This weekend was one of the most challenging weekends to get through, in my more recent days. The day Sephora was born was definitely scary. I was so sick…my husband tells me I was actually dying. Sephora was being taken from us 8 weeks earlier than we’d planned for. It was a whirlwind of a day filled with intense stress, fear, excitement, sadness, and anticipation. After we’d been told they were giving me a c-section, so Sephora had a chance to survive for a few minutes, we just held each other and cried. Our friends and family that were with us that day left the room, but all did the exact same thing. They circled the room and prayed for anything that they thought we may have needed for comfort.
Sephora’s birth was extremely overwhelming. Diana, a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer, joined us in the OR to capture every moment of her life outside of my body. When Sephora was born, they took her to the warming table to quickly warm her up, dry her off, and administer a little oxygen. When the oxygen didn’t work, (she was still very blue), my husband carried her over to me and placed her on my chest so I could experience a few seconds with her alive. After saying hello and kissing her forehead, I did exactly what I did to comfort her every single day while I was pregnant. I sang to her.
Sephora’s baby brother was born 9 days before her 1st birthday (2013.) We walked through “Sephora’s Garden” and celebrated with a few friends who decided to come over. It was small, quiet, and peaceful…just like her.
Sephora’s 1st Birthday
For Sephora’s 2nd birthday, we enjoyed the beautiful day as a family. We didn’t do too much actually. I’m not certain why this birthday was so much more emotionally difficult than her first. May it is because many people have moved on. Most have forgotten about her, or don’t talk about her as much as before. Why should I expect anyone to remember? She isn’t here anymore. That’s just it though!! She isn’t physically here. Those who weren’t in the thick of the experience with us are busy remembering dates for their own children. …and that’s ok! I wish more people talked about her. I wish more people remembered. I wish her story impacted more lives. Maybe one day it will. Until then…I’ll keep talking about her, looking for little signs that her spirit still surrounds us, and wishing she was still on earth with us.
I’m not sure when it happened. I’m not sure when I stopped thinking it was fun. I’m not sure I’m happy. I’m not sure why it is such a big deal. I’m not sure why I feel this way…
…Until Mother’s Day came.
As social media becomes filled with anthems for the “love of moms,” I reflected and spoke my thoughts out loud to determine my inner issue. I don’t feel like Mother’s Day is such a big deal. “Happy Mother’s Day,” I hear while I’m doing some last minute shopping for our 2nd child’s 1st birthday party. I respond with a quick, “Thanks,” and keep on going. I suppose I should be “happy” to be “honored” on Mother’s Day.
2 years ago on Mother’s Day, we went to church, and I was handed a red rose for being a 32 week pregnant “Mom.” Sephora was due in another 8 weeks. We had no idea that we’d be celebrating our daughter’s birthday 5 days later.
On this day, 2 years ago, we were blessed with a 3D/4D ultrasound from Sustaining Grace, where we received a recording of Sephora’s heart beat inside of a teddy bear. I was so happy to be able to get a glimpse of her, knowing our time with her was running short.She was still cozy and safe inside of my body.
I feel this way because she isn’t here. A part of me is missing. I don’t feel her like I used to. There are not an over-abundance of butterflies this year. I don’t see much of her signs anymore. The only sign of her that I see every day, is the dimple on her brother’s face.
I feel so scatter-brained. I can’t think straight. My heart aches for my daughter today, and there is nothing I can do to bring her back to me. She may be watching over me, but I can’t feel her! I JUST WANT TO FEEL HER SPIRIT!!!
It is hard to believe that Sephora would have been 1 1/2 years old already. As I sit and write today, I’m currently watching Miles play with his toys on the floor and crawl around the room to pull himself up using anything he can hold onto. It makes me wonder what Sephora and Miles would be doing together. Would she nicely share all of her toys? Would she be chasing the dog around the house? Would I be chasing her while she chases the dog around the house? I’d imagine she’d be dressed in something frilly with little curly pigtails in her hair.
