I’m sorry it has taken me 16 months and five days to sit down and even begin to write your story. It was too big, and I am too small, too scared, too broken. For months and months now I have known I needed to write your story. To tell it all. But I haven’t been able to. When I think about it, there is a tightness and a heaviness and a fearfulness. But mostly the fear. There are things I don’t want to put into words. Things I don’t want other people to know, or maybe I don’t even want to really know. But I can’t write just part of your story. Bits and pieces of it. Leave some things out. It wouldn’t be right. You deserve more. So, because of my weakness, I’ve written nothing. Even though the words are in my head every single day.
It’s time they came out and stopped being only mine. Only mine to love and only mine to be weighed down by. So here I am, sitting in a hotel room alone in California, with my laptop and 24 hours ahead of me. Here I am trying to fix things that are broken. Trying to find my breath again, feel my heartbeat, remember myself. Here I am praying for strength, for help, for hope, for a way forward. Praying for words.
October 30 2019.
A day that changed my life forever. That faint pink line on a pregnancy test.
It was really faint, the kind they call a squinter, because if you aren’t squinting, it really isn’t there at all. But I was squinting, and it was there. The first moment that I held proof in my hand that you existed, you were real, and you were ours. The beginning of your story. But not really. There was so much that came before, that made that moment so big. So monumental. So much.
A vasectomy 10 years before… the moment that I call our biggest mistake. The regret that followed. And then another surgery 5 years later to undo what we did. To put things back in God’s hands where they belonged all along. To try to make it right. It wasn’t that we knew about you, or your sister Emerson. That we felt something or someone missing. It was simply that we wanted to trust God. To trust God more than we had.
And then the waiting. Month after month of no pink lines. A new experience for me to be sure. 14 months of trying and 14 months of pure aching disappointment. And then one day, one beautiful day at the beginning of June 2015 our life changed. I held another test in my hand, the proof of the beginning of your sister, and I asked your dad what it felt like to see it there, undeniably there. He said it felt like forgiveness. And we cried together. The day we told the kids about it was just pure joy. Really, it was an incredible pregnancy, which surprised me since I was nearing 40 and it had been 8 years since I had last been through one. It was probably my best pregnancy. The anticipation and love and excitement were thick in our home. We were counting the days and were down to single digits when everything changed. We lost her heartbeat, and with it we lost so much more. A few days later she was born, and she was beautiful and perfect and Heaven came straight into our home and settled there for a while. And then we buried her. After that, I wrote her story. Emerson’s story. I put it on the blog and I let everyone read it, because everyone needed to know her. Everyone needed to know the tiny miracle she was and the power and peace she brought with her. (I wrote her story in just a few days. I’m so sorry Finn.)
After that we picked one foot up and put it in front of another. Over and over. And it wasn’t that hard, because we just let Christ carry us on our sad days. And He did. But we had held that little girl in our arms. That tiny little perfect thing. We had wanted her and loved her and kissed her fingers and her toes before we had to say goodbye to her. We had been given this tiny glimpse of what it would mean to have a baby in the home again. A reminder of the sweetness and the goodness and the complete amazingness. I don’t care if that’s not a real word. The point is, we wanted more. We wanted Emerson to have a little brother or sister. We wanted you. Before we even knew it was you, we wanted you.
You didn’t make it easy. Maybe you weren’t ready. Or maybe you knew that I wasn’t ready. Either way, you made me wait. Two years of trying all the tricks and all the methods. Two years of no pink lines. Crying in the bathroom. Two years of feeling my body get older and older, watching hope slip away month after month. I was 39. Then I turned 40. Then I turned 41. I felt like I needed to let go. Not to give up really, but to give in. To give in to what God knew, and let it be more important than what I wanted. We decided to stop trying. To stop crying in the bathroom every month. (Me, that is.) To start embracing the life we had, the kids we had, the little angel we had. I was officially in my forties. We had seven children. It was a beautiful life. It was good. It was so much better than good.
We decided to just let nature take its course… and at this point, after two years of trying every month, we assumed we knew what that course would be. And it was nearly another two years before we were proven wrong. I was almost 43 years old that October morning. I had made my peace with the fact that I would never be pregnant again, never give birth again, never nurse again. Oh how I ached to nurse a baby after your sister was gone before she could ever latch on even one time. But I had found peace and trust and acceptance. And then you changed everything. Again.
