bed. The nurse came in to check the baby. She searched a while and reassured me that the baby could be against my spine and unable to be heard. This moment gives me a stomachache to even think about. She stepped away. Another nurse came and said they were waiting for the doctor and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. The doctor brought in an ultrasound machine and very bluntly explained to me that there were four chambers and they were not beating. My sweet baby had passed away. My world just ended. I remember looking at my husband wondering how I could get out of my own body and run away. The nurses left us alone. I heard one start to cry as she shut the curtain. We prayed. We prayed for strength… I prayed for a miracle. As they wheeled me to the last room on the delivery floor I wondered how I was supposed to do this. 26 hours later, on October 19, 2009 I gave birth to my son. 6 pounds 6 ounces. 19 inches long. He was beautiful. He had his dad’s lips and my nose. He was fuzzy and perfect. When they placed him on my chest he was warm and I wished with everything in me that he would take a breath. But he was born still. The only audible crying in the room was mine. How could this happen in 2009. We can save lives from all kinds of aliments, but they could not save my baby. We were not given any answers as to why this happened. His cord looked perfect. The placenta was in great shape. There was no indication of any sort of problem. I left that day with a vase of flowers. No baby. I was devastated to say the least.
We named him James. I believe with all of my heart that I will get to raise him one day. I believe that he is mine forever. I believe that he has something important he is attending to right now. He made me a mother. I think the hardest thing, as an angel mom, is the worry that people will forget my baby. He counts to me. He has a spirit and a body. He changed me. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him. I am now over 6 years from my loss. I do not believe I will ever “get over the pain”, but I do believe that I have become stronger. I am no longer the person I was before him. I am grateful for him.
Shortly after James passed away we got pregnant with our second child and have a daughter almost exactly a year younger than James. And have since had another son. What a blessing they are in my life. We include James in our lives. We talk about him and he counts as one of our children.
Through James I have been able to see the color. The gray has been redefined. I have redefined my life. I am no longer the person who wishes for things to fall into place exactly how I imagine. The past year and a half I have had the opportunity to work with Share Parents of Utah. Through this work I have redefined my grief. I have redefined the purpose of my son’s and my life. Share has helped me see purpose in the gray. I have met amazing people and have seen amazing strength. Share has allowed me to heal in a way I never thought possible. How grateful I am for the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing organization.
As Mother's Day approaches I hope we can remember those that have lost and recognize them as mothers. Although some may not have the chance to "mother" all of their children, they still hold them in their heart.