I started this blog to connect to my sons in a way that would let me process my grief. I wrote for myself, letting my mind wander and their spirit carry my words until a message wrote itself, challenging a real-world honest message. A lot of the things I’ve written recently have been inspired by things people have experience around us and I relate closely to… but it’s time to bring something back for myself.
I miss the naivety of getting pregnant that first time. The fear that something could happen but never that we’d have gone through the things we have. I miss the reveals and games that come along with it. Cassy and I put so much thought into how we told all of our family we were pregnant with Luke. Prego (spaghetti sauce) jars, nesting dolls, the ol’ bun in the oven… we pulled out all the stops. Christmas is her absolute favorite time of year and we made an announcement photo in front of the mantle. It’s hard for me to remember a happier time. Who knew that two months later we would lose our first child at sixteen weeks and then another thirteen months after that.
When we found out we were pregnant with Jonah, we were so protective of everything. Cassy is pretty introverted to begin with and having to tell people we lost Luke destroyed us both – we didn’t want to have to go through everything again if something happened to Jonah. We created a private group on Facebook for our family and selected friends, gradually inviting more people as things changed with his Trisomy diagnosis – it became an easier way to inform people about what we were going through without having to get into it in the real world when it was hard enough to hold ourselves together. We fought so hard to decide to do as much as we could for him while he was still with us. When we thought we were in a secure enough place to not see people we knew, we took little freedoms like having a baby on Cassy’s Halloween skeleton shirt… It seems like such a small, happy thing but it took so much effort on our part to be comfortable with it. Cassy got to have a small baby shower and we had clothes for him in case he was able to come home. The nursery wasn’t 100% put together but it was more than ready to be used if we were fortunate enough to bring him home with us. As I’ve said many times now, that wasn’t how things unfolded. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m also mourning the innocence we lost when we lost Luke, and the chance to have that with any future children we’ll have.
For my friends who have been fortunate enough to experience parenthood without loss, look back and relive the memories you made. Pull out the photos or tell stories to your kids about the ways you celebrated them. Enjoy the innocence of those days and show them how loved they were before you had even met them.
For my friends who are pregnant now and looking forward to seeing their little one, remember exactly how things are right this moment. Take your weekly pictures and write down all the little things like your cravings or things people say. Don’t hold anything back – you’re going to want to look back and smile because you loved your child more than you knew you could love someone you’ve never met. You’re going to want to remember how you did all the things you wanted to and did them your way. This is your experience.
And for my friends who have found a loss almost as deep as their love, I hurt with you. The pain is excruciating and I’ve never felt so alone in all my life. Lean on people who love you at your weakest, because they are the ones who will rebuild your foundation with you. You will become stronger than you ever knew you could, and it’s because of the love you had – and continue to have – for the ones you lost.
Through everything we experienced together, our marriage is stronger than ever because we were as honest in our heartbreak as we were in laughter. If I had the chance to swap everything with Luke and Jonah for a living, breathing child today I would still choose them, because I am theirs just as much as they are mine. I loved them every day they were with us, and I have loved them every day since. It hurts, but I wouldn’t be the man I am without being their father first. I have faith that I’ll have more chances to be a father to children I can teach things to and shape into strong men and women, because my story isn’t finished yet. Today is another day to be thankful despite all of the obstacles that come up.
Be present and pay attention to all these little things – you’ll realize later they were big things.