The Holidays

Ryan is our second child. He has always been very patient. He definitely did not inherit that from me. Earlier today he had been saying something, but I had not been able to understand him. Ryan does not give up. Nor does he throw a fit. By the evening, I started to hear him a little better. “Green Eggs and Ham Show,” he says. “Ohhhh…,” I say. The Lorax. And I show him the DVD case, and he says yes. How he ever related the two, I do not know. I do not think I ever mentioned Dr. Seuss being the author of The Lorax. As I thought about how cute he was in his persistence, and being satisfied that I finally understood him, I remembered how we watched this movie a lot earlier this year. While Emily was still in my tummy. And I had a good amount of morning sickness, just as I had with our boys. We would watch The Lorax at least once a day. Okay, sometimes two times because I was just so exhausted. I would push “Play” again, as I was running over to the toilet for the tenth time or so that day.

And as we approach Halloween, I remember our oldest, Matthew saying to me last year, that our baby would be a firefighter, just like his brother Ryan, and him. I remember driving around at night time to look at the Christmas lights with the boys, a couple of months later, and us all just loving it. Usually Ryan would get fussy, he was a little over one then, and we would head home. Matthew craved more lights. But, I said that we would have to head home. I said next year, Ryan will be a little older so he will last longer. But that Daddy would have to take them out to see the lights, as I would be busy putting our baby down for bed. 

Neither of our boys were and are fans of Santa Claus. So, when the yearly Santa picture arrives to be done and checked off the list, they both cling to me until I try to reassure them saying, “Okay, time to sit with Santa. He is a good guy. It is okay. Really.” Last year they were against the whole idea again. I even considered getting in there as a family, as we did one year. Sometimes I wish that we had, as it would have had Emily in it. And it would be her only picture with Santa. I pondered what Christmas stocking color I would be sewing in the coming year. White for the girls. Red for the boys. We had three red ones already hung. And my white one. What color will it be?

And as I come up to the day that we found out that we were pregnant with Emily, November 16, 2012, I think about how, little did I know how much our lives were about to change in the coming months. That we would not have those memories we dreamt and hoped for in our heads. I remember spelling the word, “G-I-R-L,” to Chris, my husband, Emily’s daddy, after the 13 1/2 week appointment that I had in which I was told that we had a female on the way. And the doctor was 80% sure. And that things looked very good. And then two weeks later told that there was no heartbeat.

I picked up a support group packet of cards, for ideas on topics, back in April. I flipped through them one day, and one really stood out. “How can you make the holidays more meaningful, and not dreadful?” I scribbled down that question right then, in my day planner, and entered it around mid-October so that I would read it approaching those days ahead. And I did the other day. And I was reminded to take a step back.

The holidays will not look the way I envisioned them a year ago. We announced our wonderful news at our Thanksgiving get together last year. This Thanksgiving will not look the same. But, we will always have our little angel watching over us. For life. I am thankful for all of the lessons that Emily has taught us this year. And continues to teach us so much with each day. She humbled us. Greatly. I look at Matthew and Ryan a little longer after I have put them down for bed. They are blessings. And so is our Emily.

Some bereaved mothers I met with recently agreed that it is nice to create memories with our loved babies in the coming years, and during the holidays. Even having traditions. One bereaved mother, whom lost her son five weeks after being born, said that they put out a Christmas wreath at the cemetery where he is buried, and add a new ornament each year. Another bereaved mother, said that they put her son’s stocking up, above the fireplace, just as they do with all of the other family members. They lost their son when he was 18 weeks in utero.

I was already planning on still making that white stocking and stitching “Emily” at the top of it, just as I had with our boys. Though hearing their stories confirmed, that it is okay to want to remember and include your baby that died, especially during the holidays. Because they are and always will be, a part of your family.