You know Finn, I love you. I love you so much. And oh, I miss you. And this is hard.
A day that changed my life forever. That faint pink line on a pregnancy test.
Here you are Finlan. Day one of knowing you. Of loving you. Of waiting for you. I can tell you honestly that there was not one ounce of anything but pure excitement when I saw that line get darker every day. Even though it had taken 4 years. Even though I had really given up hope 2 years before. Even though I felt so old. Even though we had had an early miscarriage 6 months before that, which had served not to give me hope, but to confirm what seemed evident… that my body was too old to do this again. Nothing but pure excitement. There was restraint at first, we didn’t tell the kids right away, because we really didn’t believe you were coming. Finally. We didn’t want to get their hopes up, just to watch them shatter. Oh but we were excited. And finally at Thanksgiving we told your brothers and sisters, the family, then the world. Our little miracle was on his way.
A few weeks later, I turned 43. You were so good to me and hardly ever made me throw up. But I felt like it a lot. I couldn’t eat the things I wanted to eat. And the exhaustion. Exhaustion like I have never experienced in my life. That is saying something, because I’ve been fairly energy deprived for as long as I can remember. But this was a new beast. I couldn’t get out of bed some days. I felt like I was moving through quicksand all the time, just trying to barely keep my head above the surface. And not just physically. Mentally, emotionally. So many things in my life were changing, and I was struggling with my loss of control over things. Lots of things contributed to that, but you were the silver lining, making it all okay.
Your dad and I spent ten days on the beach in Hawaii at the beginning of 2020. You were a cute little baby bump, I would dig an impression in the sand for you to rest in while I laid with my face down. It was the best ten days I’d had in a long time. God made something really amazing when he made the beach, and it is calming and restoring to me. I felt good. I had some energy restored, enough to go hiking, kayaking, zip lining, tubing. Enough to soak up every minute of joy that island had to offer. I didn’t even get sick when we went out on the boat through those choppy waves. It was a gift of a trip. It centered me and let me feel good again for a little while.
And then the world went crazy.
I’m not going to spend even ten seconds on the craziness of the spring of 2020 and onward in this world. But I don’t think I was alone in feeling like I lost control of a lot of things in my life. Again. Anxiety built. But, you were going to be here soon, and that was an amazing distraction.
Oh, I spent a lot of money getting ready for you. Everything had to be new, because I didn’t have much in the way of baby things any more. I had bought a crib and a swing and a playpen before Emerson was born, but I had promised them to your sister Rae, because, as you know, your niece Averie was also on her way. I filled a nursery. New crib, new swing, new rocker. Bassinet, stroller, diapers, changing table, and oh the cutest neutral clothes. Onesies that said “perfect” and “loved” on the chest. Little swaddles, and all the nightgowns in rust and pink in case you were a girl, and in different shades of blue in case you were a boy. Before you were born, you had a beautiful room full of everything you would need or want for the first several months of your life. I don’t know if I will ever get rid of your crib, your changing table, your rocker, your swing. My grand babies will use them, but they will always be yours. And when I sit in that rocker and look at the quilts I made and the creams and whites and muted colors everywhere in that room, I will always always think of you and your sister. And smile.
You were due on my sister’s birthday, July 14. I had a pretty good feeling you would be here a while before that, just because your two sisters before you had both been more than 10 days early. I was excited for you to come any day you wanted, preferably not on the 4th of July, but any other day. When I started to roll over in bed at 5:25am on July 3rd and my water broke, I felt like that was just right. 35 minutes later when contractions started at 45 seconds long and only 5-7 minutes apart, it left little doubt in my mind that we would avoid having a second baby born on a major holiday. How wrong I was.
All day on July 3rd I labored. I had done this 7 times before, at home, natural. So the pain was not something new or overly frightening to me. But it was pain. You just push through it and keep going knowing it will not last forever. My midwife had started me on antibiotics right away, because my water had broken before active labor had started, and because my last few labors were quite long. We didn’t want to risk any chance of infection. I labored all through the night. I labored and I labored. Around the 30 hour mark things started getting pretty intense. My mom came. Debra. Jocelyn. We were into July 4th now. But that didn’t really matter to me any more.
