Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Marc-Reflections On Our 1st Year Without You

One year. One year since I held my sweet first born son in my arms for the first and last time. How close and yet so very far away it seems now.  This time last year I was floating in Possum Kingdom lake talking with Marc and fantasizing about that moment when we would get to hold our son for the first time. I remember we talked about what he would look like and tried to imagine together what life was going to be like in just a few days. Last year we rode our friends boat to the middle of the lake and watched the fireworks. Sweet baby Marc must have heard the loud explosions because I remember him kicking very hard the whole show and I thought what fun it would be to tell him he did this when he got older. I could not have known that those were last days with him.
I remember the morning of the fifth so vividly. My water broke at 4am when everyone was sleeping and I timed my contractions and told my midwife but tried to wait to wake everyone else. I made it two hours and sat on the bed by Marc and tapped him until he woke up. He was still half asleep when I told him that today was the day we would have our boy. The look on his face melted my heart, so much excitement and joy.
I am still not to the point in my grief where I can think too much about these happy memories and not cry. To remember how happy and  hopeful we were is still very painful. One day I really hope to be able to remember my pregnancy with Baby Marc and smile instead of cry. Those ten months were by far the happiest and most carefree time of my life. Even his delivery until the very end was beautiful and I remember getting through contractions by saying that I would have my Marcus in my arms in just a few hours. I did get to have him in my arms but it was not the way I had dreamed.
As Marc pushed my wheelchair into the NICU and the doctor came to talk to us I could see my midwife and a few nurses gathered around a little bed. I could not see my baby , still have not really seen my baby and at this point I really thought that the doctor would tell me that he was going to have a few setbacks but that everything would be fine. He delivered the news mercifully quick and as compassionately as one can tell a mother and father that their baby boy who was just hours before perfectly healthy is now brain dead. In shock we went to the little bed where Marc was hooked up to the things that were keeping him alive and they removed the machines and handed me my tiny little boy. I was in shock and the gravity of the situation was there but I also was seeing my baby for the first time. It was not like I had fantasized but I could not help but smile at how beautiful and well made he was. Marc and I examined his hands and feet, kissed him, sang to him and I thought to myself that I need to remember every second. Every second of the four hours I got to hold my baby boy is engrained in my memory and I will forever cherish those precious moments.

One year. It seems like yesterday but also a lifetime ago. How far Marc and I have come is amazing. From those first weeks of not being able to perform basic functions and really believing that there would never be any happiness in this life for us ever again to where we are now is truly incredible to me.
I know I would not have made it through this year without the wonderful people that are a part of my life. Baby Marc's funeral was packed with friends and family who sent flowers, money and food to help take care of basic needs in those first few weeks. My dad, step mom and grandma who flew from Seattle immediately. My aunt Susan, cousin Leyna and grandma who drove all the way from Nebraska and many more who traveled far to come to baby Marc's funeral and show support. My store manager at Starbucks Jenny and my entire store for coming to show their support and checking on me while I was on leave. For being so understanding and sensitive to my special needs upon returning to work, that first week of work was hard and they had to witness many break downs in the backroom yet they were all so caring. It can be uncomfortable for others when someone breaks down sobbing uncontrollably but they never acted uncomfortable and instead made work a place I came to enjoy being again.

I would not have come this far in my grief process without the help of our support group MEND and the many grieving families and mothers I have come to have strong connections with. Sometimes the grief is so strong and intense and you just feel so alone but these women know what it feels like to lose a child and the support from them helps so much. To see women five and ten years out from the loss of their babies living happy lives kept me going through the toughest days. If they can find happiness again then maybe so can I.

Without my best friend Amber. Who was there from the very beginning and got to hold our sweet baby boy. She brought me about ten different types of over the counter sleep aids from central market and when family had to leave to return home she would come over everyday after work for many many months so that I would not have to be alone with my thoughts. She forced me to get out of the house and do things so that I did not waste away in bed. She would call to make sure I had eaten for the day which most of the time I had not so she would bring me food if Marc was at work.

