My sweet son is here, Jude Daniel Glader. He’s almost four weeks old as I write this. He’s beautiful and healthy. Healthy. One word I took for granted with my first two babies and one word I will never take for granted again. Before and after I delivered Jude, I fielded the question, “Is this your first?” countless times. I’ve written before on what a difficult question it is for anyone who has lost a child. This pregnancy, this delivery, this newborn phase is different than Bridget and John’s. A fellow infant loss mom and I often discuss how we long for the days of our naivety to the reality of all that can go wrong in a pregnancy/delivery. The innocence and in actuality, a bit of the joy, of this pregnancy and delivery was stripped away. However, I don’t think I’ve ever cherished the newborn phase more than I have with Jude.
Meeting Jude on January 12th was incredible. As the nurse strolled me down the hallway from labor and delivery to the recovery rooms, I held Jude in my arms. In my arms! No cords following us down the hallway, no pushing him in an incubator. I felt a pang of longing, a pang of wishing Joshua’s story could have been different. In the hospital, my mom brought in a vase with four roses. One for each of my children. Three red roses, and one yellow, because Joshua was walking streets of gold. This simple gesture, made me feel like Joshua was a part of this special moment.
The next day, we got to go home. It almost felt wrong. I was able to have more freedom with my baby after one day in the hospital than I had for 79 days with Joshua. 79 days of driving two plus hours to see our son. We worked so hard to bring Josh home, and this time, it happened so effortlessly. Coming home was amazing but hard. That first night at home, I sobbed. My heart longed for Joshua so intensely, just as much as the day I had to say goodbye to him forever, on this side of eternity. Whoever thinks that another baby after loss is a replacement, that the new baby will somehow “make everything better” is kidding themselves. If anything, having another baby brings the flood of memories and feelings and longings back to the surface with a vengeance. I also felt a little mad. Mad at the unfairness of life. Jude was healthy, able to come home right away and has the chance at a beautiful life whereas my sweet Joshua, through no fault of his own, had to struggle for each breath he took, spent his life in a hospital bed and even if he had lived, would have had a future filled with many many hardships and struggles. Life is filled with injustices, and the only way to come to terms with that is by looking at this life through the lens of eternity, knowing that one day, all we be right again.
Our amazing friends at the Walk With Me organization gifted us with an Owlet (a pulse and oxygen monitor sock). I wasn’t sure I’d want one. After hearing dozens of oxygen alarms blaring in the hospital after Joshua’s oxygen would dip dangerously low, I wasn’t sure I could handle a false alarm on the Owlet. However, it’s actually been a real blessing, saving my husband and I from some anxiety. We’ve both experienced flashbacks since Jude has been home. There was one night I was holding Jude in the basement, cradling him in my arms and holding his little hand, the exact way I was holding Joshua’s cold body on our back deck, a year and a half ago. My mind was back to that warm summer day, smelling his soft hair and kissing his chubby cheek for the last time. I allowed myself to go back there, even though it was incredibly painful. I know from experience we have to go through the pain, because there is no way to go around it. It always catches up to you.
As I continue raising Jude, I know the memories and comparisons will keep coming. Joshua’s story will forever be intertwined throughout our family’s story. I know the joy and the sorrow will coexist. The happy contentedness of life now will coexist with my longing of what could have been, my longing to just hold him one more time. Something that has been imprinted on my heart though, is the fact that I will never stop missing Joshua. Jude will bring us joy and yes, some healing. However, those memories of my warrior aren’t going anywhere. He changed my life and he will always be my son. The world will see a family of five but I know better. I have given birth to four children and nothing changes that, Joshua just has a different address and one day we will all move in with him. Until then, I will strive to live everyday putting into practice the lessons Joshua has taught me and imparting them on my living children.
Welcome to the world my sweet son!