Confessions from a Childless Mother

They say the anticipation is the best part. I’d probably have to disagree.

I can’t decide which was the worst day of my life – the day that my baby daughter died in my arms or the day I found out that she would.

Let me back up a little bit. Halloween 2009 I found out I was pregnant with our first child and told my husband he was going to be a Daddy by dressing up as a pregnant lady. The exciting news was dampened when less than a week later my beloved aunt and uncle were instantly killed in a semi-truck accident. “Luckily” I could play off the morning sickness as depression (or visa versa depending on the audience).

I spent the next few months walking the tightrope of excitement and heartache. Celebrating a new life while mourning the loss of others. As my belly grew so did the need to prepare. My husband and I bought a new house for baby… The day we moved in we went in for a routine ultrasound and heard the words no parent should have to hear. “Something’s not right, let me call the doctor.”

What was probably five minutes felt like five hours. The doctor didn’t really know what our baby’s issues were until after she was born two weeks later. All we really knew, at the time, was that she wouldn’t be able to survive on her own after birth for very long, but we wouldn’t really know more until she was here.

So, we waited, and prepared our hearts and our home as much as possible.

The day came. We couldn’t wait any longer – our baby, Madelyn, needed to make her entrance into the world. We were scheduled for a c-section the next day. Still in a haze from the news we checked into the hospital and prepared for the worst (hoping for the best).

Surrounded by family, Madelyn was born at 4:03pm May 19th, 2010 – a happy baby girl. If only she could have been healthy too. Maddie was held her entire life. Everyone that could loved on her, kissed her, told her stories. There were only tears of joy that day.

The next day, May 20th, 2010, is that day that still haunts me. Through the fog of the “really good drugs” I felt that little bitty life slip through my arms. Her beautiful tiny fingers and toes turned purple and cold. Finally, they took my Madelyn away from me for the last time. To this day, I still wonder which of my memories were actual memories and which were memories I pieced together from pictures and others’ stories.

We spent the next 2 days in the hospital “healing”, and were finally released – empty handed.

It was time to plan the funeral, something I had become all to familiar with… We spent the next week making decisions that no mother should have to make. My husband was, and still is, my rock. He really did it all – and just brought me along with him.

The funeral was nice – I mean, what else do you say about a funeral? It just… was. We told the only stories we had of her, how we could tell she was going to be feisty like her mama because she would let you know, with a swift kick to my bladder, if she liked what you were reading/singing/saying. We knew Green Eggs and Ham was her favorite book, and we knew she was more loved than any baby ever could be.

Family members went above and beyond to share their love. Her grandpa, a woodworker, built her beautiful baby coffin. People brought every picture ever taken of her and made sure we had at least two copies of each. A sweet memorial display was created with pictures and things we had of her.

And just like that, the blessing we had wished and waited for, for so long, was gone. Almost like a dream. Sometimes I wonder if it was…

Then came the hard part - finding answers, finding reasons, finding a way to go on… I think we saw more doctors and specialists after Madelyn’s death than before. Finding out her cause of death was hard, realizing that it was I – HER OWN MOTHER – that gave her the genetic condition which caused her death was devastating.

We were determined to give Madelyn siblings and spent the next 4 years using every advancement science had to offer in hopes of growing our family. Three extensive rounds of IVF later and Madelyn remains an only child.

So, in 2015 I began a journey to find my new normal, my new happy, and move forward with my life. I woke up one morning and realized that I’d been living in a holding pattern – waiting {and wishing} for the next chapter of our life to begin… And, I realized I couldn’t continue to live my life waiting to die.

At that point, a switch flipped. I began leaving the house because I could – not just because I had to. I started going to the gym – not actually to work out but because it was a place, outside of the house, I could go where I didn’t actually have to shower or get dressed, and no one would talk to me. It was a start.

It wasn’t until the concept and mission of Sharing Solace hit me like a bolt of lightning that I really begin to live again.

Sharing Solace is a community for those who are grieving. While we all grieve for different reasons and in different ways, the thought of hope, solace, and finding peace ultimately brings us together. Sharing Solace provides tangible, meaningful gifts for the newly grieving and an online support community... Helping you say the words you don’t know how to say.

Sharing Solace allowed me to speak about my Maddie in a meaningful way (not just a “feel sorry for me” kinda way). It allowed me to put purpose and passion back into my life where there had been nothing but a gaping black whole. And, it allowed me to have a goal – something to work towards – that was greater than me.

I think tragedy is just one of those things that allows you to stop going through the motions and really re-evaluate, well, EVERYTHING. It makes you prioritize what is important in your life and sweep the rest away. It allows you to take inventory of the people in your life and determine if they are worthy to be there.  My tragedy is one of the greatest, most impactful events of my life, it shaped me into the person I needed to be. I wouldn’t wish THAT on my worst enemy, but for those who have experienced a similar tragedy, we have each other, Sharing Solace.

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Crystal W.Comment