I was not sure what to write about with this month falling in January. My only resolution lat year was to have a baby. Well yes I did have a baby but she was not alive when she was born. So, this year I will have the same resolution, just now need to add the word “living”. I thought I was going to spend this entry talking about resolutions and how to help change your perspective going into a New Year. But my heart wasn’t really feeling it, it felt very forced. Not to mention, we’re all getting bombarded on how to be our better selves in the New Year.
The Advent season can be painful for a loss mom and a pregnant loss mom. We spend four weeks “waiting and anticipating” the birth of Jesus. Many sermons are preached about Mary; her pregnancy and labor. Many sermons ask us to prepare our hearts for the coming of this tiny baby. Pregnant woman tend to feel a special connection with Mary at this time. It is so special to so many. But it can also be a constant reminder to loss moms that they do not have that joy, that miracle in their belly anymore. They do not have the sweet, innocent baby in their arms. We are no longer connected to Mary in that way.
In a more comical light (I think), I found it very difficult to listen to the sermons asking me to be patient and wait for Jesus. Because honestly, I have zero patience and zero desire to wait for my own son due in March. I would inwardly feel a tiny bit guilty when my Reverend talked about slowing down. Enjoying the small moments. I’m sorry Reverend Debbie, I was not feeling it this Advent season! But I think God knows where my heart is at…he created me after all :).
We received a very unexpected gift for Christmas. One that I knew I would write about one day but was unsure of the timing. It is deeply personal and somewhat scary to share. We received a painted portrait of Cora. My parents asked my cousin’s wife, Lindsey, to paint a portrait of her. My parent’s brought the gift over on Christmas Eve so that we could have privacy when we opened the gift. Honestly, I was so shocked when I first opened it I did not know what to think. Except to say “it’s her, it looks just like her”. I couldn’t believe it.
Why is this so personal and scary? Because very few people have seen what my daughter looked like. We only have a few pictures of her from that day. They are not easy to look at. A single picture can bring back all of the heartbreak. All of the soul crushing pain and terrifying moments. The images of that day are seared into our brains. When I think back on that day, it’s the moment they took her away for the last time that crushes me every time. I have never felt that devastation in my life. Knowing that I would never see her face again.
When you have a stillborn baby, there is not an infinite amount of time to spend with the baby before the baby starts to look worse and worse. It is the honest truth and it was heartbreaking. It was overwhelming. You can say that baby is beautiful all you want but in the end, they do not look like a living baby. They are not supposed to. No filter or touch up can change the reality of the situation. Eventually, it becomes too much to bear, or at least it did for Paul & I. We were trying to salvage any memory we could of her but we had to balance that knowing this is the only memory we would have of her.
I have been very, very protective of the pictures of Cora. Fiercely protective. Only the family who saw Cora the day she was born has seen her. My best friend reminded me that it is okay and it is my job to protect Cora. It always makes my heart a little lighter when she reminds me of that. Even though my daughter is gone, my job is to protect her in whatever way I see fit, is still there. But it has always felt incomplete not being able to share her image with my friends. My very best friends in the whole world do not know what my daughter looked like. It’s not that I don’t trust them. There has always been something that has held me back.
On that same note, I feel like it is important to share as much as I can. After one loses a baby, often times that baby becomes represented as an Angel. Sometimes, it is easy to picture her as an Angel. Sweet and perfect. But that can skim over the stark reality that she was a real baby. A real 5 pound eleven ounce baby. She was 21.5 inches long. She had brown hair and brown eyelashes. She had all 10 fingers and 10 toes. Not many people talk about what it is like to be in the hospital room with a stillborn baby. Its difficult to talk about. And most people do not want to hear about that part. I get it…but it’s real life. This happens to families every single day.
But now I have a painted portrait of my sweet Cora. A beautiful portrait of my daughter that I am not scared to show. I am not scared of what people are going to think or say. A portrait that brings a smile to my face. A portrait I can one day show her siblings that will not bring tears to their faces or fear to their hearts. I have thought many times about how I am going to explain to her siblings who she was. I do not want them to see her pictures until they are old enough to handle it, if they are ever able to handle it. I never want Cora’s memory to bring them sadness.
My cousin’s wife, Lindsey Walls, painted this portrait. You can see every ounce of care and love that went into this painting. She took on a very difficult and scary task to give us this new memory of Cora. I can tell that a Mother painted this picture. The heart of a Mother is powerful and transforming. Her heart dwells within this painting. Lindsey, I am not sure I will ever be able to fully thank you for your courage and willingness to take this project on. But I will do my best to try for the rest of our lives.
Below is the portrait of our Cora Lou Boyd swaddled in a blanket. While she is our Angel now, she was a real baby girl. And we will never, ever forget her.
Cheers to the Bright Side <3.