Five years ago to the day, we sat in this room, our apartment with Ruthie Lou. The couch has changed, the room has not. At the time, Ruthie Lou's neurologist didn't think she would survive through the night so she captured this photo, in the case that it was the only family picture we would possess outside the hospital walls. She lived another 12 days.
Yesterday we walked through those doors again, this time with our family now complete with our two beautiful boys. When we stepped in those doors at George Mark the first time, it was to say goodbye to our girl, we knew why we were there, we were bidding our baby farewell. The most beautiful time in her life was there, it is her home and we will always remember the importance of GMCH, in our life and in our healing.
But this time we went to introduce her littlest brother to the George Mark family, to share the love that he has brought into our life as well. Adam is now older than his big sister will ever be, he has surpassed her 33 days. To hold him, healthy, growing, changing and thriving, reminds me of all the things I missed with his sister and how fleeting my time with her really was. When she was living, time stood still, the world stopped moving and her brief lifetime changed mine. But now, 5 years later it seems like I have lived someone else's life, with only the heartache of missing her to remain.
For the first time, Reid asked to see the apartment that we shared with his sister and we sat on the same couch that we held Ruthie Lou on, but now with her two brothers. It was bittersweet, the closest that we would all be together as one family. These pictures of our family and with our children are sacred to me, sitting in the same spaces sharing our pure love for them. My only wish is always that they could all be in the same picture mfor real.
I love our family. I love the life I now live but it will forever be missing a third of my heart, the part reserved for my babies. The missing never leaves, the wondering never stops, and as I watch my boys and the children I'm surrounded with-I always ache for the daughter I'll never see grow.
My smile is true, I live in this moment, but the pain of living without my child is real every day.
He's here, he's here, he's here! Adam Waid Lands is here!
This sweet little boy that I felt grow inside me arrived July 27th at 9:58am. Weighing 8lbs 14oz & 20 1/2 inches, he's the perfect mix of brother and sister- the spitting image of his brothers size and his sisters sweet profile.
I still can't believe he's here, that 40 weeks have passed and we did it! He did it! He made it to us, safely, healthy, whole and alive. I can breathe freely now.
His pregnancy (falling four years after his sister died) has allowed much of our life to return to normalcy, not the normal it was before Ruthie Lou, but the normal that we have grown to know and be grateful for. But that said, my fears felt so much greater this pregnancy. The combination of Ruthie Lou dying and Reids delivery being traumatic, left so much fear of the unknown as we waited to see if Adam would survive pregnancy, then survive birth, and be born to us healthy with all his chromosomes. It was a huge and heavy burden to bear, all while creating a space of peace and faith for him to flourish inside me.
Chris and I process our grief so differently. We were both just waiting for our boy to arrive to exhale. It's hard to feel your own feelings, all while allowing space for your partner to do the same, and doing so with patience. Both of us were unable to really tend to the other, except for supporting each other from afar. Even saying we were scared that Adam might die felt like tempting fate.
This pregnancy was private. We never announced that we were expecting. Although my belly was a walking billboard, unless you saw me, it was not something I wanted to talk about other than a select few who probably heard my worries more times than not. I can't explain why, other than I was holding my breath and it took all my strength to maintain my emotional sanity in this pregnancy, that I couldn't dare speak about it publicly.
I am happy that I held Adam quietly inside me, it felt safe. He felt safe. We have lived in the public eye so much with Ruthie Lou and in our love obsession of Reid, it felt good to hold this baby close before he met the world.
Adam felt different than his siblings. Like them, he is so sweet, but he also holds such a gentle presence. He seems like one of those strong silent types that goes with the flow but when they speak up, you listen because they're only expressing them self when it's truly important.
His story is completely different than his siblings. I was so certain he would come early as his brother and sister did. I never considered the alternative of going full term. I expected his labor to mirror theirs too, and imagined what that would feel like for the third time, but that never happened. I worried that his delivery would be as scary as theirs, was but it was the most beautiful of all deliveries, even in a surgical operating room. I thought I would feel crazy for lack of sleep but instead, other than sore from a poor latch, he spends all days nursing and most of the night sleeping.
He is nothing as I expected, and everything I could have ever wanted.
I love Adam.
Today is marked as International Bereaved Mothers Day and I just don't identify with it. I am a mother. Period. The moment a woman decides they want to be a mom, the day she starts preparing her body to create another, she becomes a mom. When that baby is in her belly, she is a mom. When that baby is born, she is a mom. If that baby dies, she continues to be a mom. We are all different, special, unique mothers, some with our babies in our arms, some with our babies in our hearts and some with our babies in our hopes and dreams.
While I was pregnant with Ruthie Lou and even before either of my children were born, I wanted to be acknowledged on MOTHER'S Day, the day for moms. We are all already so diverse and unique in our journeys to become moms, what type of mothers we are and how we parent, that having an entire day to separate those who are bereaved the takes away from the inclusion that I want to feel on Mother's Day. I want to be acknowledged for all of my children on Mothers Day, I don't want to be made to feel different because one of my children died. It is already isolating enough to be a bereaved parent, I don't want to then also be highlighted for the fact that my child died when what I really want people to remember about Ruthie Lou is that she lived, that I am proud of her, the ultimately SHE made me a mom. She made my dreams come true, and although this is not what u ever would've wished for, I want her story to be one of love, not a sadness.
There was a time when the narrative in my head was that I was the mom whose baby died, I couldn't see beyond that pain. As time has progressed and I have worked and worked and worked my grief, that is no longer the story I live. I don't know anyone whose life has turned out exactly as they imagined it, without loss, without sadness, or grief. There will always be parts of our life that we wish were different, but I don't let that consume me, instead I let it create me. I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a writer, an athlete, a lover of life and in all of those parts of me there are stories that I have lived, good and bad and I choose to learn from all of them.
I am a survivor. I live a full life. I am living the life I always wanted, even with this broken heart forever missing my child. I am living this life to the best of my ability because of my love for her, for my family, for myself.
As a mom whose child died, I already feel on the outside of those who can hug all their babies at night-I don't want a separate day acknowledging my child died, I want her celebrated each and every day because she lived. She is always included in our family every day, please remember include her in your well wishes to me next Sunday, on Mothers Day too.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.