Losing a child is the loneliest, most desolate journey a person can take and the only people who can come close to appreciating it are those who share the experience. Losing my sons brought an incomprehensible level of pain and grief. A physical heaviness on the chest, a deep ache that brings you to your knees and produces guttural, soundless sobs from deep within your soul. Sometimes I almost become nonchalant about it; it’s been my reality for 6 years. Then something I see or read brings back the reality of it all, and it hits me in the gut, hard. My children died. I birthed them. I held them. I buried them. And the horrifying truth of it floods over me with the nauseating knowledge that this happened, and the grief rushes back with the same force as it did all those years ago. If I really take time to stop and think about that horrendous time in our life, I can still so clearly remember each devastating detail. How I endured 12 hours of labor, knowing that giving birth would mean their death. Hearing the cries of newborn babies around me as I watched my husband hold our dying son in his arms. Leaving the hospital with empty arms. My engorged breasts that cruelly taunted me with milk for babies who were no longer living. How I clutched my empty womb and howled until my eyes were red and swollen, until I could not see through the tears, the pain. I wanted to die, too. Death appeared as a friend, tempting me with the promise of sweet salvation. I did not know how I would make it through each minute, each hour, each day, without my babies. How we clung to each other during the worst moments: registering their births and deaths. Picking out a miniature sized casket. Walking through baby cemetaries – the places of lost dreams and endings that came before beginnings. How do you pick a perfect spot to bury your children? Sitting in a hearse that carried two broken parents and a tiny white coffin. My sons died. It changed our entire lives. Our relationships. Our inner souls. I live with PTSD. Pregnancy announcements will always sting. But the love. Oh, the love. It hurts and it will always hurt because I love them so much. My first boys. My always babies.
We have serious bout of sleep deprivation going on in our household. Luca has never been a good sleeper, and he’s still waking every 3 hours or less during the night. I might have been able to deal with these small chunks of broken sleep, but they’re interspersed with Henry and Everly waking up, too. Hunger, thirst, needing to use the toilet, wetting the bed, nosebleeds, nightmares - being a parent really is a 24/7 job. So all in all, we’re being woken around 7 times each night and never have time to get into that restorative sleep we so desperately need😴 That’s why I treasure the rare moments when I get to put on nice clothes and wear makeup... because 99% of the time I’m walking around half conscious in my milk stained pj’s 🙈 But I try to remember, this too shall pass.
Today our darling Henry turns 5 years old. It feels like such a short time ago that I wrote a blog post on his first birthday all about being a mother (linked in my bio) and now he’s been with us for half a decade. My sweet boy. What an honour it is to be your mother. You grace us daily with your enthusiasm and your kind, loving heart. I’m so proud of the empathetic person you have become. Watching you develop over the past 5 years has been a delight, and I’ve loved witnessing you blossom into a passionately creative person. You adore making music, and you love to draw intricate, wonderful worlds from your imagination. Your creative talent is such a gift; I hope it always brings you the joy it does now. We are so very blessed to have you in our family, my darling boy.
Although the turn of the season will always hold painful memories of the past, I do adore autumn in Virginia. It is so beautiful here, with the rich warmth of the orange and red leaves, mild temperatures and sunny blue skies. I love how so many of our family traditions centre around this season. We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we enjoyed a hayride that bounced along the dirt path to the shrieks of delight and laughter of our children. And then pumpkins, as far as the eye could see, in a field of sunshine. Looking out on the vast landscape reminded me that nature always gives a sense of peace and serenity to the soul. It’s where I feel at home.
Mamas, how often do you have time away from your children? Time to reflect, to practice hobbies, to pursue a passion, or to just simply be the woman you were before becoming a mother? It’s so important to nurture your soul, to take a break from the selflessness that is motherhood, but this is something I really need to work on. Living far away from our families means never having a break. And never having a break is a surefire way of heading towards a breakdown. Those of you who don’t have family nearby to help out, how do you get your alone time?
Sometimes I’m fooled into thinking I’m better. That the turning of the season no longer triggers something deep within my soul, stirring up painful memories of the lead up to losing our twin sons. My days are fine; taking care of three children keeps me busy. But at night, my body betrays my true feelings, revealing the trauma and pain that’s now woven within my core. I wake up to Luca’s cries, and discover, once again, that my body is soaked, my pillow and sheets wet. These night sweats come every October, to remind me of what we lost. Who we lost. But I don’t need reminding... every day is the reality of living without them. Almost six years without my babies, my boys. ~ For anyone else facing a trauma anniversary, I’ve linked to a blog post I wrote a few years ago about ways to cope 💕