The holiday season wasn’t as challenging as I’d imagined it would have been. We had our moments when we wished she were here to open presents, to giggle with excitement, and to make holiday crafts together. We spent the days as a family, enjoying our time while playing with our little rainbow baby boy. …and then I’d heard the ignorant comment through the grape vine, that someone couldn’t believe we were still talking about her. How could we still be grieving for her? Why haven’t they moved on? My answer is simple. Losing a child is completely different than losing a parent or other family member. It is unnatural for any mammal to bury a baby. Elephants, whales, monkeys, chimpanzees, dolphins…they all grieve for babies that have passed away. We all grieve for as long as we live. You should thank God that you’ve never had to experience as loss like ours. Hold your kids a little tighter tonight knowing they are safe in your arms and not in the ground or in a tiny urn on the shelf.
Some days I still wonder why our baby had to be the one to leave earth after 4 1/2 hours of life to be made an angel in Heaven. Why did she have to have Trisomy 13, a chromosomal abnormality that 1:16,000 babies get? She looked so perfect on the outside. Why did every cell inside her body have to be “abnormal?” For what purpose was she given to us, only to say goodbye so soon after her birth? The only reason I have come up with…she was made with love and born to show the world that something beautiful and perfect could be born and pass on into a better life. She taught us the real meaning of “love.” All Sephora ever knew was love. She knew love from her family, friends, and people who never met her. I had no problem telling anyone who asked when her due date was, that she wasn’t going to live very long. The amount of belly touching, with permission, was phenomenal! People asked us why we chose to carry and give birth to a baby who likely wouldn’t survive. My answer…She was my daughter. She was my first born. I sang to her every day. We worked out together. I loved her.
Sephora’s 1st Birthday was a day that we were really unsure how we’d actually feel. We woke up that morning to a crying Miles, who was ready to eat. We sat in the bed together and cried a little bit as we remembered our first-born baby, whose life was taken only 4 1/2 hours after her birth. We were reminded of her little noises she would make. Sometimes Miles even has a little whimper similar to Sephora’s. That sound really does take me back to that scary day.
We’d known for almost 3 months that our daughter was not going to live very long after she was born, due to her extra chromosome and diagnosis of Trisomy 13. Hearing the news at 20 weeks of gestation that our baby was going to die is something that was extremely hard to swallow. Sephora Angeline was born at 32 weeks and 3 days on Friday, May 18, 2102, at 10:25pm, due to me being diagnosed with severe HELLP Syndrome. She was blue at first and not really breathing on her own. The nurses told us we would only have seconds to be with her while she was alive. I did the only thing I’d done every day with her. I sang. She immediately responded to my voice, and she started to regain some color in her tiny little 3 pound 9 ounce, and 16 inch long body. She passed away peacefully in my arms at 2:50am on May 19.
It was a beautiful day to remember her life short life touched by many, and to celebrate it with her new baby brother, Miles.
As we draw closer and closer to Miles’ due date and Sephora’s birthday, I’m finding that my subconscious is becoming more and more fearful of repeating the past. Pregnancy definitely makes you dream some crazy things sometimes, but waking up in a panic and silently crying to myself is becoming more frequent these days. At every doctor appointment we attend, they assure me that our precious little Miles is healthy and growing as perfectly as any parent could hope for. My inner most being knows that he’s going to be ok, because of the amount of time he spends moving around in my belly, and by the way he responds when I sing to him. Singing seems to keep him calm, just like his big sister, our angel baby in Heaven, Sephora Angeline. My dreams remind me how quickly life can be taken away from us. They reveal to me my inner most insecurities about motherhood. They also reveal to me how much I love my children. Although Sephora only lived for 4 1/2 hours, I spent her whole life with her. Every movement, every hiccup, every kick, every ultrasound, her tiny whimper and cry, her beautiful curly dark brown hair, her tiny hands and feet…everything. I miss her terribly today. I’m thankful to be spending my morning remembering her, and singing to Miles about her. I’m reminded of the love I had and still have for her as I browse through her memory box and cry over top of her hand and foot prints. I remember how scary the day of her birth was, but how anxious we felt to finally get the opportunity to cradle her in our arms.
