This is a not so happy Fathers Day.  It is my first Fathers Day as a father, but I have no child to celebrate with.  My only daughter, Samantha Jean, didn’t make it to term.  My wife went to the doctor for a routine pregnancy checkup and they couldn’t find a heartbeat.  She called me and I left work.  We went home and packed a few things to take to the hospital.  Labor was induced and after being in the hospital for over 24 hours, our little girl was born on January 27th, 2011.  She weighed 2.4 ounces and was about 6 inches long.  She had all her tiny fingers and toes.  She even had fingernails about the size of the tip of a ball-point pen.  She was about 4 months past conception when she passed.

We got to spend that night and the next day with our baby beside us in that hospital room.  We imprinted her handprint and footprint into a little piece of clay.

Our local Catholic Cemeteries offer a ministry to cover the cost of burial and services for people going through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death.  We took them up on their offer and it has been very helpful to us on our path to healing.  There were about 25 little ones buried with our little girl.  It was quite an experience sharing a funeral service with the families of those 25 children.  The cemetery also has a healing garden where berieved parents and siblings can go and pray and meditate and remember.  There is a memorial wall where you can have your child’s name engraved.  We chose to do that.

A few weeks after the service, we were asked if we would be willing to share our story in the Catholic Cemeteries’ newsletter and we said that would be fine.  Here is a link to the online version of the newsletter if you are interested.  Scroll to the bottom of the second page.

I’ve spent the past few weeks pondering how my life has changed since this happened.  Life is more precious.  I put more focus on having experiences.  I spend less time waiting and watching life go by.  I feel things more.  I never thought I’d want to change a diaper or wake up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby, but I never got the chance.  I often think about what her voice sounds like and having tea parties in the back yard and poking fun at her first boyfriend and walking her down the aisle, but none of these things will ever happen.

Children — celebrate your father.  Fathers — celebrate your children.  When you get that ugly tie your kid made in art class, wear it with pride.  They are only young once, so savor the moment.

 

February 4- 

     In theory this should be a wonderful day.  It’s my birthday.  However under the circumstances, it’s not really on my radar.  It is my opening shift at work, so I fall into my “normal” morning routine.  I get into the door at work and back to my classroom.  All is okay until I turn the lights on and look up.  Then the tears start flowing.  While I was gone, Natalie had all my kids help create a large birthday banner (which mind you, is now folded and crammed in one of the keepsake boxes).

      As I stand there in silence, taking it all in, and opening my room, thankfully Sherry walked in.  She gave me a big hug and a card, and helped me open the rooms.  We didn’t say much, but that was okay.  A little while later Katie came in, gave me a big hug and said “happy birthday”.  She asked how I was doing and I said alright.  I know today is going to a little on the tough side. 

    The day went on “normal like”, with moments of sheer overwhelmingness.  But, I made it through.  Upon getting home I had a stack of cards to open.  This will be a day I will never forget.  Not everyone can that, for every birthday card they open on their birthday, they opened a sympathy card as well.   And so went the emotions like a giant teeter totter, up (joy, yeah!  Happy birthday), and then down (slamming hard into the ground… “I’, sorry for your loss).  While reading my email, I found out that my mom had been through a miscarriage.  I was a little frustrated at first that she didn’t say anything when they were up the weekend after it happened.  But later came to the realization that my mom was not only feeling my pain, she was feeling hers own as feelings arose and most likely didn’t know what to say or do.

    It had been such an unusual birthday I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but Raun said we should do something.  So we went out to eat at one of favorite places, The Cheeky Monkey.  With Raun’s gift I decided I was going to buy a memorial necklace, but he said he had a better place to look for one.  So I decided to peruse it later. 

   That night Raun’s mom Barb had driven up for the weekend and she stopped by.  We chatted and opened gifts until it was time to pick my dad, Steve, up from the airport.  He and my mom were down in St. Louise at a Wine Trade Show.  My dad wanted to fly up to be here for the memorial service on Saturday.  My mom was wishing she was able to be there, but someone had to man the booth.  So she sent her thoughts and prayers.  That night, we all stayed up chatting and eating birthday cake.  Then it was to bed and to brace for what tomorrow would bring.

 

January 29-

Woke up, in tears and Raun and I holding each other.  Weekend-Mom Dad Up-Katie stopped in the am with a gift from primrose and Dunn Brothers coffee for us and to see how we were doing also told me that I didn’t need to be back til Thursday and if I wouldn’t be up for that that was okay-psw gave us let’s dish meals to last a lot of meals (as of 2/21 still had stuff left, cause we mixed in cooked meals) a peace lily plant (with dragon fly in it), and cash (we put it towards Samantha’s name being engraved on the wall)-mom and dad came up for the remainder of the weekend, we went to cheeky monkey to eat dinner, talked a little throughout the night

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