Your birth was hard. It was the hardest I’d ever been through. The longest too. I have often thought about the fact that I labored for longer than you lived. And I’ve wondered why. There are so many things I could say about your birth, but none of it needs to be said here. It was hard, it was traumatic. But in the end, it gave me you.
After you were born, as I lie there in the tub, you were crying and crying… I think you had been through a good share of trauma as well. You were in my arms, and your eyes were open. You were so beautiful Finn man. So perfect. Someone said that I should sing to you, and there was a song playing. I don’t remember the song, but I remember it had the words “beating heart” in it. I started singing, and when I said those words, I started crying, and you stopped. It was at that moment that I knew you were here, it was over, you were alive, breathing, looking at me. And I fell in love. With everything about you. The 9 months of rewriting the vision we had of our future in order to make space for you in it, were washed away, because here you were, and you were ours. And it was so good and so right. And I fell in love with you. I handed you to your dad, with some help, and he walked you to the bedroom so the ladies could help me. I needed some attention after that 38.5 hour ordeal.
They helped me out to the bed and dad put you back in my arms. I looked at your little face and you were everything. And then the moment I had been missing for 4.5 years, I put you to my breast and you latched right on. Emotion exploded inside of me, and I looked out the window. It was night time on the 4th of July, and there were fireworks exploding everywhere. Perfection. You were perfection in my arms, in our world, at that moment. I got covered up and the kids came in to meet you while the midwife took your vitals. They loved you so much. You grabbed their fingers in turn and melted everyone’s heart. And then they took you out to the living room while I got taken care of. I had only held you for a few minutes it seems. You were safe with your siblings and wrapped up in so much love, but I missed you immediately.
Around 11:00 that night I begged your dad to go get you and bring you back in to the bedroom to me. It had been two hours. I missed you. I needed you in my arms. I needed to feel your realness, see your eyes, feel your little heartbeat. I thought we would have so much more time with you. I thought your brothers and sisters would get to hold you for days and days and days. So I had dad bring you back to me. And I feel guilty for taking you away from them. I needed you, but so did they. We all did. You were healing parts of us that hadn’t been right since Emerson left us. You were magic. And I was selfish. I’m so sorry. You had been inside of me for 9 months, and you weren’t there anymore. When you weren’t in my arms there was such a void of something missing, so I needed you there. But for every moment that I held you in my arms, someone else was not able to have you in theirs. And I’m so sorry. I can’t make it right.
Before the midwife left that night, you started spitting up a little bit of blood. I was alarmed, but the midwife let me know it is perfectly normal, especially after such a long and difficult birth. She was able to pump a little bit of blood out of your tiny tummy and told me to watch it and it should go away in a day or less. And it did. By the time you were 24 hours, the blood was gone. She was right. She checked all of your vitals again before she left, and you were just perfect. You didn’t sleep much at all that first night. Your breathing was a little bit labored. You had been through an ordeal. We were watching you closely for any signs of infection… taking your temperature every two hours, watching if you would latch on and try to eat or not. There were no indicators at all of any infection. It would be pretty unlikely anyway, since I was on antibiotics for your entire birth and the days after. But you didn’t sleep much. I held you in my arms all night. I didn’t put you down. I kissed you a thousand times on your face and your head and your fingers and your toes. A thousand kisses.
Sunday July 5. Your life day. That’s what we call it now. When we celebrate you every year it will be on July 5, your life day. The one full day you were alive with us here. Sunday. You never got to lie down by yourself because you were held every moment of the day. I didn’t get to hold you very much that day, everyone else needed their turns. I scolded your sisters for arguing over who got to hold you next. I told them they would get to hold you a thousand times for months and months and they should not fight about it. I lied to them. I didn’t know that that was the only day they would hold you. I have guilt in my heart that I scolded them, that I lied to them, that I was so wrong. I’m so sorry.
We took so many pictures of you. Grandma and Grandpa came and held you. And quite a few of your aunts and uncles. Not enough, but quite a few. Nobody knew that would be their only chance. You were a sweet little grunter. Still with a little bit of labored breathing, but no fever, I checked it every two hours. I never missed. And as the day wore on your grunts turned into little whines. Precious little noises. And you were a good eater. That night your dad rocked you before he went to sleep. I came and took you and told him to get some rest and that I would rock you. I’m so sorry. He got so little time with you in his arms and it is my fault. I’m so sorry. I should have let him keep rocking you. I should have never taken you away from anyone. I will never be able to give that back to anyone, the time they should have had with you.
