Someone once suggested that maybe my son was an actual angel sent to change my life, to help me out of the deep, dark hole I’d dug for myself, and that’s why he didn’t stay for long. He taught me so much in his ten short months in my arms. He taught me that I don’t need drugs and alcohol to mask my pain, that I can be happy sober. He taught me what love really feels like. Real, pure, unconditional love. He taught me that I can be loved by someone good, and what if feels like to be loved most. And he taught me what real fear and heartbreak are. Fear not the demon hiding in the dark, or that a lover is cheating. Heartbreak is not a boyfriend leaving for someone younger and prettier. I have never experienced the oxygen-vacant fear I felt before the morning I found him in his crib and turned him over. I have never felt heartbreak as I did when I realized I was far, far too late. As I write this, I feel like I’m reliving that morning… The phone call to 911, carrying his body downstairs, the paramedics and the cops, the moment they told me they couldn’t do anything. This is a nightmare I never thought I would have to live through.
But what if he really was an angel sent to help me? I don’t think that’s possible, as angels don’t have souls. That would mean my son has no soul and that can’t be possible. But I think he was sent to change my life. I saw no way out until he was in my belly. Even then, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to be a good mom. Not because I thought I’d turn back to drugs or anything, but I just didn’t feel capable of taking care of such a tiny, important little person of my very own when I hadn’t even been able to properly take care of myself for so long. But I did it. I wasn’t perfect, but we love each other more than I ever thought possible. I wonder if he remembers me? I wonder if he sees me missing him? I wonder if he misses me? I wonder how long I have to wait to hold him again? It has been 114 days and about 15 hours, 21 minutes since I last held him alive.
Triggers are weird. Sometimes, they’re exactly what you’d expect them to be, like the photo I wrote about in my last post or a movie that has a baby dying in it. Of course those things are going to make you feel like someone just rammed a hot poker through your chest. But some of them are so unexpected and when they blindside you, it feels like an attack as you’re simply going about your day. For me, seeing those packages of pre-cooked sliced chicken or turkey sets me off. I’d bought a couple of those for Daxon as he began preferring food he could pick up himself and chew. A few days after he died, I noticed a package at the back of the fridge. It sat there for a long time. I couldn’t throw it out. I guess Dan must have, eventually. There’s still a pear in there that I bought for him. I’m sure it’ll sit there until it goes bad and Dan tosses it out, too. I just can’t do it, silly as it sounds. That is my son’s pear. Sometimes, I’ll just be sitting in the tub and suddenly start bawling because I remember lying him on my chest when he was tiny and we would bathe together. He would get hungry and I’d breastfeed him right there in the bathtub. That’s one of the things I miss most – bathtime. Especially when he got older and discovered bath toys. Seeing those in stores sets me off. My mom said it’s strange things that set her off, as well. I thought being around my friends’ kids would be difficult, but for the most part, it actually seems to help a bit. Only in short burts, though, or my anxiety builds and I just want to hold my own baby and I feel like I’m going to crack. I know everyone says it’s okay to not be okay and to cry, but I still feel awkward letting go and I know it makes everyone else feel that, too.
This pregnancy is almost a constant trigger. I remember how Dax felt the first time he kicked, how his footbecame lodged in one spot below my rib age for the last couple months and it drove me crazy, how I’d rub my belly and imagine all the amazing things we would do, who he might be, what kinds of things he might be into. I don’t think I’ve done that even once with this baby, now that I think of it… I feel guilty for it. But then when I do focus on the new baby, I also feel guilty, like I’m trying to replace Dax. I’m sure I’ll love this baby, too, even if it takes a bit longer, but I know there will probably be so many triggers along the way. All of the firsts Dax and I had are going to be replayed in only a few months and I’m sure they’re going to cut deep. I only hope that, by that time, those things that remind me of Daxon will make me smile rather than cry.
December 25, 2015. The day my baby was born.
I always thought of PTSD only as something people in the military experienced. Diving for the ground when a vehicle backfires or someone sets of fireworks, waking up in the night, sweating and screaming, hearing bombs and gunshots where there are none. I’m beginning to understand mine. I thought all of this was just grief, but my therapist tells me it is quite different.
Last night, I was browsing through Facebook before bed and I saw this article about funny breastfeeding mishaps which was accompanied by a couple of photos, before you even open the link. One of the photos was of a baby’s face that was all discoloured, like blood had pooled in certain places… It looked far to similar to Daxon’s on the morning I found him and I was instantly sobbing uncontrollably. It felt like I’d just found him all over again and I had to relive that horrible day. Horrible day…that doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. There are no words to describe the nightmare of that day. Every adjective diminishes the true horror I felt. I still feel. There was a short period where I was mostly able to block those images out, of him lying face down in his crib, of how his body felt in my arms, of the smell of his vomit as I made the futile attempt at performing CPR on his mottled little face…. But now I see it all the time again. For the last week or so, I see these things out of nowhere and I just want to die.
I can’t finish this right now…
I’ve been slowly realizing lately that the rest of my life will forever be shrouded in darkness. I feel that, even as I heal and my life begins to seem full again, even on those sunny days full of love and laughter, there will always be a dark blue cloud of sorrow hovering nearby. I’ve connected with a few other moms who have lost their babies to SIDS and they all say the same thing: it will always hurt…but it will get easier. One woman said that, even 25 years later, she still regresses into denial. That it can’t be real, her baby can’t really be gone, he has to come back, there must be something she hasn’t tried. I was feeling like that for a few days last week. I have a lot over the last three months, honestly. I feel like I haven’t done enough, like I should be working harder to bring my baby home even though I know there is no way. I feel like I have failed my son.
I saw both my doctor and my grief councillor yesterday. I had my first prenatal physical. When the doctor got out the Doppler, I was excited at first. My boyfriend was there with me to hear the heartbeat and he had my phone out to record it. We sat there for so long… I watched her face as she searched across my abdomen and belly for the familiar fast-paced heartbeat of a tiny baby in utero. Every so often, we could hear mine. As time went on and she searched and searched, it sped up. I was holding back tears as my throat closed up in pre-meditated anguish. She was going to say it soon, I knew it. She was going to say, “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.” But she didn’t. The relief I felt when that 150 bpm heartbeat came from the speaker was like a blade being pulled from my heart. I have been (and still am) terrified of losing this baby, before or after birth. If that should happen, I will need to be committed. I do not want to kill myself, as I’ve explained before. I need to be with my babies when I die. But in that situation…I may not be able to stop myself.
I told my grief councillor this that same day. This was only the second time I’ve seen her, but she is extremely understanding. For a reason I don’t recall, she brought in a physician to this appointment to observe. At first, it was a little awkward, but I talked to the therapist as I would have otherwise. When I mentioned the guilt I have felt for not checking on Dax before I went to bed, especially since my boyfriend put him to sleep on his stomach (which he had been rolling onto lately anyway), the physician interjected and relieved a lot of my guilt. She told me that, unless I was there right at the moment it was happening, there is nothing I could have done. Even if I had checked on him, it could have happened two minutes after I left the room or hours later. Or even if it had happened wenty minutes before I checked on him and I was able to save his life, he would have severe, permanent brain damage. My therapist asked me how I felt about that, as I had obviously thought about it before – there are so many what-ifs that circle my mind constantly. Honestly, I’m not sure that would be better than this. Maybe it would be worse. I don’t mean that just because it would be harder and more work, but he wouldn’t even be the same little boy I know I love. He would need help with everything for the rest of his life. I don’t think it’s fair to wish that on my child out of my selfish desire to hold him and have him here. I believe he is safe and loved where he is now and I will continue to pray every night that I may be there with him when this world is done with me, too.
Sometimes I go into his room to feel closer to him. I never thought my little boy could feel so incredibly far away. I had been dreading going back to work because I would have to be away from him and leave him with strangers for hours and hours each day. I was dreading the time he would be done breastfeeding and his father would want to take him overnight or even for weekends. It has now been two months and nine days since I saw my baby alive. Two months and nine days. In the last couple months, I had left him with his father for a few hours here and there. Part of me was happy to have a little bit of a break. I feel so awful saying that now… But a part of me always missed him. I was constantly checking my phone, trying not to text more than once to make sure everything was okay. He is my heart, as I’m sure I’ve said more than once. And now, he is much more than a half hour drive away. I can’t text anyone to see if he’s okay, or go pick him up when he starts missing me and saying “Mum mum mum!” I can’t walk in the door and see his outstretched arms and the pure relief on his face that I’m finally there. I have never felt so unconditionally loved by someone. I have never looked at someone and felt so strongly that my heart would explode within my chest, like I had so much love for that teeny tiny little person, it coundkt possibly all be contained within me.
My life feels so long now. The one thing that has been helping me calm down enough to eventually drift off at night is the thought of us being together again. I imagine his smiling little face and gleeful giggles as I enter Heaven’s gates. Just the face he would make when I opened the door of the truck to take him out. He would kick his little legs in excitement and any crying stopped instantly. I keep promising him I’ll be there with him soon and we’ll be together for eternity. I hope I’m not lying. How could a loving God give me such a perfect little boy, love him with every bit of my soul, take him away after ten months, then not allow us to be together in death? But then again, what kind of mother has her unborn child murdered… I am so afraid. My biggest regret in life is that. It has been since the moment it happened. I cried the second both my babies left my body. Though the second was with tears of pure joy. I am a monster. But can a monster be forgiven once it’s learned to love? If it repents and lives and works to help others from now on? I pray I can be. Every night. I’m not that heinous person I was then. All I care about anymore is being with my babies. The two in Heaven now and this new one, who will hopefully join us after I have gone. I’d like to say I can’t imagine an eternity without Daxon, but I can and it is terrifying. I feel as if I’m already living it. He feels so far away from me… I’m his mommy; he should be in my arms. We should be together. One day…
Every night, I pray to a god that took my baby boy away from me. I’ve asked “why” more times than I can count. I’ve begged for Him to turn back time and give me another chance to be a better mom. I wouldn’t get so annoyed when he’s having a rough day and wants to be held the entire time, I wouldn’t be on my phone at all while he’s awake, I wouldn’t leave him to cry when I got frustrated. I’ve apologized innumerable times for what I did the first time I was pregnant. But that was unforgivable, I think. That is why He took my baby from me, I think. I don’t know how many more times I have to pray for forgiveness, how many more opportunities I need to take to make someone else’s life better, or how long I will have to suffer without my son but I am trying my best. I didn’t kill myself, so I feel like maybe that’s a start. Especially since killing myself would end the life of another tiny baby, as well.
I don’t even feel like I’m alive anymore anyway. There is nothing in my day but pain and longing, with a façade of acceptance and smiles so everyone around me can be okay. In a way, I almost wish I wasn’t pregnant so I wouldn’t have a reason to stay here. That I could walk outside and get in my truck and not care if I get hit by a meandering semi. I could welcome death with open arms and a genuine smile on my face, ready to lift my sweet boy to receive a million kisses and hugs for the rest of eternity. That is probably exactly why I am pregnant. God knows I’ve wanted to die many times in the past. He knew this would kill my heart. Maybe it’s a test, to see if I will let another of my children die at my own hand. To see if I’ve learned my lesson. I have… God, have I ever. My whole life is now dedicated to finding a way back to my little boy. If I have to survive, it’ll be for him and this new baby. I’m so terrified it use won’t be enough… That my time here will end and I’ll move on to the next life, but I won’t be worthy enough to be with him.
I talk to Dax a lot. When I pray, I ask God to let him hear my messages, every time I tell him I love him. I promise him we’ll be together again soon. Nights are the hardest. The house is quiet, my boyfriend is asleep and I’m once again left with my thoughts. I always see him as he was the morning I found him. That’s why I stay awake so late, til 2, 3, 4am. Until exhaustion sets in, it’s either distraction or tears. More often than not, a combination of the two. My boyfriend tells me to lie down and close my eyes and I’ll fall asleep. He doesn’t understand how insane that sounds to me. I have tried that – and ended up lying here for four hours, waiting to sleep, waiting to sleep… He didn’t see what I saw that morning. He didn’t hold his dead baby in his arms. I tried to write more about that morning but I can’t. Just imagining his face that way kills me all over again, a hundred times in a second. This must be what hell feels like.
My mom and aunt said they both dreamt of Dax in Heaven with Auntie Lolo. My aunt dreamt of yellow flowers and he was running toward her, laughing and smiling. Then my mom dreamt of purple flowers and Lolo was catching him and lifting him up.
My son was born Christmas morning last year. He passed away from SIDS on November 2nd this year. My great aunt passed away Christmas Eve a few years ago. Christmas was very hard. My mom kept reminding me that he’s safe and with Auntie Lolo, waiting for me. I told my mom that I’m waiting to die. I’m surviving because I want to go where he is, and because this new baby growing in my belly right now needs me here. I feel so far away from him. My heart feels so far away from me. He had more of my love than I ever even imagined I could be capable of feeling. My little boy was and still is my ray of hope, my reason for being. I saw a tattoo online and, as much as I hate copying tattoos, this one made me cry every time I read it. I can’t even say it out loud without crying. It said “…I am because you were” and I’d like to have a little picture of his favourite stuffed toy, this weird little plaid donkey, at the end of it. He would get so excited and start kicking his legs and smiling when I would give him his donkey to play with in the truck.
I go into his room sometimes. When I need to feel closer to him. When I open the door, all I smell is our old house. The subsidized townhouse we lived in from when he was about a month or two old until I met my boyfriend. We had officially moved in just days before he passed, though we hadn’t slept at our place in over two months and half of his stuff was here. But that smell reminds me of him. Of our time together, just he and I. Of the late nights spent pacing the living room and kitchen or taking a couple steps forward and back in the bedroom to get him to fall asleep. Of sharing my bed with him, the late night feeds where I would just put my breast in his mouth and we wouwill do both drift back to sleep. Of waking up to his beautiful face every single morning, right beside me. I miss a million little things. I have a running list of them I add to from time to time when I think of something he did that I don’t ever want to forget. But it’s everything… I keep running through my mind how each and every part of his tiny little body felt in my hands, how his cheek felt against my lips, his head on my chest and cheek. How he felt in my arms. How he felt leaving my body when I gave birth. I never want to forget. He is my whole heart. If I lose those memories, I’ve lost my heart.