Friday, May 29, 2020
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For As Long As I Carried Him

Calvin at 13 weeks 2 days (January 29, 2009)
Calvin at 13 weeks 2 days (January 29, 2009)

4 1/2 months ago, I went in for an ultrasound, excited to see my baby, to learn whether my first child would be a boy or girl, to call my son by name, to bring home another picture. I could not do any of these things that day. 4 1/2 months ago, I was 18 weeks pregnant… 4 1/2 months pregnant. So after today, I will be without Calvin for as long as I carried him. And this life I must live without him feels so long.

It hurts knowing that I should be 9 months pregnant and preparing to meet him and take him home.

It hurts remembering the therapist who said oh good, you didn’t have to make that choice, because we had. we made the choice to keep our child.

It hurts that the feelings of pregnancy have faded.

It hurts that I can’t fully remember all the details of his face anymore.

It hurts that people have chosen to not talk with me about what happened; it feels like they never even knew I was pregnant.

It hurts that Louie is hurting so badly, but no one reaches out to him because he’s a man, and people don’t realize that sometimes it’s harder for him than me.

It hurts because it feels like I’m losing Calvin all over again. It hurts because sometimes it feels like I was never pregnant with him.

… I just hurt.

This Is What It Feels Like:

I came across this piece on the community message boards on, in one of the loss support groups. I think it does a good job of conveying what it’s like to lose a child. I share it because I hope it can help those of haven’t experienced this to gain some insight into what Louie and I are going thorugh (and I fervently pray to God that you never do). I also share it for those of you who have lost a child (or children), because I have found some validation and comfort in knowing that I am not alone in these feelings.

You are walking along fine with everyone else and the sun is shining and all is well, then you walk SLAM into a brick wall. And it hurts – it really hurts. It hurts your head and your chest where your heart is and your stomach. And it shocks you as only slamming into a brick wall can. It stops you dead in your tracts. And you stand there thinking, “How did I not see that coming? What the hell happened? How could someone just do that to me?” And you look around and everyone else seems to be walking around the wall. They are carrying on like nothing happened and the sun is still shining for them. They don’t even see the wall. They don’t even know it’s there. And you realize you didn’t even know it was there until you hit it – you didn’t even know there was a brick wall you could hit – not now, not at this stage. And slowly you pull yourself back together. The pain in your stomach has turned to a sick feeling and your heart still hurts, your mind racing with questions about this brick wall – How, What, Where, Why??? Mostly WHY??? Why on earth would someone make you walk into this wall – why did they have to put it in front of you and no one else?

And you can walk again now the pain in your stomach and maybe your legs has lessened. So you slowly make your way around the wall and to the other side. But it doesn’t look the same on the other side. It’s greyer and emptier. And you know you’ve left something behind – something very precious and you want it back. So you turn around and there is the brick wall behind you and it seems to hit you with the same force again when you realize you can’t go back. It’s blocking your path and it will always be there. You pummel your fists on it and cry and shout at it but it’s unbreakable and absolute. It won’t let you get your precious bundle back – that has to stay on the other side and you must carry on without it. You can’t go back to the path you were on before you hit the brick wall – it’s impossible. So all you can do is go forward and walk on from it. But it’s hard going and your legs don’t seem to want to walk away from it. You know when you look over your shoulder it will always be there. It may fade a bit from view but if you look closely you will always be able to see it – even in the distance. And you look around you again and see all the people who never hit the brick wall carrying on too. You tell some of them about the brick wall and they sympathize – it must’ve hurt they say. You are looking very well despite this brick wall – you have no cuts or bruises on the outside because those heal. So you must be doing ok then now they say. “But my wounds are on the inside!” you feel like screaming. How can you not know about this brick wall – why couldn’t you walk into it instead of me? And then you feel bad – you know you wouldn’t really want anyone else to walk into that wall.

Some people are ok – maybe they have seen the wall themselves in the past or came close to it – maybe they are really good friends/family who close their eyes and do try to imagine walking into the wall. They are the ones who help you keep walking away from it. People tell you that you’ll never hit this brick wall again – it only appears once in your life. And you want to believe them even though you can’t ever be sure. Up ahead it looks like maybe your path does cross back into the sunshine again – the same sunshine that everyone else is basking in. And you can maybe just make out another bundle waiting for you to pick up and carry with you for the rest of your life. And maybe if you are strong and keep moving forward then you’ll reach it one day. But it’s not the same bundle as before – it can’t be. That one is behind the wall. The wall that’s always there if you look over your shoulder. And written on it forever more is the message in letters a mile high, that only you can see – My Darling Baby. RIP

Rachel Butterworth. “Stillbirth – The Wall.” Footprints. 2006: 2. SANDS: Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity. (Written for her daughter Rhianna, born sleeping 10/16/05.)

Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

0 thoughts on “For As Long As I Carried Him

  1. I hate imagining the pain you have from this experience, but can’t help but think about how much it must hurt you now that we have our own. I feel the guilt of being able to have our baby here with us while you and Louie are without. I hope you two are able to come home with a perfect little bundle as soon as you are ready to try again, so that the joy of bringing your baby home can help wash away the pain.

    1. April, please, please try not to feel guilty. I am so happy that you have sweet Mackenzie. Yes, their are times when I feel hurt and envious of others, but I would never, ever wish this loss on anyone. I continue to keep your family in my thoughts, and I hope you are all doing well.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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