Monday, January 4, 2010

I am a mother and we are a family...

I know somewhere else in the last few weeks, I have said this...that I am a mother.

John and I have always said that we are a family. Telling your spouse this when you spend 10 years trying to 'build' your family is sort of the way you comfort each other when you are struggling so hard to have what everyone else considers a family to be. I have always, and still do believe that, though--when John and I got married, we became a team and our own little family.

Things have changed. Not only are we a family, but we are a bigger family now--and he and I can add father and mother to our life resumes. Those titles do not change because Matthew only lived for a few hours and is no longer with us.

I have been reading tons of books--some great, some so-so...and I've been most put off by the books that try to group the death of my child under the umbrella description of "Pregnancy Loss" --which includes everything from failed fertilizations in an IVF process to ectopic pregnancies to miscarriages for all different reasons to stillbirths to death within hours after birth to death within days after birth to death within weeks after get the idea. It's almost like some of those books discount the fact that a baby is not a member of a family unless it's been alive for some set, predetermined time frame, and there's no disservice in grouping it all together as pregnancy loss.

Technically, Matthew's death would be considered neonatal because he died within 28 days of birth. His death would also fall in the perinatal mortality statistic grouping because he died within 22 weeks of gestation and 7 days after delivery. He's not considered a postneonatal death (after 28 days of birth but before one year) because apparently there's some big difference between the 27th and 28th day of life. Whatever.

My point is that to me, whatever the classification of death his would fall in, the bottom line is that I had a child and he died. I carried him for more than 40 weeks, I gave birth to him and he died. The fact that I am not able to hold him right now, nor did I spend more than 3 minutes at BEST with him does not change that. He was my child from conception, and our family is a family of 3. Period.

So, while I understand that so many, many people love us and are praying for us, I want to ask a favor. Please, please, please do not pray for us to "finally become a family," or to "have a child," or for us "to become parents," because ALL of that has already happened. We were a family; we had a child; we became parents. Upon learning that we will be going back to Shady Grove in the next several weeks, many have wished us the best and told us that they just know we will finally become a family. They tell us that they just know we were meant to be parents and they pray that this is the year that finally happens.

Friends, as I's already happened. We just are a different family. Our child is no longer with us on earth, but he is our first-born child nonetheless. Having a second child will never replace Matthew nor would I ever want it to. Any child we have in the future is his brother or sister--our 2nd (or 3rd?) child.

I know people mean well when they say stuff like, "In God's time, you'll have your family," or they offer prayers for me to "Have the strength to wait patiently for God to give us a child," and I know that what they 'mean' is that in God's time, we'll have a family-where there is a living child we are raising, or that if we wait patiently, God will give us a child we actually will be able to parent a lifetime. And I know their heart's desire is to comfort us.

Please don't doubt this...God DID give us a wonderful and precious child. A wiggle-worm who liked to kick me, liked chocolate (especially cake and milkshakes), loved to hear his daddy read to him and slept like a baby at night...and he only made our family even better than it already was with just John and me. I understand it's hard for some people to realize that just because you don't bring a baby home from the hospital, you still are parents and what you lost was your child--not a dream, your child. It *does* seem weird when the time with your miraculous baby is so, so, SO short.

But please acknowledge how precious that time is, no matter how short it ends up being. It is no less real to us than were we to have him for years. He has been part of our hearts since he was either Red Fish or Blue Fish, and he was a member of our family from the get-go. You look at the pictures of John holding his son as he died in his arms and you tell me that we aren't parents and Matthew wasn't part of our family just because he was only alive for a few hours and doesn't really fit what people *think* of when they ask you, "So, do you have any children?"

I am Matthew's mother and he is forever a member of my beautiful and beloved family.


  1. You are so perfectly correct my dear. A child is a child from the moment of conception. Although his time here on earth was short, he was very much here and very much a part of your lives as well as ours as you so openly shared your experiences with all of us. I will forever remember Matthew.

  2. You are a family and will always be a family whether your child is here on earth, in heaven or depending on your beliefs in your heart. I know a few moms that lost their babies within a few minutes to weeks after birth and their statements echo yours. Matthew is always part of your life and part of your family.

  3. You are absolutely parents! Matthew was your son, period. I wish he could've been here longer, but the the time that he was here was precious, it was powerful, and he was so loved. Life is a gift no matter the length.

  4. I love, love, love this, and you are 110% right... You ARE a Mommy, the three of you ARE a family, and I while I DO pray that God will give you more children, none can take the place of Matthew or his title as your first-born. You may not have him in your arms to hold, but he is here, in your heart, and no one can take that awat from you.
    My prayers are daily with you. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Thanks for reminding me of this. I'm sure I've used the term of "oldest child" or "firstborn" for myself in my mother's presence, for I didn't learn of her losing her first child in the womb until my college years. While forty years may have lessened the pain, I'm sure she corrects me in her mind to this day.

