On September 20th 2004 my son Joshua Tucker was born. His body was with us but his soul had already moved past this world. Our birthing story for our second son is one of tragic joy. It started September 19th, as my husband and I sat resting on a Sunday afternoon, I felt off. Like something had changed. I assumed it was the fatigue of pregnancy, my joys of a dear friend having gotten married the day before and the dreams of my two little ones becoming the best of friends as they grew up together. The worries I had of them only being fourteen months apart and the thoughts of how life would most definitely change. When the pains started and the blood showed up, my heart sank and we rushed to the hospital.
They searched for his heartbeat while our families gathered in the hall just outside the door. I remember hearing them talking and light laughter echoing while the nurse spoke the words I chose not to believe. “We can’t find his heartbeat, do you understand what that means?” I wanted to tell her she had better find it. Either she lost his heartbeat or I lost my baby. I had kept him safe, I had protected him safely in my womb, why was she not able to locate his little sweet heartbeat? We had just heard it, we had just been to the doctor. Where could it have gone?
They sent me home and explained to Caleb that things would get worse before they got better but it would be more comfortable for me to be in my home. So, like good patients, we listened and left the safety of the hospital. We didn’t stay gone for too long. As my pain progressed and the blood wouldn’t stop we headed back to be taken care of, to be monitored and safe. Unfortunately, things progressed much faster than the nurses had expected and Caleb and I delivered our sweet boy on our own. No one there to help us, no one with experience to walk with us. It wasn’t at all what we had expected to go through when this little man was born. We had talked about how he would play with his brother and that I would be completely out numbered.
My mother-in-law came to be with me and her baby boy while we sat there in so much pain. She walked in and kissed my cheek, and then she saved my life. I was losing a lot of blood, I was unaware of my situation. All I knew was I felt like life was draining out of me. She was outraged that no one was there to take care of me and went to find help. My life was in danger and she knew it. I don’t remember a lot after that. I knew I was safe because Caleb and his momma made sure of it. I knew my little boy of nine months old was safe because my momma was holding him at home making sure of it, and I knew that even though I wouldn’t see my little Joshua grow up, his first breath was heavenly and pure.
My emotional healing took quite a bit longer. I was a ticking time bomb of emotions. I had no clue how to breathe or speak. I didn’t want to talk about our little boy but I couldn’t not talk about him. No one wanted to hear the story of our loss but they needed to know what happened. It was a tragic limbo of confusion.
Every year, just around his birthday, I get sick or emotionally stressed, my body feels off or I find myself needing to rest more than usual. I didn’t know why at first. I was confused by my weakness.
I began to realize it always seamed to happen at the same time every year and I finally understood what was happening. Even though our hearts know Joshua is safe, our bodies still mourn our loss. Even though we have been blessed to see beautiful things happen, we have been blessed to help others through their own losses by sitting with them, praying with them and fighting for stability along side of them because we too know this pain. It doesn’t change the fact that every year our bodies need to rest in God’s love, they need to be comforted and soothed.
Our little Joshua Tucker is a constant reminder that life is a gift and every moment that we breathe holds value.
Every September I spend quite a lot of time watching my daughter. She was born the following July. It is too big to comprehend all that is possible to have been if Joshua had been born full term and healthy. I can imagine thousands of possibilities. One thing I know though is that my Sarah would not exist. Their pregnancies overlapped. Her timeline could not have been had his continued. Her heart would not have started beating if his had not stopped.
For his birthday today I made him cookies. I have never done this before but I couldn’t help myself. I found myself in my kitchen baking and thinking of who he might have been at this point. Would he be into science like his older brother or would he have enjoyed more sports? Would he have a talent for singing like his sister or would he be a Minecraft guru too?
I didn’t make a big deal out of the cookies, I didn’t tell the kids why I made them. They just needed to be made to help celebrate the little life that is still teaching me about life. Sarah, my little ray of sunshine, came in the kitchen and was thrilled to help make the cookies. She got out the scoop and started placing the dough on the pans. After she had all the dough scooped out and perfectly placed on the cookie sheets I let her lick the scoop. It’s one of the ones that is round and has the bar that pushes the dough out so you don’t have to use a spoon or bang it on the pan. I turn to put the cookies in the oven and when I look up at her she has the entire scoop in her mouth. Her eyes are wide with joy and she is laughing around the mouth full of cookie dough and scoop.
She is our beautiful blessing. Loosing our little boy will never make sense, it will always be a painful and tragic moment in our journey. However, we recognize that God is love and although we only know our son through pregnancy and dreams un-lived, we know our daughter through giggles and songs that would never have been.
I do not know why many pregnancies do not go full term. I do not know why little lives get taken before we want them to be. I don’t know why some parents will bury their children, but I do know that I have my daughter even though I don’t have my son. I know that I have music and fluffy dresses and mascara even though I don’t have him here to wrestle with his brother or play video games or basketball with his daddy. I have found joy in this tragedy. I have found that life is precious and every moment has its purpose. Not all of it makes sense, some of it feels too painful to handle and parts of it make me too angry to see straight, but I have faith that there is beauty from pain, we just have to breathe and look for it.
To any of you who share your own version of my story, to you who have family who do or friends in need, be kind to yourselves. Be kind to the moments that hurt too much to stay awake for, rest in the understanding that although the pain will not change your view, love will. Your loss is tragic, our stories are hard, but together we can find joy and rest in love. Love for ourselves and for our little ones. My little Joshua has had twelve years heaven lived. He may not have me to teach him about this world and to hold him in my arms but he has taught me how to love indefinitely, how to believe that life has value even when it isn’t lived on earth.
May you know that there is always help and love if you reach out for it. May you know that you are not alone in your loss and pain.