This October, a leader in helping break the taboo of baby loss, Carly Marie, decided to start a photo challenge called Capture Your Grief. It is a photo-a-day challenge during the month of October, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I have kept up with this project on Face*book, but I wanted to post it on here as well.
Day 1: Sunrise
Tomball, TX 7:25am
Day 2: Before Loss Self Portrait
This photo of Greg & I was taken at his brother's wedding, 5 days before Chase was born. This is the only photo I have of me while pregnant, and while it's not my favorite picture, it's the only one I have. After waiting 5 years to become pregnant, we were so excited to finally become parents. Here we were happily waiting to have our anatomy scan in 3 days to find out if we were having a boy or girl.
Day 3: After Loss Self Portrait
April 27, 2012
This picture was taken on the day of Chase's funeral. Since I was so drugged and mostly unconscious during the time he was born and afterwards, I only had a very short time to see and hold him. I demanded that we were able to have time before the service started to see him so I could really look at him, take pictures and remember him. Walking away from him and leaving the cemetery that day is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
Day 4: Treasured Item(s)
Besides the few pictures we have of Chase (which I will re-share later), these are the most treasured items I have of his. The outfit is the first and only outfit we bought for him right after finding out he was a boy! Obviously he never got the chance to wear it, but it will always be his. Then there are the ultrasound pictures from the anatomy scan, 2 days before he was born. Next are his footprints which are probably truly my most treasured item - proof that he was here and he was a baby, not just a "fetus." The little hat was given to us by the hospital and while it was way too big for him and he never wore it, it was also his. I carried that hat around with me everywhere I went for the next two weeks.
Day 5: Memorial
This was a picture I took the first time we saw his headstone. You can see that there is still a lot of dirt there and the grass was just beginning to grow in. It is a very powerful thing to see your child's name etched in stone.
Day 6: What NOT to say
Please don't tell me it was God's plan. I do believe that God has a plan for my life, Greg's and our son's life, but saying this implies I should just be ok with it and not upset that my son died. While I am still "young" compared to others, I could have another 100 babies and NONE of them would make up for or replace Chase. It also took us 5 yrs to conceive him, so there is no guarantee we will ever be able to have more children. God didn't create my son and then have him die in order to create an angel. My son isn't an angel - he's just a baby that died. If God needed another angel, he would just create one. Last, but the most important - please don't say nothing! I know you may not know what to say, but ignoring me and saying nothing hurts and makes me think you don't care.
Day 7: What TO say
I know it is very hard to know what to say after someone goes through something like this. For me, these are the best things to say - I'm not expecting anything profound, I just want to know you acknowledge my loss. Also, please say Chase's name, ask questions about him, ask how I am doing, etc. You will not be bringing up a bad memory - I LOVE to speak about my son and answer questions about him.
Day 8: Jewelry
This is my necklace that I wear every single day. The front has Chase's actual footprints engraved on it (smaller though) and the back has his name and birth info. It has gotten a little scratched up, but I guess it's because I wear it all the time. Whenever I am thinking about him, I will reach up and grab it...it just helps me feel close to him.
Day 9: Special Place
I guess out of all the places there are, the cemetery where Chase is buried at is probably the place where I feel the most at peace and connected to him. The cemetery has never really been a sad place for me to visit - I enjoy going out there...to me it is a very beautiful, peaceful place. However, that being said, I also feel close to him being outside on a beautiful, sunny day nearly as much and I don't need to go to the cemetery to feel close to him. I know that while his body is there, his spirit is not. But I do like that we have a place where his body is laid to rest, where his name is on a stone and we can bring him flowers, etc.
Day 10: Symbol
The symbol I associate with Chase is a dragonfly. That's not to say I think he died and became a dragonfly and that he flies around me. I just remember right around the time he died, there were dragonflies everywhere - at the cemetery, in our backyard, landing on the car, etc. So I guess that is why I started associating them with him. Whenever I see one, it's just another little reminder of my sweet boy.