Life After Loss: Still A Day To Day Process

Fall ushers in cooler weather (for some of us), school days, Halloween, pumpkins, Thanksgiving….a slew of family focused, or more specifically, children focused activities. This has become one of the hardest seasons for me, reminding me that life after losing a child or children, is still a day by day process; and no matter how many years pass – the feeling that my grieving is still happening.

I want to be entirely, unendingly happy; and happy for all of the wonderful milestones that people want to share about their little ones. And finally not to have every single one bring tears. Now, some even make me smile; but, with no rhyme or reason, some send me into a reality that still just isn’t fair sometimes.

I have lost multiple children. I physically gave birth to two sons whose time here was entirely too short, and miscarried five others. I have hard days throughout the year – birthdays, angel-versary’s, October 15th…these are my days to think about my boys. I can’t give a name or a gender to the multiple early term losses – and those make me so sad; but with Rhys and Nicholas, it’s different. I got to hold them. I got to have a service for them. I got to be a mother to my own flesh and blood for just a little while. 

I lost Nicholas in 2006 on the same day he was born. I went into labor and was sent home with the information that I was probably passing a kidney stone. I am not going to hash out the things that went wrong that day, or blame the hospital, or be angry anymore about the whole situation. The long and short of it was, I went into labor at 22 weeks gestation, by the time I was properly examined; it was determined my water was going to break any moment and there was no way of stopping the birth. 22 weeks just is not enough time to carry a child. He came into this world without a sound and was gone within 5 minutes of his entrance. The time and place I was in, in my life, now leaves me with very little in the way of physical memories of this child.

I gave birth in March 2010 to Rhys and got to spend almost 2 months with him, almost every single day at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital. Two months of emotional ups and downs, tests of faith, seeing the miracles in modern medicine, and ultimately seeing that none of it was meant to save Rhys. In May of the same year, I once again had to let go of my very own baby, and figure out what direction my life was was taking – because it sure wasn’t apparently full time parenthood. Thankfully, this time around I am married to a fantastically thoughtful and amazing man who had the forethought to chronicle almost every second in pictures and words from the both of us. How lucky I am to have every single one of these reminders.

2013 – I figure I have a pretty good handle on things this year. I still think of my babies very often, but am finding that it leaves me a useless, heaping mess unable to function a LOT less. Then comes Fall time, beauty and the dying of the summer season and the year, and I find myself really bothered. I imagine days running after a 3 year old boy and what types of things might come with that. I have never progressed past very limited parenting and watching a child grow – a mere 2 months is the most I got. (In fairness, I get a ton of practice with my step kids; but only part time – and there is so much that you just miss coming into a child’s life later.) I imagine what kinds of things a 7 year old boy might be enlightening me about and what he might look like or talk like or have interest in. I wonder what they might want to be on Halloween (although the carefree days of being able to trust society like when I was young seem to be a thing of the past); maybe an Angry Bird, or hopefully a super hero? (I will admit, there would be major influence there hehe, both hubby & I are addicted to super heros!) 

What would their interests be? And where would they excel intellectually? Would they be readers, spellers, history buffs, maybe a math whiz? What kinds of sports would they favor, and would they go for mom and her Patriots and Broncos; or follow dad’s preference for his childhood fave the Rams? I just know we would have a million visits to the ER with stitches, and broken bones – we love extreme sports too…

Thanksgiving from my childhood, always involved every single family member we could fit and get to Grandma’s house. Grandma would spend days beforehand making a dozen pies, cookies, salads, vegetables…and all of us, generations – literally, would generally have a blast. I miss seeing how they would be growing up and then I remember, I don’t get to bring my generation to dinner. We only get our kiddos every other holiday (odd years, even years…I can’t keep any of it straight. And you can forget me ever seeing a Mother’s Day or my birthday) – these are the things that seem to still be stopping me up and continue to break my heart. 

Christmas is not a bad time here. We enjoy the festivities and our time with the kids, but I always find myself jumping back to that what if scenario. And follow all of that up with the promises of a new year. I guess I am just still figuring out that losing my children affects me differently day by day; and it still haunts the future I could have had. I won’t ever forget the heartache but in the present, I guess I am getting better. Some days I feel stoic and strong. Other days I feel like a quivering mess of emotions and guilt for feelings that I sometimes wish I had more. I am very blessed with the life I have and I need to work more at remembering that I was a mother once, and I am a stepmother now… that is not only good enough – but better than many in the same situation that I am in. 

A work in progress is what my life is now…

Here is a link to the entire story of Rhys’ life (there are some photos that may disturb sensitive people due to the medical procedures he had done): 

Rhys Tyler Phillips

Marvelling at how little he was and just being able to touch him.

Marvelling at how little he was and just being able to touch him.

rhysplaque

My stepdad had this made in honor of my son; he had an artisan engrave the image and words into a beautiful piece of granite. The artist created the angel’s image and looking at it in person, it favors my son.

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