I swaddled you up tight that night and it calmed you. I was able to lay you in your bassinet for a few hours off and on during the night and you were able to sleep. It was a good night together. You weren’t spitting blood any more. You weren’t so labored in your breathing. You were calmer and more peaceful and my fears and anxieties started slipping away. You were here and you were ours.
Monday July 6.
Dad was supposed to be at work that morning. That’s why I had told him to sleep while I rocked you. He had work at 7:00. But he didn’t go. I asked him about it around 7:30 and he said he just felt like he wanted to stay home with us. With all my heart I am grateful for that. He knew without knowing.
We just laid in bed with you all morning. Dad and I, and you in between us. Dad watched you while I took a shower and got dressed. And then I took you out of your gown and put you on the bed in just your little white onesie. And we watched you lay there in all your tiny perfection. We looked at your hands and your feet. We soaked you in. You were peaceful. It felt just right. I took your temperature at 9:00. And you had a tiny little fever. It was the first time you were above normal. You were still under 100 degrees, but you were over 99 and that was the first time. I was watching for anything over 100.2, an indicator of infection. You were barely over 99, but I was going to start checking every half hour to make sure it was nothing. I didn’t even get to check one more time.
As you lay there on the bed there was this moment. This amazing moment when we were both watching you, and you smiled. We both noticed, and dad said “Is he smiling?” Because it was a real smile. And it lasted longer than a fleeting second. You looked in our eyes and you smiled at us. Everything felt just so right at that moment. You in your onesie, lying on our bed, smiling at us. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. A few minutes later I tried to nurse you but you wouldn’t latch on. You wouldn’t even try. I put you up to my shoulder and I was looking at your face. I was looking right into your eyes. And you stopped breathing. I saw you stop. I pulled you away from my shoulder and your entire body went stiff in my arms, like you were standing straight and tall. A spasm? A seizure? It lasted only seconds but felt like eternity. And when you went limp, you were completely limp. And you weren’t breathing. Dad called 911 and I started breathing for you. I put my mouth over your little face and I started breathing for you. It was only a few seconds you were not breathing before I was breathing for you. And it was only a few more seconds before the phone was on speaker and I had you on the floor giving you proper infant CPR as directed. Your brother Teegan came to the door and I told him you weren’t breathing. He asked if you were choking, but you weren’t. And I remember his eyes. And I knew my kids hearts were going to break.
It was only 4 minutes later that my room was swarming with first responders. They got there so fast. Somebody took over the CPR and I moved aside. I told your dad to go into the living room and be with the kids and pray with them. I could hear your sisters crying in there and they were all alone. So I just told him to go. I shouldn’t have told him to leave. I should have gone. I’m sorry. And a first responder cut your onesie off and they were everywhere trying to help you. Asking how old you were. And I said “two days”. They had been told they were coming to a two year old. But you were only two days.
I don’t know how many minutes it was after that that we were headed out to the ambulance to take you to the hospital. There were people in the streets, some friends, some neighbors. And only one of us could go with you. So I went. I didn’t even ask dad if he wanted to go. It was like a part of me was being put in that truck and I needed to be with you. But I should have asked him. I’m so sorry. I was so selfish. I told him to go pick up Katauna from work and come meet us at the hospital, and then we were gone. I was so bossy. I’m so sorry. I didn’t cry in the ambulance. I sat there and I prayed. But I didn’t cry. I think I knew that once I started, I wouldn’t ever stop. I think I already knew that you were never going to come home again. I stopped feeling, because it would have been too much. Just minutes ago everything in the world was perfect.
This is about the time that I should be saying it was all a blur. And so much of me wishes it was all a blur. But it’s not. It is all so clear. It is like it happened today, every day. I remember every minute. We got to the hospital and they took us to a room. You were put on a tiny little table and there were about 9 doctors and nurses all around you. They put a tube in your mouth and a needle in your leg. They were still doing CPR. They were moving so fast. I was sitting in a chair a few feet away watching everything. I started to feel hot and dizzy and light headed, so I got out of the chair and knelt down on the floor and put my head on the seat. A nurse came over and gave me a pillow to put under my knees, so I did. And all the while you were on the table, not moving, not breathing, no pulse. And I was alone in that room full of people. Watching my world shift. Out of my control.