    Also, because we know that in heaven there will be know sorrow or pain it's clear that we will not carry physical infirmities with us there. Point being that in our spiritual bodies we clearly will look different (aka more perfect) than our physical bodies. Those with polio will not have crutches. Those that are paralyzed will dance before Jesus. Elderly crippled with arthritis will bow in youthful exhuberance before their maker. And I believe that you will not hold Matthew in your arms as the newborn babe you saw at birth, but rather he will greet you as the strapping young man you dreamed of, and will eagerly be your tour guide through the streets of gold and hold your hand as you explore the place that our LORD has been preparing for you and your family for eternity. Don't know if this is exactly theologically correct, but it's how I picture it in my minds eye!

  6. Yes. And you have a very cool family.

    You and your husband and Matthew and your dogs are extrodinarily cool. There's no other family like yours on the planet. You have alot to be proud of. Oh, and your mom. She sounds awesome, too.

  7. Perfectly said Lori!

  8. Never doubted for a moment that you two are parents and a family. It is sad that sin came into the world and with it suffering. But your family has been chosen to display God's power and light to others. You are to be commended for allowing Him to shine through the good, bad, and painful. What a gift Matthew was and is and I pray you will be blessed again soon with your 2nd child.

  9. Amen and amen!!! Beautifully spoken!

  10. As is the meaning of his name, "gift from God", you will meet up again some day with him.

  11. You are absolutely a family, and a beautiful one at that:) I've had two nieces that died within weeks of birth and, though they are not physically with us, they are indeed still a part of our family.

  12. I understand all of that. I'm glad that you have the strength to point all of that out because some well meaning people really just don't know how their choice of wording can be upsetting.

  13. Dear Lori,

    I am so, so sorry for your loss! My heart is breaking for you.
    Of course you are a family. You always will be. Matthew will always be your son and will always be with you.

    Much love,

    Sarah xoxo

  14. Yes, you are a mother. No one can take that away from you. Matthew will always be your firstborn, just as Madelyn will always be mine. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Lori~
    This is so beautifully written and right on in so many ways. Matthew was your first born son. He was a gift given to you and John at the momen of conception and you knew him. *When people ask about your children, you will say, "I had my first born son, his name was Matthew" He will always be your beloved son and your heart. I understand your prayer needs and will lift you up in this way. I pray that your grief is lifted a little more each day. That your heart mends with the touch of those who love you and the strength of God's hand. That you will have a brother or sister for Matthew when you are ready. You had a beautiful baby boy, all who knew you wanted to know him, you and John did,,you especially as his mother carrying him for 9 months and giving birth to him. With so much warmth in my heart and prayer for you both~

  16. You are so right! I may have made one of those comments, if I did, please accept my deepest apologies!

    I think a woman becomes a mother at conception, just as life begins at conception. I can't think of another woman more excited about the new life she helped create!! Matthew is, not was your special miracle baby. It was neat to see John so excited about Matthew. You guys *are* great parents. Matthew was so lucky to have met you both! I pray God continues to hold you & John closely as you continue to walk through this life. I can't wait to see what God has planned for the two of you!

    Love, Mel

  17. incredibly well written and a gizillion percent correct... you continue to inspire...this year will be the year for you, john, and matthew to welcome & spend a lifetime with a new little soul...

  18. You were a family before Matthew arrived. Matthew made you parents. Others really won't always understand that, sadly.

    And some day you will get to parent long term.

    In the meantime, continue being a family...for that TOO is precious.

  19. I am one of those moms who bonded with their unborn child almost instantly. You held, nurtured and protected Matthew for over 40 weeks - how could you NOT be a mother and how could you NOT be family? Only a mother would go through a pregnancy and enjoy the expanding belly, the aches and pains, being tired, feeling the kicks - even if they are up under the ribs:) John displayed the courage of a father as he stood holding his son, releasing him into the arms of Jesus. Only a father would do that... it would have been less painful to run and hide from it. But as a parent, you suffer for your children - without regret.

    Matthew aside - you and John were family (not that you need confirmation of that). Family isn't about off-spring, family is an action word, kinda like love. It's what you would do for a person that displays you are family. You and John both did so much for Matthew and even today continue to - that is family. You and John support one another, hold each other up through what I can imagine is the most difficult time in your life. That makes you family. Family is not about a specific number of people, or whether or not you have children. Not in my mind anyway.

    Remembering you today in prayer,

  20. Sending love and hugs to your FAMILY! So beautifully written, Lori.

  21. Lori, YES, you and John are a Mom and Dad, and Matthew will always be a part of your family. You conceived a child, you bore a child, and you heartbreakingly lost a child, no matter what the time frame. The hardest thing on earth is to lose a child before losing a parent, it's just not the way it should be. But who knows the mind of God, and what is man that God is mindful of us? Our sovereign God has a perfect plan for us, no matter how painful, and blinding, and dark for the soul. Bless your faith, bless your marriage, and God Bless your family. May those who speak with you be kind to you. I too, will never forget Matthew and how he has affected so many, as well as yours and John's courage. Praying for you. -Gen

  22. well said. We had that same experience after our twins, who I carried for 22 weeks and lived for only an hour each. They are part of our family. We prayed then for "more" or "other" children. Not just "children" to complete us. I do pray that God will grant a brother or sister for your family.