Part 2 of the Series on Child Loss. Read part 1 here.
There is a community of mothers who have experienced unimaginable tragedy, the loss of a child. They have been to hell and back and have been forever changed. Three mothers agreed to share their stories and answer our questions candidly and with grace. Their experiences are sure to take your breath away, to inspire you, and to send you running to hug your children and never let them go. We are truly thankful for their courage to speak openly and honestly about the worst day in their lives and the rest of the days that have followed.
Tell us about Cade.
Cade was our first baby who was born March 13, 2014 and lived for about 36 hours. He passed away from a rare genetic disorder that we didn’t know about until he was born. He had been conceived through IVF, so needless to say he had been so wanted for a very long time and his death came at the end of a very long journey that we thought was about over. You can read more about my pregnancy and Cade’s short life on my blog.
Where did you turn for support?
At first I felt hopeless, but it is crazy how word spreads so quick and within days I had people reaching out to me and connecting me with other moms who had lost babies. I just had to talk it out, over and over to someone who could understand what kind of pain I was feeling. I would get coffee or go on walks with these women and just talk through the sequence of events. I needed to just get it out. I needed to hear their stories and let them tell me it would be OK and I would make it through because there were so many days when I truly didn’t believe that I could ever live on. Eventually, we also did the Assistance with Grief program at Swedish Hospital, which was therapeutic. I am still good friends with one of the other moms I met in our group.
You recently gave birth to healthy baby girl, Berkley. Congratulations! What was it like to experience pregnancy, labor, and delivery a second time?
Terrifying!!! I had the best doctors and a lot of extra monitoring, but each day was a mental challenge. I felt like I was running a never-ending marathon. It was a test of patience and faith, to say the least. Not only was I nervous about the condition that Cade had, but I had heard so many other terrible stories, which I also stressed about. With that being said, I do love being pregnant. Berkley was SO active and I felt really good throughout. My husband and I tried to stay positive and keep hope that we would bring a baby home.
People often fear bringing up the loss of a child because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. What do you wish people would say about Cade?
I want people to talk and ask me about him, rather than avoid it altogether. It is actually really hurtful when people that know about Cade act like Berkley is our first baby. I had someone ask me about his memorial weekend and I was just so appreciative of her bringing him up. It’s not something that people should feel bad about. A mom who has lost her child is already thinking about them all the time, so it’s actually very comforting to know others are still thinking about them too.
What is the best thing a friend or family member can do to support you?
Literally just being there-all the time. I had a few friends that literally never stopped checking in with me for months. You get so much support up front and then everyone starts to move on and you are left in this place of grief, which is a very lonely state of mind. I remember feeling so down after a trip we took over July 4th and literally thinking to myself that no one remembered me (yes-it was definitely a pity party). Checking the mail that day, I got two cards from two separate people just telling me how much they were thinking of me and praying for us and it was seriously the best thing ever.
Other than being there, I would also say to friends and family that NOT trying to make it all better is sometimes the best thing you can do. You get so many phrases like, “God has a plan” or “I know you will have a baby in the future” or “Cade is an angel in heaven.” Blah blah blah. All I wanted was someone to look me in the face and tell me that my situation completely sucked and it was terrible and that they didn’t know why it happened to me and they couldn’t imagine what I was going through. I wanted people to realize the truth of my situation versus trying to make things better.
Why do you feel it’s important to share your story?
When Cade passed, my husband told me that we were experiencing something that thousands of other couples experienced every year. That was comforting to think about- we weren’t the only ones out there, but at the same time, no one really talks about it! I just feel like maybe one of the reasons I have been through this is to help others who are going through it too. With social media it’s hard to get a true picture of what is happening because people tend to share the good stuff. I am doing my best to try to share what is real.
**We encourage you to check out Emily’s Blog, here. She is incredibly candid about her difficult journey and her blog is truly inspiring.