I'm Still Grieving

Shortly after we came home from the hospital, I was scrolling through the pictures that Ron had taken on his camera. This photo immediately stuck out to me. First, he captured the pure joy I was feeling in that moment of meeting my son Jackson for the first time. But secondly, it also reminded me of another picture Ron had captured just 10 months before.

This is the photo he took of the first time I met our son Roman. While the circumstances leading up to these photos were the same, the outcomes were not. In one photo, joy and elation cover my face, and in the other, devastation and heartache.

10 months later and I feel both of these pictures’ emotions fully. Yes, I am overjoyed to have Jackson here. We have desperately longed for and prayed to be able to bring him home, and we are so grateful to see that happen. But in the same breath, everything is a fresh new reminder of the heartache we experience.

I knew that Jackson would never serve as a replacement to Roman, but I didn’t fully anticipate how all the emotions to come flooding back. Of course, in some ways I expected it. Like the time I was placed in the same triage room where we found out Roman had died and how hard that was. Like the night before we were to have Jackson, I woke up every hour poking and prodding him to make sure he was alive, terrified that something might happen to him in his final hours in my womb like it did Roman. During the labor and delivery, I had them playing his heartbeat loudly so that I could hear it and ease my anxious thoughts a little.
But then there are unexpected times that the grief hits me. Like the first time Jackson stretched out his little hand and then curled it around my finger. My mind instantly rushed back to Roman’s stiff fist that I never got to see extend. Every photo I take, the hole seems even more apparent now. I look at pictures of the kids and I want to say something like, “all my babies,” but I’ll never have a photo of them all. Each little moment with Jackson is so wonderful and extra special to me this time around, but I’m still so sad to have never seen Roman’s eyes, hear his hiccups, or nurse him. So while my heart rejoices with Jackson’s new life, I still mourn the loss of Roman’s.

I think another reason my grief feels so heavy right now is because for the past month, my anxiety over Jackson’s birth has been through the roof. I felt like there just wasn’t room in my brain to handle both the anxiety and the grief. So instead, that grief got put in a box, tucked away until after Jackson was born. Now suddenly I have the capacity to grieve again, and it’s all come flooding back.

It has also taken on a new form with the kids. One of the days that I was hospitalized, Ron brought the kids to see me. I was actually staying on the same floor where I was after we lost Roman, and it was where we told the kids Roman had died. So naturally, when Aly came in, she immediately wanted to know if Jackson was still in my tummy and if he was alive. She needed lots of reassurance that it was different this time. Since bringing Jackson home, Aly has asked many times if Jackson will die too or if he’s going to stay here with us. And Fynn keeps asking where Roman is. I realized for him, we’ve spent the last 8 months talking about the 2 brothers he has but hasn’t met—one in Mami’s tummy and one in Heaven. So I’m sure it’s confusing to him that one brother is now here, but the other is not.

I say all of this, not to diminish my joy over Jackson’s birth, because nothing could take that away, but, rather, it’s to acknowledge my son Roman.

We were watching This is Us last night, and I think the mom summed up what I feel quite nicely,

The happiest moments will always be a little sad.”