Friday, April 20, 2012

Show Us Your Life

I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog today for
I would rather not be linking up today. It would be wonderful to not be part of this club. But I am. And I am grateful for all the mamas out there who've been such a support system for me.
Pregnant with Cole July 2010
When our firstborn son, Connor was almost a one-year-old (June of 2010), we learned we were going to have a little brother or sister to add to our family and were overjoyed. At our 20 week ultrasound, on September 15th, 2010, we had a very "abnormal experience" and  knew that something was not right (the technician didn't say anything, but we just KNEW). At about 4:30 that afternoon, I got a missed phone call from Kaiser. As soon as I saw the number, I knew that something was wrong. When I spoke to the geneticist, it became clear that our life was turning upside down. The next few days were filled with prayers, counseling from doctors, our friends, and families, and horrible decisions. It is surreal to me now that any of that happened. There isn't a day or week that goes by that I don't question everything that happened, or wonder what God's plan was for us. But on September 17th, 2010 at 5:40am we welcomed our beautiful precious angel Cole Jayden Howard, who was born sleeping.
I was able to hold him first and I don't remember how long I was able to hold him in my arms before I handed him to Mr. Howard. It felt like a long time, but I wonder if it felt longer to Mr. Howard. We stared at his tiny little face in wonderment and silently acknowledged the unspoken reality: this was it. This was the last time we'd hold him. This was the last time we'd see him (here on Earth, anyways). This was the last time we'd ever dress him or wrap him in a blanket. We studied his features, trying to memorize everything. These 4 hours are an absolute blur to me. I know that Mr. Howard held him while I slept and I held Cole while he slept. I know that at some point Cole had to leave for his photographs and that at another time they attempted to get better hand prints of him. I know that there weren't a lot of tears during this time, because it was so unbelievably surreal.
I had imagined that they'd put Cole in my arms and I'd burst into tears. I imagined that I would sob and sob and sob while staring at him and that there would be no way I could ever smile in a photo with him. But this was not the reality. While I was holding him, I was quiet. Somber. No tears. While I stared at him, I looked at his features and decided he had his Daddy's nose. No tears. Somber. I posed for a photo with him and smiled. How could I not? I was holding my son. I was holding my precious baby. I was holding Cole. This was the little boy I had wanted to meet from the very minute I had found out I was expecting. There was happiness amidst all the sadness because we had given birth to a precious baby boy. I look at the pictures now and see me smiling with Cole and can't understand it. I have no happiness now when I think of him. I think this is perhaps one of the big differences between losing a child who is older. I don't have any fond memories or funny stories. So even though in the moment I was happy holding my son, I look back and see only pain and sadness.
The next few weeks were a complete blur. We accomplished firsts we never thought possible. We handed over our baby to go to the morgue. We cried. We drove home empty handed. We told friends, coworkers, and family. We made the decision to cremate him. We went to the funeral home. We picked out an urn. We continued to wake up. We met with a social worker. We cried. We wrote an obituary in the newspaper. We continued to wake up. We held a memorial service for him. We received the photos the hospital had taken of him. We continued to breath. We opened his autopsy report and read it. We called the funeral home to pick up his urn. We continued to parent our other child Connor. We picked up Cole's ashes. We brought him home. We received food and flowers. We cried. We wrote thank you's. We went back to work. We answered questions like, "how many kids do you have?" and "how old are they?" We stared at his footprints. Our hearts continued to beat. We tried to remember the moments we had with him. We sobbed. We survived his due date. We talked about him constantly.

If you would have asked me two years ago if I could ever do what I did, I would have said emphatically, "Never! I would die." But somehow you don't. Somehow you keep waking up. Somehow you keep breathing, despite your nightly prayers to just be taken away. And somehow months pass and you think, "how on earth did I get here?"
Afterwards, we learned that Cole had multicystic dysplastic kidney disease in both kidneys. Only 1 in 10,000 people have it in both kidneys, but it is "incompatable with life" (if I never hear that phrase again, it will be too soon). While we are heartbroken and miss our precious angel every single waking moment, we are blessed. What we have endured is nothing compared to all the moms and dads who've encouraged us, cried with us, sent us emails and called us to share their stories. We feel humbled by our experience and grateful that we will someday be able to hold Cole in our arms. As we wrote in his obituary, "Some people only dream of angels. We were able to hold one in our arms."

I'm sure that you can tell by my blog pictures that my story doesn't end there. On December 15th , when I would have been 32 weeks pregnant with Cole, at an ultrasound to see the heartbeat of our third precious baby, we SHOCKINGLY discovered we were expecting twins. And then on June 30th, together with their big brothers Connor and Cole, we welcomed Aiden and Isabella into our hearts and families.  


Tesha said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi sweet mommy I am visiting from Kelly's link up. I am so sorry you had to walk this difficult path also. Our sweet son Jonathan was born sleeping on 1-24-12. You have a beautiful family and I am happy to have found your blog, of coarse I wish we were connecting under different circumstances.(((Hugs)))

daftsonographer said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi, Mommy! I, too, am visiting from Kelly's link. I am a sonographer (ultrasound tech) who works solely with high-risk mom's and their babies. I am so sorry you and your family lost your little one. I hope God provides comfort & you can rest easy in His arms.

Kristy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi, I am also visiting from Kelly's link. I just recently lost my baby boy at 21 weeks because of anhydramnios, we don't yet know the autopsy results to know the cause. I am so sorry that we are meeting this way and that we are in the same "club".

"The Mrs." said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am a new follower and also someone who linked up with Kelly's Korner today.

Ashley said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I found your blog on Kelly's link as well. I wanted to say how incredibly sorry I am for the loss of your son. I lost my son August 9, 2010 from SIDS and we also became PG (surprisingly) and had a another baby June of 2011. I like how you said that after something like this happens you just keeping breathing, waking up, etc...that is so true. I never thought I would make it a day without my son and yet I have, I wish so much that he was still here though :(

Your family is beautiful, the twins are so darling!

Elizabeth said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi...also from Kelly's link. We recently lost our son at 19 weeks and 2 days due to trisomy 18. Thank you for sharing your journey; we are contemplating trying again and I'm very nervous. Your success is very comforting!

Courtney said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I was hoping you would link up for this one when I saw it on the schedule!! So proud you guys are our friends. Your strength is amazing and inspiring. Even through the pain, tears and sorrow, to share Cole's story shows amazing strength and you are helping someone else just by letting someone else KNOW. It is sometimes the best feeling to know you are not alone. Your story and Cole's story and life are specific to you and Mr. Howard, but somewhere there is a mom and a dad being told their child is not going to survive, and they will find your story and not feel alone. Love you guys!

Nicole Rodriguez said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm also here from Kelly's Korner. You speak my words, and my pain. Our son was born still on March 26, 2006. Thank you for sharing your sweet boy with us...

LittleDreamer said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Love you.

Jennifer Ross said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Beautiful post..... The pictures of your family are absolutely precious!

I am so sorry to have met you through such terrible loss, but so thankful to meet other moms who understand how I feel....

SingerMamaMelody said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hey there,

I'm also visiting from Kelly's link up. I'm so sorry for your loss of Cole. Our baby girl Solveig Sofia was born still at 33.5 weeks gestation on February 29, 2012. So much of what you wrote is what I am experiencing right now...going through each day and having to keep on waking up and breathing through it all. Somehow He sustains us. Amazing, really.

I'm so glad to have found your blog, and I look forward to reading more.


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