A moment later a man knelt down on the floor next to me. He was one of the first responders. He put his hand on my back. He told me he would stay there by me until your dad got there. What a tender mercy. I felt the weight of his hand on my back, assuring me that I was not alone. And I waited for your dad to get there. It seemed like a long time. Such a long time.
The doctor came over and talked to me. He told me it had been nearly 45 minutes since you stopped breathing. He told me that they had not been able to get a pulse in that whole time. He told me that they could keep trying, but that even if you started breathing again now, it had been so long, that there would be extensive brain damage if you even survived, which was highly unlikely.
I didn’t cry.
He told me that it was time to let go.
I didn’t cry.
I listened and I nodded and I asked him if we could wait until your dad was there. And he said yes.
I didn’t cry.
I got up and stood by you as they continued working on you. But you were gone.
And then your dad came in.
And I told him what the doctor said.
And I fell in his arms and I cried and I cried and I cried.
We cried together.
And then we let you go.
They took out all the tubes and the needles, except the tube in your mouth, they said it had to stay, but they cut it short. They wrapped you up in a blanket and put you in my arms. Then your brothers and sisters came in. And my heart broke into a thousand pieces. A million pieces. I could not fathom that they had to go through this – again. That they had to hold a tiny lifeless body in their arms – again. That we would have to bury our world – again. There is no way around the fact that it. was. not. fair.
Everyone at the hospital was so nice. They let us stay in that room for a long time. They brought in a cart of snacks and drinks. Grandma and Grandpa came. Ryan and Jocelyn and Debra and Darren came. We all held you and spent time with you before it was time to leave. We got to say goodbye to you, and hold each other. We took some pictures, another set of pictures of my kids crying, holding a little bundle of love they had to let go. We talked and we cried and we breathed. Eventually it was time for everyone to leave. Dad and I had to sit down with an investigator for some questions. The hospital chaplain told us it would take an hour or so, and then we could come back and say goodbye to you before you had to go with the medical examiner.
So I laid you on the little bed, kissed you on the cheek, and told you I would be back. And then we left the room.
And I never saw you again.
As soon as we got seated in the new room the chaplain came in and told us that we would not be able to see you again, that the medical examiner would take you away while we were being interviewed. And no, we could not go back and say good-bye. She lied to us. To get us out of the room without a scene. To move on with her day. She lied. I am holding so much anger toward her, and I know it is time to lay it down, but it is hard. She robbed me of the chance to kiss your face and touch your fingers and toes knowing it would be the last time I’d see you in this life. She did it on purpose. We could have kept our goodbyes brief, but she never gave us the chance. It was wrong. I haven’t quite got around to forgiveness yet. It’s on the list.
The interview lasted a long time, lots and lots of questions. Questions about when you slept and where you slept and what we put in the crib with you. Questions about our house, our room, our heating and air conditioning. Questions about my labor and delivery. Questions about you. It was long, but it wasn’t hard. There were no unknowns as far as what happened, because we were holding you when it happened. The only unknown was “why?”. Partway through we had to pause because I felt like I was going to pass out. This was just 36 hours after you were born remember, I was still bleeding a lot, and I hadn’t eaten. Oh, yeah, and there was some shock and some trauma. They were very responsive and kind, got me something to eat and made sure I was okay before we finished the interview. And then they let us go.
We walked out to the waiting room and everyone was still there, waiting for us. And more people had come, David and Shalyn, and they brought us smoothies. And then there was nothing left to do but go home.
I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about 4 hours between the time I left in the ambulance with you and the time we came back home without you. The drive home was too quick, I wasn’t ready to walk into the house without you. I wasn’t ready to see your onesie cut open and tossed aside on the floor, your little blue gown still on the bed where I had left it when I undressed you before that magical smile, your blankets in the bassinet. No other word for it, I was scared to face it. I didn’t know there had been angels at work while we were gone.
We opened the door and walked into a home transformed. Everything was clean, and there were flowers everywhere. So many flowers. Food on the counter. And your onesie and your gown nowhere to be seen at first. Your bassinet tidy with a tiny spray of flowers where you had slept. Dishes done, laundry running. Food and flowers. And so much love. We have angels in our neighborhood, women who I love and women who I barely know. Lisa, who had held you in her arms the day before, who knows our front door code and didn’t hesitate to use it. Marcy, Tiffany, Misty. I don’t know who else. But I’ve been told the first thing they did was pray. And then they worked. And the fear I had walking in was washed away and replaced with love and gratitude. With the peaceful reassurance that Christ was here, aware of us, taking care of us through those around us. And I started to remember, the feeling. The feeling in our home after Emerson was born. When heaven wrapped us up and held us. I started to remember and it helped me keep breathing.
