I laid in the bed, staring at the wall. I knew I was in the hospital, but I couldn't process what the doctors had just told me. I was pregnant. My swollen belly confirmed it. I felt my son squirming and kicking inside of me. But every few minutes the contractions gripped me in pain, confirming what the doctor had explained- I was in labor. My cervix was open and there was nothing they could do to close it. My baby would be born soon and they couldn't stop it. It didn't matter that he was perfect, my body was broken. He was still too young for this world and wouldn't survive. In a few short hours I would meet the shell of my son, his soul would already be gone. I would hold his hands and trace his features with my fingers. I would kiss the top of his head and wrap him in the swaddle I had made just for him. 

But then we would leave the hospital. Without him. And we would need to bury him. 

To the rest of the world, his existence would be a secret. No one would ever know. But to our family, he was as real as anyone could possibly be. And I didn't know how to process that. 

The nurses started asking me questions- what did I want to do with his body? which mortuary did we want to use? did we want a death certificate? did i have any special wishes for him? 

In between the tears and the contractions, I took to google. Surely others had done this before me. There had to be a guide or something, a way to answer the questions through the mist of death that was slowing filling our hospital room. I knew our time with our precious son would be so short, I wanted to take all of him in. But we also had to deal with what it meant, practically, to lose a child. 

A few days later the questions came again- did we want to bury or cremate him? where did we want to bury him? how much did we want to spend on a plot? did we want to purchase a plot for ourselves where he could be buried too? which plot did we want? which casket did we want? what kind of service did we want?  

I all felt so cruel, but time doesn't stop to allow you to grieve before all these things need to be done. And, I suppose, there has been healing mingled with the grief. One day I broke down as we were putting together the program for his funeral. I realized that this was the only thing I would ever be able to do for my son. I would never have a baby shower for him or plan a birthday party. This was it. So making it special and personal felt like a way to embrace him as my son rather than the trauma that had marked our experience so far.  

So, this is a catalogue of how we walked those days following his death. Oh, how I wish no one will ever have to read these words. But if you find yourself in this devastating place, I hope this offers some comfort and help. 


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