I used to rub my stomach and whisper to you.
“Hey there baby girl. What are you doing in there?”
“Hi sweetheart, I can’t wait to meet you.”
So many moments imagining what it would be like to say hello. To see your face. To welcome you into the world.
Days spent curled up in bed, my hand where I imagined your hand to be–waiting for the day when your fingers would curl around mine.
Lingering in daydreams of what my life would be like when we finally said hello.
Never knowing that we would too quickly say goodbye.
All I have left are those days full of wishes. Those hopes that shriveled up when I learned you were gone.
That’s all I have left of you.
Memories never made–only imagined. Moments never spent–only longed for.
Because when we said hello, we also said goodbye.
I never imagined it would be this way.
You, no longer living and me, longing for a life with you here.
This was not what I was waiting for.
I was waiting for birthdays and holidays. First steps and first words. A million moments both extraordinary and mundane. I was waiting for a life.
Instead, you died.
And when you died, I realized that I waited your whole life just to say goodbye.
Saying goodbye to you meant saying goodbye to the life you never lived.
Instead of birthdays and holidays–anniversaries of the day you died.
Instead of first steps and first words–stillness and silence.
Instead of a million moments lived–a million moments lived without.
You see, I thought about a life with you in it, but I never thought I’d have to live that life without you.
This life I’m living without you, it’s cruel and it’s painful. But the truth is–it’s ours. It may not be what I wanted for us, but it’s what we’ve got.
And I know we’ll make the most of it.
Because I waited all this time to know you and you will always be worth the wait.
Photo by Alekon pictures on Unsplash
One thought on “I Waited Your Whole Life To Meet You And I Had To Say Goodbye”
My first child would have been 21 this year. He was active in the womb. I remember talking to him and putting my hand on my stomach. I would say, “I know you’re awake baby. I feel you.”
We went to the hospital for the 20 week ultrasound to find out the sex. They made my husband sit in the waiting room while they did the preliminary ultrasound, getting measurements and checking his little body to make sure all was well. At first, the nurse even commented on how active he was. Then things got quiet. Looking back, my only indication that anything was wrong was her turning the screen away from me. But this was my first child. I had no prior experience to compare to. I thought she was turning it so she could get a better view herself.
She eventually told me that she would be back. I assumed she was going to get my husband so he could come in for the revealing of the sex.
After what seemed an eternity she returned. Without my husband. In her hand she held an envelope. She wiped my belly off and helped me off the table. She calmly explained that we needed to take the envelope to my OBGYN. He would explain all that we needed to know.
What happened next was a blur. I remember telling my husband what we needed to do and getting changed back into my clothes. I remember having to stop in the bathroom at the hospital because I was losing it, crying. I remember walking into the doctor’s office through the back door so I wouldn’t have to see the waiting room full of pregnant women and take a chance that I might see someone I knew.
I still remember what room we were placed in immediately. I remember waiting for what felt like an eternity for the doctor to come in the room. My husband, who rarely showed his emotions, had sweated through his shirt. Finally, the doctor came in and told us our baby boy had anencephaly. A hole in the top of his spinal cord had stopped his brain from developing past the brain stem. He probably wouldn’t survive his birth. If he did, his life would be measured in minutes. We left through the back door and went home in a daze.
What happened after that was a whirlwind of emotions and plans for his little funeral. I gave birth to him on June 11th. I got to hold his lifeless body and touch his little face. I was exhausted from laboring for 14 hours, but my first thought was to get up and run away with him because they wanted to take him from me. On June 14th, we laid his little body to rest on a beautiful hillside in West Virginia. He had my husband’s jaw line and his fingers and toes were long, which was common on my side of the family. The nurse taking care of him said he had the biggest feet and shoulders of any baby she had seen at that age.
One of the hardest things for me is that most people around me didn’t even acknowledge that I had lost a baby. One day I was pregnant (and showing). The next I wasn’t. It was like he had never existed. I had one friend who came to me and said, “Tell me about your son.” She actually wanted to see his pictures. The hospital took pictures of him post mortem. They were not your pictures to show around to others. They were for me.
I’m thankful now that others seem to be able to talk about infant loss, no matter what form it takes. In 1999, finding a support group for this type of thing was difficult at best.
I learned that after a loss like this, you realize that your heart can shatter into a thousand little pieces. But when God puts those pieces back together it’s stronger than ever. Your heart will never look the same again, and there’s always going to be that hole that has the name of your little one(s) written across it. I encourage you to reach out to others who will affirm the fact that you had life growing inside of you. And help others who follow in your tracks. We are not meant to bear these burdens alone.