I did it again today. I told a mom that I have four boys … a five and a half year old and triplet 18 month olds. I held the conversation as if I had four warm bodies at the dinner table. As if I have four foreheads to kiss before bed time. Four sets of teeth to brush … four breakfasts to make in the morning. This is what I lead this woman to believe, yet it is a lie.
My reality is forever a lie. I have four children, yet nothing to show for it. I say that I have triplets, because I believe I do, yet I can’t prove it. I reply that I have four children, yet I have to go back and clarify … well I really have three, Owen passed away almost a year ago.
I don’t want to face that there are only five at our table. I don’t want to say that I have three boys. Yet three boys are my reality. Three meals, three faces, three kisses at night. When I tell people I have four boys am I in a state of denial? Have I not fully accepted that Owen died? I think I know that he died. I feel like I accept it … but if I really accepted his death would I still say that I have four children?
The medical examiner finally confirmed that the DNA testing came back negative. There is no evidence as to why Owen died. She said that I didn’t sound surprised by the results. I wasn’t. I knew it was going to come back inconclusive. I expected no answers. We didn’t opt to have an autopsy as a means to finding answers. We made the decision out of responsibility to Jaden, Logan and Weston. If there was something we could learn, we needed to find out so we could protect the children we had left.
I told her it was ok to stop looking for answers. It was time to close out his life insurance policy. We don’t need the money, but it’s just time to get the paperwork filed. I’m sick of getting the letters in the mail requesting a death certificate. I believe it’s going to state that the cause of death is SIDS. One of the words that no one thinks it’s going to effect them. I’ll never get cancer … until someone you knows receives the diagnosis. It never happens to you … until it does.
I look at the front door and I remember throwing the baby swing out-of-the-way to allow room for the stretcher to get through the front door. I remember wearing Doug’s fleece that night. The same fleece he wore while outside for our family bonfire tonight. Shit … life keeps ticking way … you keep wearing the same clothes … yet everything seems to be a lie. My reality is a lie. I have four children, not three.
The anniversary is on the horizon. Doug and I are flying his sister, Sherri, home. I’m ok …. really I am. My heart is a little heavier than usual, but it’s not too heavy. For the first time in my life, I am truly blessed with amazing, quality friends. I can’t tell you the amount of support I receive from my Supermom’s group at church. They were physically in my home the day that Owen got sick (hours before). They are forever bonded to my definition of who I am … simply because they were there. I can never forget their faces … they are burned into my mind just as the small details of the ambulance ride are.
Jaden crawled onto my lap this evening … mama I want to you to have another baby. I’m sorry, what?!?! I asked him why? He said because Owen died, we needed to have another baby. Is it crazy that I felt the same way? I wanted another child so badly after he died. You can’t replace him. Having another baby would never fill the hole of my dead child. Yet, Jaden has the same feeling like I do. There is a baby missing … so let’s have another to fill the gap. Do I feel like a child, or is he mature in his thinking? The line is blurred … grief is a fog that disguises clear lines.
The path is unknown. Unforeseeable. Sometimes I make the wrong turn … I find myself in the middle of a huge muddle puddle and must swim across the trench … in the cold and dirty water. Yet, I am not sorry that I made the wrong turn. I am not discouraged. I am thankful for the lessons I learned along the way. I praise God for my pain … it’s the proof I need to know that I am alive .. that I am real.
God is good – he has never left my side. And if you are in pain as you read this … he has not left your side other. He is there, whether you know he is there or not.
PS. I can barely watch this video … but it also screams of life to me. It forces me to remember his face with life. It forces me to acknowledge the nightmare I am living. He once had life. He no longer is alive. He is never coming back. Never.
I’m so sorry things are hard. In a way i completely know how you feel. I have four children. But only one with me. It breaks my heart.. Even when i have all three of mine together my step daughter’s missing. She’s literally missing we haven’t seen her in 3 years her mom took off with her and dissapeared. That little girl who i never met leaves a whole in our family that can’t be filled. I also placed a child for adoption and for years and still do now go to tell people about him that i did have that child. You will always be a mom of four. Just one is awaiting you in heaven to finish what you started. I don’t know if your religous or not. BUt my religion is all that keeps me going. Knowing that the children i have lost and the babies i have barried that never took a breath i will raise in heaven. There is a purpose to life. And all of us mother’s who mourn also will rejoice in heaven when we are reunited and able to raise them with no fear of the unknown because we will know all and understand it. I know you don’t know me but you are always in my prayers. I hope and pray for you each day. Let me know if there is anything i can do to help or if you just need a shoulder to cry on or vent. i know you have plenty but another is here. *hugs* from a stranger far away but just a message away.
