One week exactly before Christmas Eve, I knew there was something wrong but everything in me pleaded for the best. The nurse tried with three different devices to find his heartbeat. At one point we heard a faint beat and her eyebrows raised but I knew it was my own. I had heard his heartbeat several times now and that wasn't it. She took my pulse and timed it to the rhythm and her looked changed to one of deflation. I burst into tears. The doctors did a bed side ultrasound then took me into another room for another sonogram. As they gathered around the screen they pointed, nodded heads and tightened their lips. Then one turned to me and said "I'm sorry, your baby has died." They guided me with sympathetic eyes back to my room. And I threw up.
At 6:30pm I was induced and after fifteen long hours of labour, I delivered my son Declan stillborn. I have never in my life been that afraid and sad as I was in that moment. The nurses took him away to wash him and brought him to me all bundled in a warm blanket, but his skin was cold when I touched his face. He was really tiny; 207 grams. And he was beautiful. His features resembled that of my other two sons when they were babies. This made it all too real for me. I kissed his little head that had the smallest knitted white toque I've ever seen covering it and said sorry to him; sorry for failing him, sorry for his discomfort and sorry for his loss of being. I've been told over and over there is nothing I could have done to have prevented this from happening but I think you'd have to be a mom in my position to understand my apologies. I told him I love him, I said goodbye then Chris took him from me before handing him to the nurse. She left our room and brought back a tiny green box. In in she had photographs of him, a baby bracelet that said 'Declan' and a card with a heart on it where she had stamped his little footprints. Other than holding that memory box, we left the hospital with empty arms.
The days following are a blur. With what I just had to endure emotionally and physically, I now had to plan the burial for my son. I don't know how it all came together but it did. The reverend, the piper, the memory cards, choosing his grave site, registering his death, arranging for the hearse.. somehow we did it. The boys chose three little stuffed animals to put in his casket to represent our three babies who we lost through miscarriages over the years. We also got him a baby stocking, a Christmas ornament that says 'Love At First Sight' and a blanket the kids knit for him the day we told them we had lost him. I had him wrapped in a white knit blanket my Gran had made for Carter ten years ago; one that Callum had also used as a baby. I hope Declan feels the love that surrounds him.
On Friday December 21st, 2012 the day the world was supposed to end, we buried our son. As we drove to the cemetery we saw his hearse drive by. I was numbed by the sight. When we got there the graveyard was full of my most cherished friends and family, but I couldn't look any of them in the eye for if I did I would crumble. And I needed to be strong for this. I didn't want my last moments with my son above ground to be wasted in only sorrow. I still had more I needed to tell him and I could not afford the time it would cost to become distracted. I could not feel my legs through the entire service and my tears blurred everything around me but I knew I was surrounded by people who were there for us. I could feel the strength from their kind words and thoughts holding me up in my moment of weakness as I thought I hate the word today, no one should ever have to bury their child.
Leaving him in his little coffin on top of the plot where he would later be buried will forever bother me. It is an image I wake up to every night. A good mother does not leave her children unattended. Ever. I worry that he wasn't warm enough, I'm scared that he is scared.
I'm not sure where to go from here but I think once I am ready to accept my guilt, my grief, my loss, I will bundle it up and place it in the spot of stillness I have carved out in my heart for Declan. I will never be the same because of losing him. I plan to learn how to carry this with me in a way that it does not become an obstacle in my life going forward; for the sake of my little family. I feel my soul now holds new life lessons on karma, on love and on loss because of his existence. My baby boy has shown me that even the smallest feet can leave an imprint on this world. With that I will try to make the world a better place in his honour.
If love alone could have saved you my son you never would have died.
Rest In Peace Declan Christopher
December 17, 2012