Two weeks ago, on March 2, my husband and I lost our baby. He was 18 weeks old and was stillborn in the hospital. I’ve thought long and hard about how I want to write about this traumatic event in our lives, and I don’t want to write about it in a depressing context.
In the days following, life was a blur and time became a contradiction. Everything seemed to move in slow motion, yet the world continued spinning rapidly around us. In between bouts of crying and anxiety, I told my husband I did not want to think of our son William only in death. I didn’t want to associate his name and face with the worst day of our lives. The last thing I would want for my son would be that his short life be part of the darkest time in ours. Our little boy brought us so much light, love, and happiness, and that is how we choose to remember him.
After coming to this conclusion, my husband and I had many conversations in which we discovered so many things that William had taught us in his life and even in his death. It was one of my greatest fears in moving forward with our lives that William would be forgotten. I was utterly distraught at the idea that he never left a mark on the world or a legacy.
But he did.
William not only brought us the most joy we had ever felt but he taught us so many lessons that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
1. Appreciate every moment you are given and every person you love
It sounds like a cliche thing to say, and sounds the same as “live in the present, enjoy the moment,” etc. But, if William’s too-short life taught me anything, it’s the fragility of myself and everyone else, especially my loved ones.
I had terrible anxiety about losing my husband after William died, feeling like death must be following me around like a dementor. But, this anxiety has also taught me to truly appreciate every moment I have with him, and everyone I love.
It’s impossible to know the future, but we have now. Every morning that I wake up and look at the person I love most in the world sleeping soundly next to me, I thank God for that moment and him.
Life is inexplicable, scary, crazy, exciting, sad, and all kinds of other feelings wrapped up into one big roller coaster and we experience it all. As human beings, we have to appreciate every part of life because we are lucky enough to live it. My little boy was not lucky enough to know the experiences of the world we inhabit, and I would never forgive myself for letting life pass me by as if it’s not a miracle.
2. Let go of control in life; you can only control your reaction
I’ve spent my entire life planning, organizing, making lists, and trying to control every aspect of things that happened.
When the ultrasound technician told me our baby didn’t have a heart beat, I was in shock. How could it be? I had all the growth apps on my Ipad, I had a pregnancy Pinterest board, I had read all the books, I had done research on the best strollers and cribs, I had bought the cutest outfits. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t in my plan. I had planned to have a baby and that was it; I decided I would have him.
We even got pregnant the first month of trying. When I took a test too early, my husband wasn’t surprised at the negative result. But, I told him I would just keep taking tests until I got a positive, and that is what happened. It never occurred to me that I might not be pregnant; I planned to be.
In the two weeks since we lost our beautiful boy, I’ve made peace with the fact that life is not in my control. I couldn’t control my baby’s heart beat, and I can’t control any other events that may come my way. The only thing I can decide on is the choices I make and the reactions I have to things.
I could let losing my son ruin my life. I could sit on my couch in sweat pants, crying everyday while the world turned without me. Or, I can summon every ounce of strength I have in me and move forward toward happiness, goals, and better days.
William taught me that I can allow traumatic events to make me weaker or stronger. The choice is mine, and I choose strong.
3. The world is a beautiful place if you choose to see it
It would be easy to see the world as a negative place where only bad things happen when someone you love dies, but also from reading the news.
My grief in the first week was such that I felt like bad things were happening to me. I was jealous looking at happy people, especially pregnant women or couples with children. I couldn’t understand why our baby was taken away when he was so loved and wanted, while abusive people easily have healthy children. I felt angry at God or whatever being may be up there. The more negative I felt, the more I feared attracting countless more negative things.
One particularly bad morning in which we had to pick up William’s ashes from the crematorium, we came home to so many sweet messages, cards, flowers, chocolates, and even brownies. The kindness I felt coming from all the people around us made me realize how much love surrounds us. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and we felt incredibly loved.
William’s death showed us that even in the darkest moments in our lives, there was still radiant, loving light. There are ugly things in the world, but there is even more beauty.
William was only in our lives for 18 weeks but he will be in our hearts forever. I will live everyday of my life for him, and I will carry these lessons in honor of him.