Miles is due in 58 days. As each day passes, the anticipation of his arrival heightens. As I speak to my friends and family, I’m finding that they are all just as excited for his arrival, if not more than me! We all really lived through Sephora’s life and passing together. She helped to change and mold us all. She walked us through an experience that not many people could recover from. She loved all that loved her, and that’s all she knew. Love. I pray Miles understands how wonderful his purpose for this Earth is to be, and how beautiful Sephora’s life was to all who knew her and her life’s story. These crazy dreams of Miles being ripped from my arms to never be seen again will eventually go away. I do know one thing…Miles will not be leaving my arms for a very long time after he is born. …The unconditional love of a mother is a beautiful thing. That’s exactly what Miles will experience for his whole life as well. Love. Unconditional Love.
1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT – Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…love never fails!
Please forgive me for my very long absence. The month of October was dedicated to Infant Loss Month. On October 15, we participated in The Sweet Pea Project’s 3rd Annual Remembrance Gathering. Bereaved families from the area get together at a local park to remember the babies that were taken from this earth too soon. We released balloons each balloon representing our lost angel babies. Since Sephora was born almost 6 months ago, and the Trisomy 13 took her away from us, we felt experiencing this gathering was something we should definitely be a part of. Again, Chris and I both had the opportunity to write a note to Sephora on paper made from wildflower seeds. We slid the paper into an environmentally friendly balloon which read, “You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered. We filled the balloons with helium and waited for the ceremony to start. When we heard Sephora’s name, we released our balloons that would fly off to the heavens. When our balloons reached their perfect altitude, they will pop, the seeds in the paper will fall to the ground, and wildflowers will bloom where they land. It was a beautiful ceremony. The picture that you see is one taken of me by my husband right after we released one of the balloons. Chris and I watched that balloon fly for as long as we could see until our eyes hurt and the balloon slowly disappeared from our sights.
The other day, I was repacking all of Sephora’s belongings into a sturdy container. It was a very humbling moment as I shifted everything around, because I started to remember her. At that moment, I was sad because I’ve gone on with my life. It made me realize how much I actually didn’t remember about her until I looked through all of her memorabilia. Even having her photos all over the house, until I take a few minutes to reflect and really search my soul for how I feel, I feel as though she isn’t part of my every day process. I’m told this is very normal. It is just very disconcerting to think I’ve forgotten about her beautiful life in some ways. I realize I still need to connect with those that read her story in this blog, so that I may continue to heal, and in some way have my own connection back to her.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 –Hope!
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
I have to say, today is my first “bad day” in a long time. After giving life to Sephora and losing her to Trisomy 13 almost 5 months ago, I suppose I am supposed to welcome the bad days with the good. I was just outside sitting on “Sephora’s Bench,” made by my dad, which overlooks Sephora’s Garden. Fall certainly is in full swing. There is a chilly breeze, leaves are starting to change colors, and the plants are slowly beginning to “die” or grow dormant. The plants in Sephora’s Garden are doing the same, and it saddens me. As I sat there, admiring her garden and watching it go to sleep, I was reminded of the day she was born. We were blessed to have 4 1/2 beautiful hours with her before her angel wings flew her off to Heaven. But the slow changes of her garden make me sad, because her garden will be dormant until new life begins in the spring. I cried for a few minutes as I began to feel closer to her in her garden. I miss her more than I am actually able to describe with words. A part of me is missing. A part of us is missing. Today, I try to speak words of truth, love, life, and wisdom. Yet today, it is a challenge that I am struggling to complete.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 ESV
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …”