Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This week has been really difficult. It was one month ago today that I heard the haunting words from my midwife as she choked back tears: "I'm so sorry, Courtney. Your baby is dead."
I feel like the acute sting of Zachary’s death is starting to wear off, and it’s being replaced with an even more horrific pain that I have no idea how to handle. It feels like a decay of my heart has set in. In the beginning, I had no choice but to let the tears flow. I could do nothing to restrain my grief. There was no distraction from the pain. Now I find myself working hard to ‘be normal’ – to swallow the lump in my throat, blink back the tears before they fall, to focus my mind on the tasks I have at work and at home. I’m not intentionally avoiding my pain altogether, but the whole world didn’t stop spinning when I lost my baby boy – it was only my world that came to a standstill for awhile. At some point life has to go on, and so do I. This hurt is almost unbearable at times, though. It's eating at me, and I feel trapped in my desperate attempt to grieve and live simultaneously.
So tonight all bets of ‘being normal’ are off. The tears are free to flow, the sobs can escape from my throat, and my fragmented heart can break a little bit more. Tonight I just want to miss my baby boy and remember his life.
So I will.
I remember the first time I felt Zachary move…how incredible!! I just desperately wanted Shaun to be able to feel those tiny bursts of life, too. So night after night, we would sit together on the couch with Shaun’s hands placed on either side of my belly and just wait for him to be able to feel those little kicks. Every time I would feel Zachary move, I would immediately look up at Shaun and ask, “Did you feel that?” until one night, our little boy kicked so hard, that Shaun pulled his hands back in surprise!
I remember sitting in the bleachers at the gym during basketball season, my belly growing bigger every day. Zachary was never very still, but when the Pep Band starting blaring ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ he would go CRAZY! The same was true when I would sit at the piano to play and sing. He loved music, especially loud music.
And every night that I had a bowl of ice cream after dinner (which was most nights), Zachary would flail wildly for a good 20 minutes afterward. Shaun thought it was hilarious!
Shaun also thought it was funny when, after Zachary settled down and I could fall asleep at night, he would gently jostle by belly around, as if he were wrestling with his son, and wake him up again. Shaun was such a good daddy, and he took every opportunity to experience the life growing inside me. I would do anything for Shaun to have the chance to celebrate this Father’s Day with his son in his arms!
And I remember Shaun’s prayer as we lay together in bed each night…the lights out, Shaun’s hand on my belly, Zachary shifting around, as if to get comfortable before falling asleep - a perfectly content family…“Lord, thank you for this life. Thank you for the chance to be parents. We give this child to you. May this baby know the One who created him, and may his life bring you glory. Amen.”
I will never get the opportunity take care of Zachary on earth. I will never rock my precious baby boy to sleep or put a band-aid on my 5-year-old son’s scratched knee or cheer in the stands at his high school sporting events. But I’m still really, really proud to be Zachary’s mommy! And I just love to talk about him and show off his pictures! This is such a sweet sorrow because it comes from a heart that has known a greater capacity to love. There really is nothing like the love of a mom for her child.
And even in this darkness, I recognize that the prayer Shaun and I prayed night after night has been answered in many ways. Zachary not only knows the One who created him, but he has seen His face. And our son's life is bringing glory to God in ways we would have never imagined. This road was definitely not what we had in mind when we prayed that prayer, and it doesn’t lessen the pain we feel in any way, but we are truly blessed to be chosen to be Zachary’s parents. I miss him so much.