Owen's Story (Part 7): Trigger Warning Pregnancy Loss, TFMR

The mortuary called us back on Wednesday and said that Owen would be cremated on Thursday and we could be there to see his ashes go into the ground as soon as Tuesday the next week. It was comforting to know that soon he wouldn’t be in pieces in a box in a mortuary refrigerator, his little body waiting to move on. We ended up asking if they could delay the placement of the ashes until Thursday next week so my dad could be there with us. They also told us that they were able to get great prints from the left hand and foot they were able to salvage. I ordered prints of them that I could keep and give to relatives. It was nice to have something of his that we could hold on to. 

I began having panic attacks regarding our decision to do the D&E. Had we made the wrong choice? Would it have been better to be induced or go as far as we could with him and deliver closer to his due date? I felt guilty that I never held him in my arms, kissed his face, or held him close to my heart. I never cuddled him or swaddled him in a blanket. I never told him to his face that I loved him. There were moments where I could feel a phantom baby in my arms and I would stare at my arms, empty without a baby, longing to be holding him. I kept seeing family and friends post about their successful pregnancies or upcoming deliveries. I tried not to be jealous, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to tell myself that the emotions I was feeling weren’t necessarily a bad thing--they were a sign of my love for my baby and showed how much I wanted to be his mommy. But that didn’t help much. I just wanted my baby. I just wanted Owen. 

To cope with my emotions, I decided I wanted to give away some of Owen’s last ultrasound pictures to my mom and Justin’s mom. I wanted him to exist outside of our home and for people to see him. I felt like the rainbow fish in that children’s picture book that gave away its shiny scales to help other fish look beautiful. It was hard to give away those photos because they were so precious to me, but I didn’t want them locked in a box forever, where no one could see them or enjoy them. It felt wrong keeping him all to myself. I framed my two favorite ultrasound pictures of Owen and put them on our TV stand. Sometimes, I got lost staring at them, and other times, I held them close so I could kiss his little face through the glass--his cute attached earlobes, his button nose, his chubby cheeks, his little hands. It’s not the same as being able to kiss him, but it helped. It helped me express my love for him in a tangible way and I hoped that my love was able to reach him, wherever he may be. 

I also started to think toward the future and having our next child. I felt guilty looking ahead--like I was trying to move on past Owen. I worried that I would confuse how I felt about my next child with the baby I lost, that I wouldn’t enjoy the pregnancy, that I wanted to have another baby to rebound from my last. I wasn’t sure when I would be ready to try again. Everything with Owen happened so quickly. Justin and I were only trying for a month when we found out I was pregnant with him--we felt so lucky and like it was a sign that we were supposed to have this baby. But, what if we weren’t able to have another child for a while? What if I miscarried? What if my next baby had complications too? How much more could I handle before breaking completely? I was anxious to be a mother again, but afraid I wouldn’t be strong enough to go through the worst again. 


Owen was cremated on Thursday. At least he wasn’t stuck in a box in the mortuary refrigerator anymore.


I started to notice that I would have a good day and then a bad day in a repeating cycle. I had two good days back-to-back and thought I was finally through the worst of it, but I started to struggle again on Saturday night. Justin and I were watching a new show on Netflix and one of the characters was pregnant. She had an ultrasound appointment and it reminded me of my appointments with Owen. When I took comfort in his strong heartbeat, thinking everything was okay. That we had a normal, healthy baby. Then, during the character’s ultrasound, the doctor couldn’t find her baby’s heartbeat. I froze. Justin had to turn off the TV. I tried to get on my phone to distract myself and ended up on Facebook. I saw a friend post about her pregnancy with her baby boy and how happy it was making her. Owen made me so happy. I was so excited to be his mom, and all the hard parts of pregnancy didn’t mean a thing to me. I told myself over and over again that it was all going to be worth it. Then I saw a post in a miscarriage support group from a mother who delivered had 23 weeks, just like me, except she chose induced labor and her baby passed away. He looked so tiny. So small. He had fingers, toes, and a cute little face. Owen would have looked like that, except for his short little arms and legs. I lost it. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I sobbed for my baby. I missed Owen. I wanted to be pregnant still. I wanted to hold my baby. I wanted to cradle him in my arms. I wished things had gone differently. 

Justin comforted me the best he could, but I ended up shutting myself in the nursery. I needed space to cry it out. I talked to Owen. I looked at ultrasound pictures of him. I held his blanket tight. Once all the tears were gone, I finally felt brave enough to watch the ultrasound videos of him again. It was nice to see him happy and alive, back when he still had time. 

I went back out with Justin and kissed Owen’s photos goodnight. I talked to Justin about our plans for Owen’s placement on the upcoming Thursday. We decided that Justin would share a few words and then I would end our time there with a prayer. I didn’t know what I would say in my prayer or if there was anything I wanted to add to Justin’s speech--how do you even begin to put into words how you feel about the loss of a baby only you knew? We didn’t have any shared memories of Owen that we could reference with family, we couldn’t ask others to talk about him, I was the only one who felt him and got to know his little personality. Even Justin’s experiences with Owen were in the periphery of the pregnancy. He didn’t even get the chance to feel one of Owen’s kicks. He was too small. His legs were too small for anyone else to feel. 

Monday was a hard day too.

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