My Son Was Stillborn

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I can say that out loud now. I can’t  guarantee my voice won’t quake, or that my eyes won’t water up. But I can share my story now. It’s been hard, I wasn’t ready for those conversations. I’ve never lost anyone I was close to. I’ve had relatives pass away, acquaintances, but not a close family member. I’ve lost pets that I was closer too than I was most people.

Until William. I didn’t even really know William. I never saw him smile or heard him laugh. He never saw my face. He never lived outside of my body.  He and I knew each other on a different level and his death was the most emotionally and physically  painful thing I’ve ever experienced.

At times I wanted to die with him. I’m grateful for my husband and children who helped me through it. It hurt. I cried randomly for months. Still do.  They say it gets easier, I think you just get use to this new you.

Its less common now, but it still happens that I run into someome I haven’t seen for a while and they ask about the baby. I recall one day about a month after William was still born I was checking out at a store I shop at regularly. After I had paid another cashier saw me and said hello and asked me if I had a boy or a girl. I literally just walked out, knowing if I said a word I would have broken down. I apologized to her the next time I saw her.

When I do tell people he was stillborn they offer sympathy and apologize for bringing it up. I appreciate the sympathy but I don’t ever want William to be forgotten or to be a tabu subject.

I wanted to do something to remember William since the day of his stillbirth. A year before William a friend lost her babies shortly after birth. I watched and observed it all and took everything in. I was deeply affected by her losses. When I lost William I knew the things I wanted to do. Be sure to get lots of photos. Foot prints. A foot and hand cast. Things that are time sensitive. When you are holding a stillborn most parents don’t even think about photos or think they will be too emotionally painful to take. Or that they are morbid. As soon as William was born the nurse called the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer as we had talked about it that day during labor. They did a foot and hand cast which didn’t take unfortunately. We got his footprints. I wish I had gotten his hand prints and for some reason we didn’t. But I have a ton of photos of him that we took that day. And some beautiful ones the photographer took. We also have some other sentimental items.

I wanted to do a few other things. I couldn’t bring myself to it.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But I couldn’t do it. I was held back by my emotional walls. It wasn’t time. I knew that. But I felt guilty about it.

William’s things sit above my bed in a special place. I have some items I brought home from the hospital. He was buried in the special outfit and blanket I bought him and we returned or donated the rest.  The children like to take care of his gravesite, which is on our property. I walked up there a few times but never made it to his spot. They have told me about it. Under a beautiful cedar tree. My husband says sometimes he finds little toys and decorations up there. It’s really sweet.

A few months ago I was up on the hill helping with a project. My husband reminded me William was just past the bend. I still wasn’t ready. I need to be. I tell myself “damn it, just go already!” But I didn’t go.

One year and 9 months exactly. Not planned. Just coincidence. But I went up there. I have wanted to plants flowers for him, it was my intention from the beginning. My family offered to do it for me, but I wanted to do it myself. This was his gravesite that day I finally went.

Zachary made the sign the day they buried William. I will have the stone carved one day. They aren’t anything special to begin with but they were chosen for him, and they are his now. I felt sadness and peace. Joe and I went shopping and bought plants, and garden stones. I cried almost the entire time.

We planted a shrub on the back side of the grave and some sprawling perennials on the top.

We recently made some changes on the homestead layout and with my emotional healing I’m able to visit Willams grave more. It’s an important part of my journey to find my peace.  Being able to create a space for William myself has been therapeutic for me. With my other issues nearly resolved I’m able to work through the emotional trauma I’ve endured the past few years.

I also have something special planned for his second birthday coming up in July. The more things I do, the more at peace I feel. I still miss him every day. His presence is missed by all of us.

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