Oh Mel. Tissues are now a requirement for reading your blog. Love you.
I am amazed at how you are able to express the exact same feelings I had. Do we all follow the same or similar paths, but in our own time? I don’t know, but your posts bring up a lot of memories for me 11 years later. But for some reason I can handle them. I read your words and think, “She’ll be OK. That family will be OK. And someday they’ll be more than OK”.
Wanting another child will never feel like a replacement. If you are blessed to have another, that new life will take its own place in your family as God wants it to. You’ll see bits of Owen in this child and you’ll see bits of your other children, and your husband, and you. And there will be times when you are seeing all this, that you will overwhelmingly feel Owen’s presence. And at some point, you’ll find a certain peace when telling people “how many” children you have.
As for the “lie”, well it just isn’t. My first children are twin boys. I’m raising one, while one has taken his place among the angels. We wanted our son to have A sibling, and well, he got FOUR at once- all girls. What I realized when stopped by strangers, or finding myself in new social situations is that *I* get to decide who knows our story. I choose who really is worthy of seeing that part of us. Sometimes, I’ve not told someone who ends up being in our social circle. I’ll later apologize, fill them in, and tell them I just wasn’t up to talking about it then, but I thought you should know. Sometimes I tell a random stranger and some times I don’t. I don’t know why, but I do know that in some way we REALLY touch the those who “get to know”. So tell who you feel like telling, and keep it to yourself if you want to. It doesn’t matter the reason. Because every time you don’t elaborate, your heart is saying Owen’s name, and HE knows it. HE knows when you think of him and HE knows he is not forgotten.
As your boys grow older, you’ll find that they’ll start telling the strangers about Owen and you’ll be sucked into a conversation when you really just want to get out of Target. But in the end, you’ll know that the person was touched in some way by your story. My girls, at about 4 or 5, would always point to their brother and say “and he’s a twin!” when strangers would ask about them. And I would end up having a nice conversation with someone. Maybe I needed it. Or maybe the other person needed. But just know, for now, that YOU choose who is worthy.
OH, and I forgot to mention, when someone wants to know where “the other one is”, you can simply reply “He’s with his Father.”
I realize that the musings in your blog are simply that….your musings. A way of pouring out your joy, grief, smiles and heartaches and, the reality is, probably most of what we say is our comments is simply a way for us to respond tanigbly. Our words are the hug we wish we could give you if we were there in person with you.
I have 4 beautiful children. Crazy, zany and all still here with me to love and kiss and hug. And, maybe- since reading your blog over the past year – they’ve gotten a few more hugs and ksses and love because I get reminded of the gift of them still being with me. I don’t pretend to know your heartache. Quite honestly, I hope I never have to understand that. But I still have words I feel compelled to share.
My cousin had a full term stillborn. He was her fifth child. She’d had issues in the earlier part of her pregnancy that maybe helped “prepare” her for the possibility that he wouldn’t be a living part of her family (if you can ever really “prepare” for such a thing). But the stark reality was that he was born perfectly fine with his cord wrapped around his neck. She had said during the pregnancy that this one would be her last, but after he was born, I remember telling my husband that I hoped they had one more. Not as a “replacement” but there is something to be said for having another to love. The did have one more. And then several years after that, another (an “oops”). And I wondered with the “number” issue. Does she say she has six or seven? I (and several other members of the family) went to the hospital to meet the handsome little guy that we would never get to see grow up. I held him. I loved him. Her sister-in-law (my other cousin) was due within days of each other, and my youngest is six months older than theirs, so every special event – baptism, First Communion, etc. – I’m reminded and hit with the bittersweet knowledge that there should be three cousins celebrating these events…not just the two girls. He is not forgotten. But the reality is, if someone were to ask her how many kids she has….either six or seven is correct. I’ve never asked her what she says. When I talk about having big families in our family I always tell people that I’m on the low end since I have two cousins who each have seven and I only have four. But if I heard her say that she has six, I wouldn’t think twice. Knowing Owen’s story, if I heard someone ask you how many kids you had, I wouldn’t think twice regardless of whether you said three or four. And if you were at a gathering and you answered three to one person and four to another, I wouldn’t think anything about that either.
On a side note, my sister informed me the other day that the latest trend in nails (according to Pinterest) is Angel Wings – where you paint your thumb and ring finger differently than the rest of your nails. I hadn’t heard such a thing (even though I’m on Pitnerest)…but hey, if she says so, it must be right 🙂 So, my daughter’s softball uniform is purple with orange writing, and I painted her nails last night in preparation for her game today. So, of course, her nails are purple with her angel wings orange. While painting her nails I kept thinking how appropriate that they were orange because of an adorable orange angel. There was a re-post thing going around Facebook a week or so ago about sending the message to 12 incredible women you’ve never met in person but know through Facebook. While I didn’t participate in the re-posting, you definitely would have been on that list..probably in the number one slot. Your story…Owen’s story… have touched me so personally over the past year that I feel I know you. That if I met you today, that we would carry on as friends. Not that you would know me… but simply because I feel so tied in. So, thank you for sharing your musings with us. Thank you for sharing your happiness and your sorrows.
