Day 25: A Family Photo

August 25, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 25

"To witness the birth of a child is our best opportunity to experience the word miracle."
Elijah's birth was a silent one. There was no newborn baby cry, no "It's a Boy!" or "Welcome to the world, Elijah!" There was no cheer, no "Oh My God, he has so much hair!" There was only the quiet and whispering of nurses. The only sound and movement I could hear are of bodies shuffling around the room.

You can obviously see that I didn't give birth to a full-term baby and that as new parents, we aren't smiling. But, this doesn't mean that I didn't want to, I wanted to smile so bad. I never imagined that this would be our very first and only family photo. This is all I have of the three of us. This is what days of no sleep and crying looks like. 

It's confusing, awkward really, when a nurse asks you if you would like to take a family photo after your baby just died. 

Do we smile? Do we say "cheese?" Do we present our baby like it's a cake?

Or, am I supposed to be crying in this photo to show some kind of proof that I am hurting? Or, do I put on a brave face and hide my disappointment? 

Like my haggard and frizzy hair, I am in a state of shock and exhaustion from a night and early morning of labor and I really did try to fix my hair. But, who really cares? This is reality, this is real, this is what losing your child looks like. This photo has already made a huge statement, there was no need for perfection or to cover up anything.  

I couldn't cry that day for some reason, you can see on my face that there wasn't anything left inside of me. I'm just a vessel with frozen emotions, yet to discover what these emotions were. Nevertheless, I cried so much days and hours prior to his birth that this day was somehow the day I ran out of tears, not until the next day when it all had finally hit me. 

I don't know why, but I have to mention that I hate calling his birth also his death and passing. And for someone who doesn't usually use the word 'hate,' this really makes an even bigger statement. 

If you are a dedicated reader of my blog, you will see that I use the terms interchangeably. But, I honestly have to say that the word 'death' is too harsh, too cold to use to describe the life of my son who "never lived." Yet, at the same time, death is a great way to boldly say that I am hurt. You can say that I might be in denial, but I hope that you can understand that it's difficult to accept having given birth (life) and death to your child! It's difficult to accept that on your child's birthday is the same day that your child died. 

What more could I say other than the fact that his birthday should only be a birthday, not a death day. However, this is what we live with, we live knowing and accepting that his birthday is also a tragedy. 

Despite the secret judgments of if I am doing this for attention or not, this photo is of my family and there is no sense of guilt inside of me for showing the world the nakedness of death and power of life.

I had to realize and accpet that not everyone is going to say that our baby is adorable or have these "oooh's" and "ahh's." Very few well call him cute. 

This photo is my vulnerability and my courage to reveal my vulnerability. This photo reveals true compassion (in others and ourselves) and our love for Elijah. This photo is not about us, but rather about our son. 

In the future, I will have no shame in showing this photo to Elijah's brothers or sisters. I want them to know about their Angel brother in Heaven and that because of him, I love and am highly grateful for them, much more than I would have been because of Elijah and what had happened to him. I want them to know that just like how he protects and guides mommy and daddy, that he will always protect and guide those who come after him.

As I look at this photo, Elijah is the one who first captures my attention. Seeing him still makes me painfully happy. Because this was the life living inside of me, the life that we created from a miracle we never thought was possible.

He is still our little miracle.

To read more about my 30 Day Writing Challenge For Stillbirth Mothers, click here.
Please let me know if you would like to join and I will include you in my final thoughts about this writing challenge in a blog post on Aug 31, 2017

Don't forget to hashtag: #30DayWritingChallengeForStillbirthMothers

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