The afternoon moved on. Sitting together in the living room. Being together. Grandma and Grandpa. Some aunts and uncles. The bishop stopped by and just sat with us. For an hour or more. And I mostly felt nothing. Which was a blessing. I could tell there was pain and anguish and heartbreak dancing around the room, but being kept at bay by the people who loved us and came and sat with us. And then I made the mistake of leaving the room. I walked down the hall to my bedroom, to go to the bathroom.
I got into the room just seconds before I fell to the floor, nothing in my legs to hold me up. And for a moment everything shifted. All the emotions that were being kept at bay came crashing in on top of me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t scream though I felt a scream inside of me. All I could do was sob. On my knees, leaning against my bed, I felt completely alone. I couldn’t feel the Savior any more. I felt so many things, too many things, and none of them good. Anger, so much anger. Fear like I have never experienced, guilt, sorrow, anguish. This clear shout in my head telling me I can’t control anything.
I don’t know how anything in this world could feel worse than what I felt in that moment. And I don’t know how long it lasted, seconds maybe. Minutes? Not as long as it seemed I’m sure, and then your dad was there, with his arms around me, holding me. And the world righted again. And I started to breathe again.
I have wondered about that moment. In awe and gratitude. I think the Lord wanted me to know. To know He was there, holding me, shielding me, protecting me, helping me. And the only way for me to know it, was to feel it for a moment without Him. Or with maybe just a little bit less of Him. To feel what I was being kept from feeling. To walk for one moment through what I was being carried through. To know He is real. And He is really here. It was a gift. That horrible moment in time… I cherish it. I cherish what it proved to me.
And when Jason came in the room, and dropped to the floor with me and wrapped me in his arms, the same way he did when we found out your uncle Mark had died… and helped me breathe….oh Finn, you have such a good daddy. He is my rock, and he is my soft place to land. I could have never made it through so many parts of this life without him beside me. I am not whole without him, and I know that he is a gift from God. A gift for me. To save me from letting this world swallow me whole, to save me from losing myself. To remind me every single day of how much goodness there is in my life. Even on that most difficult day… to feel safe and loved when he wrapped me up. Amazing. I can’t wait for him to hold you in his arms again. So you can feel how strong and how good they are.
The next couple days were quiet. People we love stopping by to spend time with us. The girls writing everything in their journals. Food brought in. Gifts from our old ward, those who had loved us through losing Emerson. Lots of tears and lots of laughs, because you know that is how we deal. Visiting the funeral home, ordering your headstone to match your sister’s. Arranging the opening of the grave. So many things I don’t really remember doing, working on autopilot.
On Wednesday my milk came in. The reminder that, once again, my body was prepared to care for a baby that didn’t need me anymore.
Didn’t need me.
And Thursday I got sick. I laid in bed, weaker than I’ve ever felt. I had a fever, aches, chills. My midwife was sure it was mastitis. But it felt like something worse to me. My mom came by after picking up the pictures we had printed of you, for your funeral. Oh you were the cutest thing, and we had taken a thousand pictures in your tiny life. And then my midwife came by to check on me. My iron was low. So low. I had lost so much blood. But at least that explained the fatigue, we thought.
Friday morning arrived and I was not okay. It was the day of your funeral, but I could not move off my bed. The fatigue was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I could not get up. The more I talked to your dad the more concerned we got. We started calling around to doctors but couldn’t get in anywhere on such short notice. So we started preparing for a trip to the hospital, and the reality that I was not going to be able to be at your funeral.
My heart breaking fresh.
We decided to have a prayer together before leaving and see how we felt. Your dad prayed, and I felt the spirit. I felt peace and calm, and that everything was alright. Your dad felt the same. It didn’t feel like I needed to go to the hospital. I told dad I would try to take a shower and see how I felt. I was able to walk to the shower and sit down for a few minutes running the water hot and cold, hot and cold, just trying to get my circulation going. After the shower I said “I’m just going to try to get dressed and see how I feel”. And I did. Then I did my hair. And then we got in the car and drove to the cemetery. All the while I am in awe… I feel fine. I feel physically fine. Not to be overly dramatic, but it was a miracle.