I am so sorry for your pain. You do have four children and that is not a lie. Don’t feel like you can’t say that or that you are wrong. I say we have 3 boys-Jeffrey, 13 Jackson, 8 and Owen our sweet baby in heaven. That is the reality. I will always acknowledge him. I know you feel the overwhelming desire to “include” him and you should feel that. You are his mommy. You are bonded forever. He is alive. Very alive, just unfortunately somewhere else right now. Always thinking about you……Hugs. 🙂
I will never even begin to pretend that I understand this pain, YOUR pain . . . but I do know that while he will never return here, I believe Owen is very much alive! You do have four children that is not a lie, that is a reality. They may not all be living here on this earth, but they are all living. Three here on earth and one with our Lord making a place for the rest of his family who will one day join him in their forever home. God bless you each and every day. May you continue to find peace in your daily journey and peace in the sweet faces and smiles of the boys you are raising. You are a strong woman (who I’m sure doesn’t always feel that way and doesn’t even always have to act that way, we are all entitled to our weak moments). Prayers are with you as you approach one year.
P.S. I am the mother of a 4 yr old boy and 20 month old quads. That’s how I came across you last year, mutual MOM friends on fb. I prayed through all those difficult days last year and read every blog entry. I don’t check in as often now, but do once in a while and you are often in my thoughts!!
I am so sorry for your loss. WE lost our daughter Emily. She was our first and so far only. She will always be my baby. And when people ask if I have children I say yes. She is still my baby. Just like Owen is still your baby!
Once again I am so sorry for your loss.
My heart weeps for you, and as a mother who also lost her baby, I stand with you in your grief and cry for little Owen’s absence. My Lilly only lived 4 days and died in the NICU for reasons no one can tell me. “Unexplained complications during labor”. Lean into God. Let Him carry you through and do not feel the need to exclude Owen. He will forever be your child. And I think it must be a natural feeling to want another baby. I have been overwhelmed with the longing though I know nothing can fill the place where Lilly should be. I have a 2 yr old son and people may look at me funny when I say I have a boy and a girl bc they do can’t see her, but I don’t care. She is, as any mothers’ lost child is, always with me.
My son Zane is 19 months old. Every single time I put anything with orange on him, I tell him “This is Orange for Owen.” Every time, for almost a year.
I just wanted you to know that. We haven’t forgotten.
Hi Mel. I read a book this weekend that made me think of you. It is called “Heaven is for Real.” It is about a 3 year old boy who was very ill after a burst appendix and in the years after his hospital experience he told his parents about his experience in heaven and meeting Jesus. It is a great book…I did cry through at least half. But, since he had such a vivid experience (and all of his details are biblically based despite the fact that he was 3 and he didn’t KNOW any of those biblical details…things from Revelations and stories you would not be telling 3 year olds!) it gives an amazing picture of what heaven looks like. And, this little boy met his sister, who died in utero before he was even born. Because of his experience, the family now says they have 4 kids instead of 3. You might like it. Though I haven’t lived through anything like that, it gave me a great amount of hope. There is a grown up verison of the book, with the whole story. And there is a kids version of the book that has beautiful pictures and is much shorter.
On another note, I saw your posting a few days ago about planning a wedding for a couple and having the kids wake up during the phone call. Funny, I am a wedding and even planner also (15 years now!) and THAT is exactly the reason I took a planning sabbatical. I love working with brides, but I found having toddlers and brides in my life at the same time just wasn’t possible! So, I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor…especially with babies to take care of!
I pray for wonderful memories, the love of close friends and family and moments of peace during this time.
Thank you so much for your honesty! May God continue to build your faith in Him as you walk this life He has entrusted to you! I cannot imagine your hurt but I know God is a Redeemer, I can see you clinging to Him, keep clinging, keep walking, it’s worth it! But really I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty!!
Mel, you’ve done it again. I’m crying here at work while I do my mommy thing. At least no one can see me. You are an amazing person. And Owen is a great looking kid.
Mel. my heart aches for you. I do know that you are one strong momma, that’s for sure. I can’t believe its going to be a year. A year of the passing of such a beautiful handsome little boy. I’ve followed your blog for almost a year now, a year wow u for sure have so many of us following you. so many of us that you can call your friends even if you’ve never met us. God bless you and keep your head up.