In October 2013, there was a beautiful monument dedicated in Manahawkin, NJ. On this monument are names of babies who are gone but never forgotten. They will forever be in our hearts. Brayleigh Elizabeth is on this monument with many other babies who I have gotten to know through their moms with the TEARS Foundation.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I am not 100% sure how Sean feels about this. I am sure very similar to how I feel on Mother’s Day. I know it is hard because it wouldn’t be fair to Lorelai for us not to be just as happy as would be before Brayleigh. We will wake up, Lo and I will make breakfast, and celebrate the awesome dad Sean is. But something will be missing. Even though Brayleigh will be missing in person, she will always be with us in spirit.
I think that probably the hardest thing about Father’s Day is finding something for Sean. One of the things I like most are cards. I love getting/giving a card just because, holidays, etc… But trying to find a card in the card isle for a father who lost his second daughter is a lost cause. I know that a lot of people feel like this topic of pregnancy and infant loss is so hush hush. But please know that this is a real thing. 1 out of 4 women will go through what we went through or something very similar. For me I can get a card from Lorelai and add Brayleigh’s name. What about the many women who don’t have other kids? What do they give to the man that has been there for them every step of the way after their loss? What about the father’s that might have lost an older child? I am not saying that there needs to be a huge selection but just something that we can give to the men in our lives that deserve it the most. Something that acknowledges that they have a child in heaven.
I want to wish all the fathers with kids on earth and in heaven a wonderful Father’s Day!
There are few words that hit me like a ton of bricks.
“How many kids do you have?”
How does one answer that when you have a daughter but also had a stillborn baby? Do you say 2, and hope that is the end of the conversation? Do you deal with the guilt and just say one? or Do you put it all out on the table and say 2 one here on earth and a beautiful angel in the sky. I use a mixture of the 3 answers. Usually just saying 2 and changing the subject quick. Sometimes saying 1 and dealing with the instant heartache I feel like I have somehow betrayed Brayleigh. The people who I think will understand I use the last answer. One here on Earth and a beautiful angel in the sky.
“When are you having more?” “Wait til you have another.”
I did have more. I went through almost 9 months of pregnancy, almost 9 months of planning for Lorelai’s little sister, building hopes and dreams, and a c-section. I just didn’t get to bring home a baby. But I had another daughter. A daughter who was too special for Earth. A daughter who will always watch over us.
“Lorelai is so outgoing, wonder what your next will be like?”
You have no idea how much I wonder what my next one would of been like. Yes I have already had my next. She was born sleeping. I didn’t get to see what color eyes she had. I didn’t get to see what kind of personality she would of had.
“Wait til she has a little brother/sister to play with and take care of.”
Lorelai does have a little sister. One that she understands was here with us for a short period of time. She understands that Brayleigh is in Heaven and watches over her. What she doesn’t understand is that her little sister is not here with her everyday like all of her friend’s siblings. I see her take care and play with her baby dolls. She would of taken really good care of Brayleigh. I would give anything to have Brayleigh here to for Lorelai to play with and help me take care of her.
I know I can not expect everyone to know/assume/understand our situation. I do however want more people to understand that every 1 in 4 women will suffer a pregnancy loss. Please help us Break the Silence. More people need to know that this is more common then you would think.
The following is journal entry I wrote to Brayleigh on 4/25/12. Almost a month to the day we lost her. It is about her father.
My Dearest Brayleigh,
Your father has been a strongman. He continues to amaze me everyday. When we were in the hospital he was there every step of the way for me. When he came home from the hospital, he was my nurse, Even though it has been almost a month he continues to be strong for me. I could not imagine my life without him.
Now over a year later. Sean still amazes me. He does so much for our family. He makes sure that we have everything we need to survive and brings a lot of happiness into our lives. I will forever love this man!!
I recently found my journal that I started to write in after we lost Brayleigh. I am going to in the next couple days post them on here. It is amazing to go back and read them. I gives me more to remember on how I felt during the beginning. The first entry I wrote was on my schedule C-section day. 4/16/13
My Dearest Brayleigh Elizabeth,
Today is the day you would of been in my arms. Just 3 weeks away from being here. You were taken away from us at 36 weeks! These past 3 weeks have been the hardest in my life. With so many questions unanswered and so many hopes/dreams gone. Trying to explain to your big sister Lorelai that you are in heaven looking down on us with Grandpa and PopPop. The love and support of our family and friends is what is pulling us through right now. We had services and a burial with just our immediate family. The love and support from your grandparents, aunts and uncles has been above and beyond. They all saw you , got to hold you, and said their goodbyes. They will all hold you in their hearts forever and ever. As for your father, he has been my rock. Without him the loss of my baby girl would be more painful than it is already.
I until the moment we saw you was wanting you to be alive. As I was laying there during the c-section, I was praying you come out crying and breathing just like your sister. It was so hard to go 36 weeks just 3 weeks shy of our meeting day for you to now be gone. You were a mover and never stopped. To this day I sometimes feel like I can still feel you moving.
Love Forever Baby Girl,
If you look above you will see a heading with a title of 100 ways grief checklist. This is an idea that I got from another blog I follow. (stillbornandstillbreathing.com) I posted the checklist and I am going to try to either post pictures or write about each item on the checklist. I will posting the pictures on here and on Instagram so if you want to follow me on Instagram search @tessmullan. Also if you want to follow this journey with me you can post them in the comments and on Instagram make sure you use the #100waysofhealing so all the pictures go together. I will also be writing the date that I post the item. They will not go in order and will probably take some time to get done. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with me.
What to say about Mother’s Day??? I am full of mixed emotions. One side of heart is full of love and hope for Lorelai. On the other side is a longing for a Brayleigh. Would she be as crazy and loving as her sister. I wonder what they would be like together. I would love for Lorelai to have her sister to play with. Someone that she could take care of. She knows she has a sister but I don’t think she understands why her sister is not here to play with her like her friend’s sisters are. In the last week she has become more aware that her little sister is in heaven. From the beginning we have always explained to her the Brayleigh is in heaven and watches over us. We do go to the cemetery to visit Brayleigh and plant flowers. She has recently started to ask when Brayleigh will be coming home and when she will have a sister to play with.
The other day we were driving to school. Lorelai started asking me if we could go see Brayleigh. She said she wanted to visit her where the green, green grass is and the cool black fence. I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought maybe she had a dream about playing with Brayleigh. I asked her if it was in a dream and she said no, you know where all the other Brayleighs are. I said no I do not know and sure enough we go by the cemetery and Lorelai says…there mommy, I want to go there and see Brayleigh. She thinks that all the markers are other Brayleighs. I explained to her that not all of the markers are babies. I said there are a lot of people in there of all ages. This is an extreme conversation to have with a three year old on the way to school but this is our new normal now. I love the fact that deep down in her heart she will grow up with the knowledge that she has a baby sister. As she grows older I feel like she will have more questions and more understanding of this knowledge. She truly amazes me everyday and even though I have a daughter on Earth and one in Heaven, they both fill me heart with joy and love. I also think that Lorelai will forever carry a part of her baby sister in her heart.
I want to wish all the mothers with kids on earth and in heaven a wonderful Mother’s Day.