I could not have done it without my amazing sister Jessica who even though she lives three hours away managed to let me know that she was always there if I needed her. Who became pregnant a few months later and unselfishly understood that I could not be there for her as I might have been before. Or any of my brothers and sisters for that matter Tori, Evie and Tyler who helped and continue to help in so many ways to help Marc and I remember and honor baby Marc.

I would not have made it through this year without my mother. Who stayed with me for weeks after baby Marc died. Who brought me home from the hospital without my baby and bathed me and washed my hair because I could not move. She came to my bed almost every night those first weeks and stroked my hair for hours until I would finally fall asleep. Who when she returned home continued to be available anytime of day or night if I needed to call, which I did often. I would call her hyperventilating from crying so much and not being able to control it. Every time she manages to say the right thing to calm me down. 

I know I would not have made it through this year without my phenomenal husband, who hurt just as much as I did but somehow remained strong enough to take care of me at the same time. Strong enough to hold me when I was screaming and renew my will when I was just about to give up. Who had to go back to work just a few weeks later while I got to stay at home to work through the worst of the grief for three months. Who was always so convincing as he would tell me that we would be able to find happiness again, day in and day out he proved himself to be the strongest man I know. A man that I am so incredibly proud to call my husband and the father of my children. 

Without the love and support of all these people and so many more that I could not mention I am not sure I would still be standing. Of course this one year mark does not mean I am done grieving or that things will magically be different. Everyday without baby Marc is a learning excperience on how to deal with emotions and situations that arise. Everyday I feel the weight of the pain that is created from his absence and I have to use and discover new tools and ways of coping with that pain. It is comforting to look back and see where I was and where I am. Progess may come slow but it is progress and slowly hope and happiness are returning to our lives.  I told Marc the other day that sometimes I feel like I should be worse off, while I still struggle most days are pretty good. While I have much more stress and anxiety upon my shoulders because of the grief I have to carry, most days I am optimistic and I still love my life. Sometimes it feels like I should still be wanting to stay in bed and cry all day and I feel a small amount of guilt because I don't want to. It could be that but I think the biggest thing is that I feel if I am happy most of the time people will forget that I carry this pain and they will forget about my baby.

I need to remind myself on a daily basis that the amount of tears I cry does not and could never equal the amount of love I have for my first baby Marc. It is ok to be happy without him. Those closest to me and myself know how much I love and miss him everyday and that is the most important thing.

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Marc.
You made me a mommy and because of you I will be an even better mommy to your little brother Jack.  I miss you every hour of everyday. I wish you were here so that I could throw you a birthday party, see you eat your first piece of chocolate cake, and watch you open presents. Instead my gift and promise to you is that I will continue to live my life more fully and better because of you. I will continue to let your life be the thing that makes me a better wife and mother instead of letting your death be the thing that defines me and brings me down.

How amazing is it that one little person created by me can do so much is such a short amount of time.

I love you always and forever I carry you in my heart.


  1. So beautiful. I opened your link in a new window and let it sit there for at least two hours. I wanted to read it but I kept finding other things to look at. I think it's because I knew I would cry for you, and I did. I cried because even though it's been almost 17 years since I last held my daughter, the memories are soo real. Hope you have a gentle and peaceful Thursday.

  2. Jena, just amazing and beautiful!! I am jealous that you are able to verbalize your feelings so well and so beautifully and it is because of this that everyone that reads your story knows how much you love him and miss him, not just those closest to you! And it's allowed others to get closer to you and know you too (like me), and for that, I am grateful and honored!!! <3 baby marc <3

  3. Jena, I remember reading your Mom's post and seeing the video and pictures of baby Marc last year. My heart broke for you as only another mother's could. I sat and cried for your loss of such a perfect, beautiful baby boy.

    I just finished reading your blog and I am in awe at how brave you are. I hope that in some way, the way you have so vividly shared with us in your blog, that it is healing for you as well.

    God Bless you and your family and I can hardly wait to hear about baby Jack's arrival. Peace and love be with you always. (On Facebook as Julie Gould Clark)

  4. Wow!! I cannot stop crying. This is just so sad!!! I lost my son, Noah, and every word you write hits home to me. He has been gone for 5 months now and I just dread his 1st birthday. I am so so sorry for you. This should never happen to anyone.