Less Than a Day


Once in a while, something brings the shortness of life into full focus. Maybe it’s a tragic accident or a health scare. For us, it was the loss of our son. He was born at 23 weeks and was with us for less than a day. He would be five years old this week.

Even now, despite half a decade and his two little sisters in my arms, these words rebreak my heart.

Allow me to start from the beginning. My husband and I moved to Pensacola to grow our family. Finally, after over a year of charting, trying, and wishing on eyelashes, I was pregnant and we were overjoyed. Out of caution, we waited to tell our loved ones until we made it through the risky first trimester. I followed all of the rules, taking care not to eat this and more of that. I read the books, swallowed the vitamins, and avoided the microwave. We celebrated the good and boring news after each appointment, genetic test, and lab result.

Everything was wonderful, until it wasn’t. 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

At 20 weeks, I went into pre-term labor and my water broke. I had a small glimmer of hope in staying pregnant as long as possible. But at 23 weeks, I again went into labor which could not be stopped. After a blurry emergency cesarean section, our baby was swept away to the NICU. My first glimpse of him was through plastic and pain medication.

He was so, so tiny. 

The next day, I held him and all of the tubes that were preserving his life. The part of my chest he laid on still aches even now. Not long after putting him back down, we were given the news I feared was coming all along.

Despite best efforts, he was too little to lead a life on this earth. In our desire to take away his pain, we knew we would be hoisting it on ourselves.

We cradled him as he slipped from this world into another and did as you can imagine: we wept and spoke words of love as much as we could bear. But as you can also imagine, our intentions were clouded by grief. 

There was so much more I wanted for him.

I would have taken him outside so he would have known sunshine, instead of only the fluorescent lights in the hospital room. I would have told him how grateful I was to have had those moments with him, instead of wishing for more.

I would have told him how, in me, he had manifested the greatest love I had ever known.

Maybe he knows this anyway. 

When my daughter was born, I promised in his honor to be the best mama I could be. I wanted to be patient and kind and wise in all things. So often, I know I do not live up to this promise. Even so, in my toughest parenting moments, I reach for the sentiment I felt after we lost him. The deep, cellular longing for it all – which I know now meant even the hardest of the hard.  

Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

What I would give to have to been woken up for the fourth time in one night, after weeks of fluttered sleep. 

To have lost count of how many diapers I had changed in a day. To have soothed him for hours on end.

To have a battle of wits over putting shoes on.

To have endured a long, epic, and public tantrum.

These moments are by no means a picnic with my littles and I am certainly not stoic in how I handle them. But I know they are hard because they matter. We don’t earn the wonderful without them.

We remember our son not only for the sweet little soul he was but for what he entrusted to us: a permanent lens of gratitude over our lives.

So while my parenting may seem to be filled with more sarcasm than sageness, when the dust settles I always return to gratitude. 

I do not write these tearful words to inflict worry. Know that my complications were extremely rare and not something you could control. I share this in hopes that it offers the lens without the pained experience. And perhaps a reminder that you can spend your days worrying and doing all of the things up to your personal standard of perfection and still face the unthinkable.

The point isn’t to abandon all caution or, on the contrary, to live your life as if you can command each outcome.

It’s to love what we have while we have it, even if it is for less than a day.

It’s the single greatest way I can honor my son. Happy 5th birthday, my angel. I hope we’ve made you proud. 


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