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Today, is our second son, Caleb’s 30th birthday! But, he’s not here to celebrate this milestone.
My memories of that day have faded as some memories do. Possibly to save us from reliving the pain of the event. But, there are still bits and pieces that I can recall ever so vividly.
We were like most eagerly awaiting parents, excited to bring our little one into the world. We didn’t know if God was giving us a little boy or girl but we were so excited either way. (We didn’t think that He might call him home with Him instead)
We were busy painting the nursery, a nice happy and joyful yellow with white trim. Yes, yellow, that was a good neutral color for a boy or a girl. I was busy sewing blankets, pillows, crib bumper pads, and little decorations to add to the wall, like stencils of rocking horses. All of them matched perfectly, mint green, sky blue, pastel pink, a touch of yellow and purple. We were still working on preparing that happy little room for him when he decided to come a month early.(We found out later, I wasn’t as far along as we thought) In fact, I had just finished painting the crib the day before I went into labor.
When I first went into labor, we weren’t concerned, sure it was early but that was ok, we were going to get to meet our little one sooner, no need to be scared, right?
The labor seemed to be normal, just like our first child. Still no need for concern, only excitement. But, as my water broke, I remember thinking that it was a very large amount of fluid. (It ran all over the table and floor!) We would learn later, that was the Drs. and Nurses’ first clue something might be wrong.
Most of the rest of that day was a blur. Caleb was born, he had multiple complications and did a bunch of tests and after what seemed like an eternity, they told us they would not be able to keep him breathing. We had to make the decision whether to have him flown to a bigger hospital, which he probably would not make the trip, or spend the time we had with him there.
We chose the latter.
Being able to lay together, holding tight to our little one as he took his last breath is still something I cherish to this day. He only lived for about 20 minutes, but we were able to hold him for 3 hours.
It’s strange because no matter how hard I try to recall that moment we had to hand him to the nurse and say Goodbye, I can’t…I think I am thankful for that.
I believe I went home the following day. And that is when it hit my husband and me hard. We hadn’t pulled out of the hospital parking lot only a few minutes and we both completely broke down. It was like we were leaving our baby behind, walking away from him. It was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through.
The next few days and weeks are another blur. Family and friends came to visit, church members brought meals, flowers were delivered, we made the arrangements with the funeral home. Here we were 26 and 23 planning our son’s funeral. I remember thinking how is this real? How can this really be something we have to do?
We went through the day numb. So many people joined us in saying Goodbye to our Caleb. Looking back now, I am so very thankful that we did have a funeral. It was an official Goodbye and a closure.
It’s funny, they say time heals, and that is partly true.
Time healed the:
- aching arms that only wanted to hold our son
- tears that fell down my cheeks when I thought I was doing alright
- pain I felt every time I saw another newborn baby
- stabbing pain I felt in my chest because our baby was gone
- longing for another baby
Through the years I have been able to thank the Lord for allowing me to go through something like that. No, I am not happy Caleb is not here to celebrate his 30th birthday today. But, I know he is having a bigger party than anything I could throw for him up in Heaven. And I know that someday we will be able to celebrate with him. The reason I am thankful is that I know a little bit about the pain and emotions others are going through when they lose a child. Each loss is different, but the pain is similar.
I’ve had people ask me how I handled going through this loss? They tell me how they could never go through something like that. But, you know, you can handle so much more than you realize. You do what you need to at the moment you need to. I believe God gives us the strength to go through it with His help if we ask. Believe me, there have been birthdays when it was incredibly difficult to handle, the memories of Caleb flooded my mind. And other birthdays that flew by and I remembered back fondly his little face.
God has been so good to us throughout the years. And like everyone else, we have had some wonderful, joyful moments that stay with us to this day, and we have gone through some very dark, hard times, but thankfully the memories of those fade as time goes by.
One thing that helped me get through those early hard days was to journal. I hit a very hard time a couple of weeks after his birth. Family and friends moved on but we still had that little nursery ready but empty, we still had an ache in our chest and a very heavy heart. I decided to go to a Christian bookstore and look for something, anything to help me move through the mourning and feelings I had. There I found a book called, Good Mourning, by Judy Gordon Morrow & Nancy Gordon DeHamer
It was an answer to prayer. Each chapter was like it was written just for me and what I was feeling. There was a few short questions at the end of each chapter and even though I didn’t journal on each chapter, the words spoke so deeply to me.
I often look back at what I did journal, the feelings, fear, pain, and regret I felt. It also helps me to see where I have come and how far I have grown and reminds me to look for others that I might be able to help and thank the Lord for the blessings He has given to us.
I would love to hear from you. Have you went through a loss, or maybe you are in the middle of a loss, I would love to hear from you. How can I help you?
Where Are You? A Child’s Book About LossBeyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child, Revised EditionThe Voice of an Angel: A Mother’s guide to grief and how to thrive after the loss of a childThe Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies?It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t UnderstandMy Grief Journey: Coloring Book and Journal FOR KIDSThe Gift of a Memory: A Keepsake to Commemorate the Loss of a Loved One (Marianne Richmond)Letters To Baby In Heaven: A Diary Of All The Things I Wish I Could Say – Newborn Memories – Grief Journal – Loss of a Baby – Sorrowful Season – Forever In Your Heart – Remember and ReflectMy Grief Journey: Coloring Book and Journal (For Grieving Parents)LParkin Mommy of an Angel Necklace Infant Child Loss Memorial Pregnancy Loss Miscarriage Stillborn (Necklace)Sterling Silver Loss Miscarriage Stillborn Infant Child Loss Memorial Sympathy Pregnancy Gift Engraved Mommy of an Angel Pendant Necklace（Infinity）Loss Memorial Keychain Mommy Daddy of an Angel keyring Set Miscarriage Keepsake Baby Memorial Jewelry Sympathy Gift for Infant Loss Child Loss