I remember sitting in a chair at the funeral, and so many people are crying, and I’m not because all I can think is that I just witnessed a miracle in my life. The sickness never came back. What an incredible blessing. God is so good.
Your funeral was beautiful, with just so much family and a few most precious friends. Your brothers carried your casket. Your sister Katauna sang you a song she had written for you. And we laid you to rest one spot away from your big sister. In that sweet peaceful cemetery full of little angel babies. We said goodbye.
Things got quieter after the funeral, not so many visitors, not so many meals. A little more time with my thoughts, and my heart. I’ve described it over the months as whiplash. Spending nine months preparing for you, rewriting the version of our future we had anticipated, changing our hopes and dreams. And then in one moment, it was all gone. What was I supposed to feel? Was I supposed to be able to just go back to that previous version of myself? Was I supposed to be glad that I could go back to planning to be an empty nester? How could I want that again? How could I want anything but you in my arms? What was I even supposed to feel? And over days and weeks and months, the answers never got more clear. The anxiety became worse. The realization of the absence of any kind of control in my life started to consume me. I became very jumpy, everything scared me. There was so much fear. I was anxious about everything. I didn’t know how to find myself again. I wasn’t dealing with grief, God was helping with that. It was something else.
A few weeks later we finally got the results of the autopsy. Group B strep. An infection. That you got from me. The chances of me having it were slim. The chances of me passing it to you, miniscule. The chances of you getting it with me being on antibiotics at birth… 1 in 4,000. The chance that it causes death, 1 in 100,000. You were the 1. It didn’t get into any of your organs. You weren’t in pain. It got in your blood and headed straight to your brain. That’s why it was so sudden, and so quickly over. There was nothing that could have been done unless we knew sooner you were infected. And there was no way to know that.
There was relief, that you hadn’t suffered. That your short life hadn’t been filled with pain. That you didn’t know something was wrong. And there was fear. That we had missed something. That we should have known. That I had done something wrong. That maybe, just maybe, if we hadn’t been at home, things would have ended differently. There were comments made by people asking if I regretted birthing at home now. And I brushed them off. But not all the way off.
And then miss Averie arrived on the scene.Sitting at home while your sister Rae labored for hours and hours and hours, imagining all the worst things, imagining that she was going through the same type of labor I had just been through two months before. Going crazy. They called us in the middle of the night to let us know they were transferring to the hospital, and we headed in to meet them. I was so scared. But when I walked in and saw Rae, laboring away like a rockstar, so much of the fear went away… she was okay. We went to the hospital with them, and they let me stay. I was there while she labored a little more, and I was there when they wheeled her back for a C-section. And I was there when that sweet little girl came back in the room and was laid in my arms only a few minutes old. And I knew she had just been with you, just moments before. And I whispered in her ear that I was Finn’s mommy, and that I was her grandma. And pieces of my heart started to fall back into place.
It was so good and so hard. Those first two days in the hospital with Averie. It was healing in so many ways… they were concerned about infection after such a long labor and so I got to see what they did to watch for that. And it was the same thing we did for you. She was spitting up a little blood, and they said it was normal, especially after such a long labor, and it would clear up. They pumped her little tummy and then just waited. The same thing we did for you. I may have put my ear to her mouth a dozen times to make sure she was still breathing, and every time, she was. Being there helped me start to heal in ways I didn’t know how to start on my own.
It’s not that I blamed myself. Birthing at home has been our path. Our choice. And I have loved it. For us, it was good, it was right. I’m glad you were at home when you came to us and at home when you left us. Had we been in the hospital, your brothers and sisters would have never held you, never kissed you, never looked into your eyes and fallen in love with you. But there was always that little bit of doubt, that maybe we could have saved you. If we had been in a hospital instead of at home. And Averie helped me move past that. We did all the things they would have done. Your days were numbered, and oh how happy I am that you got to spend them at home. With your forever family. Regret and fear were replaced with the sweet assurance that all was as it should be. That nothing would have changed the amount of time you were with us. Averie gave me that gift. And though it pains me that Rae had such a hard delivery and a transfer to the hospital, I am also so grateful for the questions it answered for my heart. I thank your big sister for suffering so I could find peace.
