The white lights glisten off the branches of the Christmas tree that sits in the corner of our kitchen.
I've always treasured the different ornaments on the tree.
Each one a story to tell, woven in between the more traditional coloured balls that hang suspended by various branches.
"Baby's first Christmas" is a common phrase seen tucked away amid tinsel, and lights. Six of them, to be precise.
But then there is that angel. The little blonde boy, with wings stretching out, and a smile upon his face. The bottom of this ornament simply says, "Michael, 2011".
The year I lost a son, the year Michael was born asleep.
December 13th marked the day that two years ago we lost our little boy.
His story only spanned 3 days, but his life touched our lives forever.
December 13, 2011 I awoke, and didn't feel well, and thought something was "amiss". I told my husband that I would be calling the doctor, because I just didn't feel well, and was cramping a little. My husband went to work, and I told him that I would call if I needed him.
Looking back, I think that I was probably trying to convince myself that if I could make it seem not a big deal, then it wouldn't be. Plus, I'm of dutch decent; so really, we are a touch stubborn. Or maybe it was the power of suggestion in my head that all was ok...we all do it I suppose.
But the little flutters of my boy's movement had ceased. I lay still waiting for him to let me know that he was ok, but the little kicks wouldn't come. The "feeling" that something was not right, was more a reality in my heart than my head.. At 19 weeks gestation I walked through my doctor's office door, and laid on the table, only to hear the one thing I dreaded...
My doctor moved the dopler to the right, then the left, all the while constantly apologizing. I kept saying, "it's ok.", when really what I wanted to shout was, "find the heart beat please. Just try harder!". But I knew.
He assured me that perhaps it was nothing. Perhaps my baby had just turned and tucked in such a way as to hide. Yes, ok, that was it. It had to be. But a mother knows; even today, I never underestimate the power of a mother's intuition. I knew that my doctor was trying hard to keep me calm.
The irony of it all, was that I was calm. God had me, He carried me, planting the knowledge in my heart that my son was already dancing in heaven.
Awaiting an emergency ultrasound booked for 1pm, I went to my van, and called my husband. I tried to keep it light, telling him that although there was no heart beat heard, that it didn't mean anything.
Did I want him to come with me to the ultrasound? "No", I said. I knew he wouldn't be able to get there on time anyway, but the truth is, that if he came, I knew I would fall apart.
I had a miscarriage before at 13 weeks, and that was hard, but how could I face a loss after I had felt the kicks, the flutters and the hiccups? Surely this was not God's plan for my life?? Surely I would not have to go down this path He set before me.
But when I lay on the table and the nurse went to work with the ultrasound machine, I looked at her face, and I knew.
Back at my doctor's office, I was told. "I'm sorry Eleanor." I responded with "It's ok."
"But you knew already didn't you?", he asked.
"Yes. I knew"
It was a boy, he was gone, I needed to see the OBGYN, I had to deliver because of his size, that was it.
Our lives changed, just like that.
And so, I smile at this angel, who changed our lives forever. I smile at that change.
He taught us so much in such a short time. Patience, love, peace, growth.
The rest of his story I will share on his birthday, December 16th.
I carried Michael for 3 days after I found out his heart had stopped beating.
Some wonder how I was able to do that. Would it not have been easier to be induced, and deliver him the day his heart stopped beating? No.
But that's a story for another time.