May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Girls and their Brothers

You never truly get a chance to walk the same path twice in life. Yes, we have lost two children, both boys, both carried to full term, both diagnosed with Potter's Syndrome bilateral renal agenesis at 19-20 weeks in utero, both born alive, both died within three hours. Between those lost little boys are three very alive little girls. Little girls who have been told, since birth, about their big brother Wyatt. Girls who visit his grave throughout the year and recognize the cemetery where he is buried from the interstate. Girls who are excited for his birthday each year because it means they get to bake, decorate and eat cupcakes at his grave and then release balloons to heaven. Girls who, a little over two weeks ago, said hello and goodbye on the same day to their newest baby brother Eli. Those girls are where our path has diverged. They were not there, not even contemplated as we walked down Wyatt's path. And so we began another path with Eli, a familiar path but not the same. There are five of us walking this path, not two.

My husband and I have dealt with this loss, this grief before. Our children have not. The oldest and youngest have taken it all in stride. My two year old sees me crying and merely asks, "Are you crying again?" or "Are you sad about baby Eli?" I'm not sure the six year old even notices it. She's all business, planning for me to have twins next and for one to be a boy to replace Eli. That stings. Many times I've had to explain how no baby could replace Eli and how she did not replace Wyatt, each one is so special and loved. It's our five year old that tugs at my heartstrings. The one that couldn't have held Eli enough, the one whose hands are in so many of our pictures of Eli, stroking his little face and body. The one who took the most pictures of him the day he was born. The one who sat with me at the funeral home and cried over her baby brother. The one who stayed behind at the gravesite holding my hand and sobbing along with me while my husband and other daughters tromped back to the car. The one who snuggled in bed with my husband and I while I cried one night and told me that when I cry she feels like crying too. The one who has asked me over and over why we can't unbury baby Eli and bring him home. If only it were so simple.

Since November I've hurt for my girls, anticipating how the grief, how they would handle Eli's birth and death. How they would carry their brothers' memories. I've read literature on children and grief but nothing can prepare you for a child looking you straight in the eyes and asking why you can't just unbury her brother and bring him home. Nothing can prepare you for how to answer your children when they ask if we will bring "the next baby" home or whether they will have another brother. Just as I did after Wyatt, I find myself putting all my eggs into one basket and this time I only have one basket left. This time it's not just for me to heal or to find good and beauty in the world again. This time it's about putting beauty back into my children's world. It's not about filling my arms because my arms are full. I've been very blessed to have held five newborns that I can call mine in my arms and to have held two to the end of their lives. This time my arms don't ache, just my heart and it doesn't just ache for me.


  1. Wow Mandy. Very powerful. I hurt for you, your husband and your girls. Not having any children when we lost our daughter, all we had to worry about was our own grief, not that of a child. I can't even imagine. I prey for strength, that you can help your girls through this; and that you can make it through as well.

  2. Mandy, I love you! That's the most honest thing I can think of to tell you right now. I bet that's weird to hear from a stranger, but I mean it!

  3. i am so so sorry you have to go through this and that your children have to also. worrying about our babies here and there is so hard. sibling grief is so hard too, as a mother you just want to fix it for them and make it all better. i have no real advice or insight. just want to let you know, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Oh goodness Mandy, your post just brought me to tears. Reliving again those moments you spoke of that no one else but my close family knows of. The moments with my 5 year old confused and crying when the funeral home came and took her sister away. Watching my 13 year old completely broken and crying holding his sister, not able nor wanting to let her go. Those private moments... no one else knows we suffered through.

    I've been trying so hard this past month to take a step away from the grief and live again for my children. Your post brought me right back to those painful memories. I ache so much for you and the place you are in right now.

    We tried to have another baby through a surrogate just a few months ago. My daughter Emma prayed every night and begged God to let us keep that baby. Our surrogate had a miscarriage. The thought of my daughter thinking that losing a baby is normal, haunts me.

    I am shipping your package tomorrow. It's spring break for my kids this week and it's been busy.

    Thinking of and praying for you.

    Love, Valerie

  5. Thank you all, my children's grief has just been so heartwrenching, probably more than my own. Valerie, my heart goes out to you and your family as well, I know you know all too well the pain that I speak of. I am so very sorry to hear of your & your surrogate's loss, such unnecessary pain for you all. I remember with this pregnancy the ONLY thing I prayed for was a healthy baby, I prayed so much it was almost a chant. I will pray for our families to get our much deserved and much desired rainbow babies.

  6. * Tears keep a' coming down.*
    This must be so difficult. I can relate to a small degree in that I get asked by my little 4 year old niece that only met TanaLee once (due to nicu- rules), "why did TanaLee have to die?","I miss TanaLee,why can't I just hold her again?" I cry every time. I also get asked by youngsters in my religious meetings why I no longer have a baby and were are they?....It is so hard to hear these comments and questions. I can't imagine how it feels daily for you.
    My heart goes out to you and your girls. I hope that life will treat them gentle and give them assurance that one day they will meet your boys.

  7. I know it's normal to be more sensitive after our loss, but I've experienced quite the opposite. Things that used to make me cry because "I just couldn't imagine", seem petty in comparison with what I've already been through. Your post made me cry. Now that I have a baby of my own to take care of, I can't imagine holding her sobbing body while she breaks into a million pieces over HER loss, too. I've talked to so many women who had other children before their loss, but you put it in such a raw way, that I can understand it. I can FEEL the pain in your girls' hearts and in yours over their heartbreak. God will bless your family again, I know he will.



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