And oh, your sweet little niece, she saved us all. She is a light, and filled the gaping hole that was left in our hearts and our home after you left. She has done more to heal our broken hearts than anyone else could have, except the Savior. She is pure joy. I love being her grandma. I love that there is a little person swinging in your swing, sleeping in your crib, being rocked in your glider, playing with your toys. She has given me a practical reason to leave the nursery intact. It is one of my favorite rooms in our house. Because I feel you and your sister there. And I get to play with Averie there. Heaven sent us a sweet sweet spirit to help us along in our missing you.
You’ve been gone two years now. It has taken me 7.5 months to write your story. That first night in the hotel, I put down so much, I typed without stopping until the tears made me. And it helped me begin to heal. Leading up to that point, I felt jumpy and anxious every minute of every day. I was scared all the time. I was scared of people dying. All the people I love. Fear weighed me down. Anger at the total lack of control I have over my own life. But I spent that night in the hotel and I began. I started. The first few pages of your story were written. And something broke loose inside of me. And then I spent the next three days on the beach with my friend. And God started to remind me. Of the goodness of my life.
My life is so good. So blessed. I have your dad, the most perfect man for me there ever could be. Strong. Faithful. Patient. Kind. He is such a good dad. I can’t wait for you to grow up with him. I have your sisters, beautiful women and girls. They are so very good. And your brothers, who I am so proud of. Your sister-in-law, and your brothers-in-law, such amazing additions to our little circle. Beautiful grand babies. And Emerson. And You. I could never ask for more. I have everything.
That night in the hotel was the first night I spent by myself in decades. And I discovered something I didn’t know. I need to be alone. Sometimes, just for a little time, I need to be alone. And it doesn’t make me selfish, and it doesn’t mean I don’t love my people. But I need it. Today I am alone again. The girls and dad are at girls camp for a few days. And I knew that while they were gone I needed to finish your story. The un-done-ness of it weighs on me. Haunts me even. I feel it a betrayal to you. It’s a weight I want to let go of. So here we are.
The last 7 months since my time in California has been better. Less anxiety, less fear. Not back to who I was before, but I’m finding my way. I’m learning to truly trust God, and not be so bothered by having no control over things in my life. Every hard part of my life has turned into blessings as time goes on. Every single one. How can I doubt Him? I want to trust wholly. I’m getting close. I have felt closer to the spirit, closer to the light. Priorities have shifted. New dreams have come into play. Your niece Irelyn got here 3 weeks ago. Another little miracle helping me trust. Your nephew will be here soon and I wonder if you guys are hanging out. Time and love are healing the hurts.
But, I am still suffering in some ways.
My body has not recovered. I have had unsettled back problems since your birth, and my iron levels are scary low, I have not recovered from the blood loss. I have no energy. I can’t lose weight. My blood pressure is stubbornly high, I get a lot of headaches – almost every day, and I still have more anxiety issues than I had before.
And my mind and spirit still have some room to improve. I miss you and your sister fiercely, but it is a good missing, a joyful missing. I’m not sad when I think of you, I am hopeful and excited. But I am still dealing with some feelings of guilt. For moments I held you when someone else could have held you. For scolding your sisters for fighting over you. For sending your dad to the living room when the first responders came. I have emotional trauma from your birth that I don’t know how to overcome. I can’t talk about it, think about it, without feeling like I am suffocating. It makes me feel little and scared and broken. I have a desire to trust God, but too much fear to risk getting pregnant, which makes me feel like I’m not very good at trusting. So there are still things to work on. But, there is so much good.
God is so very good. He is my Father. He is a good Father. I know this all the way inside my heart. Everything in my world tells me it is true. Sometimes it is hard to believe or hard to remember when the hard things are happening. But it is always true. My Savior is my best friend. The only person who truly knows. Knows how it felt, how it feels, why it happened, where it is leading me. He is here. Always. You and your sister Emerson have taught me that. Wrote it on my heart.
I love you Finn. I’m sorry it took me 16 months to start, and 7.5 more months to finish, your story.
This part of your story.
Because, of course, there is so much more to come.
You are missed every day, thought of every day, loved every day. You and your big sister both. You are a blessing in my life. And I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again.
It will be a perfect day.
Love you forever,