Dear Mac; A Letter To My Stillborn Son, I Am In Control

Dear Mac,

Merry Christmas my sweet boy. Can you feel how much I have been thinking of you lately? Every Christmas, as your Daddy and I shop for your brother’s and sister’s Christmas gifts, I wonder what we would have on our list for you. Would you be a Thomas The Train fanatic like your big brother, obsess over Mickey Mouse like your sister or would it be something completely different, all your own? I daydream of the excitement in your eyes on Christmas morning and how Hagen and Suzie would tell you all they know of Santa and his Reindeer. I imagine your giggle and wiggle with joy as you open your gifts. These sweet daydreams put such a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. But I bet you know that already, don’t you.

I smile although there is a big part of me that longs for these memories I can never have. I believe I always will. No matter how much time expands between today and the day you left us, my tears may visit less frequently, but my grief will never leave. Somehow, I have made peace with this. I feel very blessed to have been able to find this peace. It makes remembering you and all the plans I had for you easier.

The hard part for me is realizing that, although I remember you every day of my life and especially during special times of celebration, others do not. It is hard to believe, but there are actually those that would prefer I go on and never mention you. It has taken me some time to realize and although it is painful for me to accept this, it is the simple truth. As your mommy, this has always been my worst fear. My heart longs for you to be remembered by many, especially those who would have been closest to you.

When I delivered you, I threw myself into as much literature as I could about experiences other women had with their stillborn. I was overwhelmed with sadness as I was experiencing their stories through their own words. I read of a woman, who immediately after giving birth to their stillborn son, was told by her husband to never speak of it again. It wasn’t until her husband passed, many years later, that she was able to let out the pain that she had kept hidden for so long. Can you imagine, Mac? Years. She couldn’t speak of him for years. I think of you every day, all day. I do not mention you every time I think of you, but at least I am able to speak your name and acknowledge you. I couldn’t imagine what she went through. How did she remain silent when the pain was screaming inside her?

Not all stories I read were like this woman’s. I read so many and each one was so different. Some parents went on to be able to share their thoughts and feelings about their stillborn with their families. Others realized it wasn’t this simple. Mac, your story, like all stillborn stories, is sad. There is no simple way to talk about it. I had no idea how lonely it is to be the mother of a stillborn. It is not a subject that is talked about often. This is why they say it is a lonely grief. I don’t know, maybe it is because there really are not a lot of friends and family that have experienced the loss of a baby to understand. Often I hear, “Well, at least you don’t have memories with him.” or “It is probably for the best. You don’t know what would have been wrong with him.” and even “Well, at least you already have kids.” You know what I feel like saying in response to these ignorant statements… “I’d like to think I would have loved him no matter how the good Lord gave him to me. Right?! I mean you are an a_ _ hole, but I still want you in my life.” I know, Mac, I know. That isn’t kind hearted. It is just that it is so infuriating to me that people think this kind of talk is reassuring. This is when I recognize that I need to take a step back.

It is in these moments, I have to remember that although I do not have control over what other people think, feel, say or do. I DO have control over what I do, think, say and feel. It doesn’t always work out, but I really try to take a deep breath and remember that although what they said was completely oblivious to my feelings, it was the best they could do in that moment. The truth is, they may be hurting for me and reaching for anything to say that they feel might comfort me. Ugh, they might be way off, but their intensions are likely in the right place. Mac, as your mommy, this is hard. I just want to grab them, shake them and scream at them until they know how hurt I am that they don’t know what losing you feels like. Then I wise up and realize it won’t happen. I am in this one on my own. Your daddy knows, you know, but there really isn’t another that would realistically understand. That is a rough pill to swallow, my son.

But, as I said, Mac, your mommy is strong. I am doing this. I am keeping the promise I made to you- to help others going through similar experiences by telling our story. I will continue to ask people to remember you, even if it is painful. I will continue to make your heavenly birthday an important day for those that would have been closest to you. A day that they should remember- not just because I need them to, but because other parents of stillborn babies need them to as well. I will be strong for you, my baby. I can’t promise I won’t cry if it gets difficult, but I promise to not let the difficulties stop me. I love you, sweet boy. If you would, I believe you have some connections 😉 please put in a good word to the big man upstairs for me. I need His help with the work He wants me to do here.

Love You to the Moon and Back,

Mommy

My Advice and Insights To You

To my fellow angel moms and dads:

 

I want you to remember something, nobody knows your grief like you. You may not hear the words of comfort you long for. Those you love may disappoint you a time or two in the way they handle or react to your grief. At times, they may unknowingly hurt you with their reactions or lack there of. There will be situations in which you can’t help but think of your angel, however, others may miss this entirely. There might be an anniversary, holiday, or family function where not one family or friend says your angel’s name. Prepare yourself for this.

Here is what I need you to understand- You have no control over this. The only control you have is over your own reactions and perceptions. You choose to either allow it to hurt you or to accept that although it hurts, it is not a measure of how special your angel is. You know full well the love you have and the pain that comes with this loss. Not another person has to validate it.

Does it hurt that you don’t have your angel as you had planned?

Yes, it does.

Does it hurt that nobody will ever know the depth of your hurt?

It absolutely does.

Are you grieving any less if another doesn’t acknowledge your feelings or understand what you are feeling?

Not one bit.

Does your baby matter any less because someone spews out ignorance rationalizing the reason why you don’t have your baby?

Nope, not in the least.

Are you strong enough to carry this grief?

Yes…yes, you are.

So, the next time you find yourself allowing another’s words or actions to sting…

You need to repeat after me:

“Words or lack there of, do not lessen my grief nor do they take away from my loss. -it is real.

It runs deep and I am allowed to hurt.
I have a right to grieve in any way I choose.

I am in control of my reactions and responses.

I can choose to not allow them to hurt me.”

Stay positive. Always remember YOU are in control and you will get through this. You ARE allowed to talk about your baby. I encourage you to- it helps.

 

To those who know a believing parent:

I need you to understand something. You may think you know how the bereaved parent feels… you don’t.

You may think you have the right to tell them what they can and cannot do… you don’t and you can’t.

There will be times when you don’t want to hear about their baby… listen anyway.

You may think they are overly sensitive about the loss… they are not.

You might get uncomfortable or feel a tug at your heart strings when they get emotional…. deal with it.

You might be afraid to mention their baby’s name… do it.

This holiday season is hard for those who have lost a loved one. Remember, even if you haven’t met, held or even knew of their baby, it was/is still a baby. A life that mattered, especially to the parents that imagined a life with that baby.

We plan for our baby, prepare for our baby and then do not get to leave the hospital with our baby. Acknowledge this baby because one moment of discomfort for you can mean a world of comfort for them.

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