23 months ago I received the worst news of my life. My sweet precious baby boy whom I adored and loved so much for 23 weeks and 5 days, passed away, and I would become the parent of a stillborn. The next day my son, Jacob Austin, was born still. He was born into a silent room, filled with the tears of his family members who were still anxiously awaiting his arrival. He was born into a room full of love.
Over the course of the next three days, my family and I loved him, snuggled with him and then I was discharged from the hospital. Without him. My world felt as if it was ending. A part of me had died when he did. Happiness was a goal I thought I would never attain again. Frankly, I had no desire to be happy again. My world had ended. My son, who was expecting to be a big brother wasn’t going to be a big brother to a baby boy on earth, but one in Heaven. I wasn’t the mother to two kids on earth, but one on Earth and one in Heaven. The week after I came home from my three week, 21 day hospital stay, was the worst ever. The weeks following were almost as horrible, and heartbreaking. Each day, each week that passed was another milestone I knew I was missing. Unbeknownst to me though, the Lord was working in my life. He was healing my heart and teaching me that even though a part of my passed away the day Jacob did, he had given me many things to be happy about, many things to smile for.
It was through grieving the loss of Jacob, that I learned how to truly be grateful and happy for the things I do have in my life. I learned that to be happy you must be truly happy for those around you. I became much more thankful for my family, and close friends who stuck by my side. They provided the support I needed as well as small things to make me smile when I needed it. Smiling while grief was so new to me, felt so wrong. I had no desire to smile, or to be happy. My heart was broken into 10 million pieces and it would never be fixed again. I forced myself a little bit at a time to do things I was no longer comfortable with. I forced myself to go shopping at the grocery store and in the mall where I knew I might encounter babies and pregnant women. I forced myself to attend baseball games where my son was playing, although I knew there was a risk of pregnant women, babies and small children who may remind me of my loss. However, I knew that among all of these things that could go wrong, no one would judge me for stopping in the middle of my joy and crying or expressing sadness if I needed to. And, I did, stop many times and shed tears at the baseball field, when a unknowing mother parked her stroller and baby next to me… each time I’d see a new mommy carrying her newborn through the grocery store… when I went to the zoo and saw families pushing their babies around…knowing I’d never do that with Jacob. All of these things helped me heal.
When on these outings, I would look for reasons to smile, even through those tears. I began noticing the beautiful sunsets at the baseball field where my son was playing. I wanted to watch when my son said he was going to send a ball to Jacob in Heaven. I wanted to find some small something to put at Jake’s graveside that would let others know how much he was loved. I found several little pinwheels, and a mosaic ladybug to rest on his headstone. Knowing that passersby would know who Jacob was and that he had a family that loved him and missed him, brought me joy. These things made smile.
When these things weren’t enough, I brought out my memory box provided to me from the hospital, and gazed at the few precious pictures I have of my boy, traced his footprints with my fingers and listened to music that I picked especially for him for his funeral. All of these things brought me joy, through many tears.
As more time progressed, I found joy in helping others. I began reaching out to other mothers and families who had similar stories, who experienced the unthinkable. I began blogging as a way to document my journey through grief in order to raise awareness to Stillbirth, but also to give other mommies and daddies a sense of hope, that grief does change. In March 2012, I began the Facebook page for Parents of Stillborns as well as a Pinterest page for grieving families. Each time I add to these pages, I smile through my sadness and sometimes tears, knowing that at that particular moment, there is a family that needs me, there is someone who is in the shoes I was in two years ago. It is my goal to do everything I can to help. If you need anything from me, or ever just want to talk, please don’t hesitate to email me at Jessica.Stillloved@yahoo.com. Look up my support page on Facebook at Http://www. Facebook.com/stillloved , our Pinterest is http://www.Pinterest.com/angelmommies. These links are also available on the left side of this blog, under helpful links.
Even if it's something small, I encourage you to find something that helps you to smile today. Your baby would want you to smile and be happy. After all they were always happy with you. You're all they ever knew.
Have a great week! Let me know on Facebook,or in the comments here what you've found brings you joy again. Big Big Hugs to you all!