Conor

"All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful".
Prophet Joseph Smith
The last few weeks have been some of the most difficult weeks of my life. You know in the movies when something bad happens, someone says "It felt like a bad dream?", that's really how it feels. Like not real, just a dream/nightmare.

Just when I think I can't do it, I can and I do.

 I believe in Christ.

I actually started this post about two weeks after we lost Conor- My thoughts on the whole experience have rapidly changed in just six shorts weeks. So some of this is from then and some is from now, but I really feel it's important for me to share both. 

Leaving the hospital without Conor in my arms was probably the most devastating hour of my life. It felt wrong. We just went home and cried. Every small detail of the event hurt. Food lost it's taste, hobbies didn't seem to make me happy and just about everything made me cry. I sobbed as I put my maternity clothes away, folded up the baby blankets and crossed the gender reveal appointment off of my calender. Every time I looked in the mirror I cried. I wanted my baby belly, I want to be uncomfortable, I want to feel his kicks and moves, I want to have to pee all night long, I want the exhausting labor and delivery of a full term baby and hearing the first cry of an infant, I want the sleepless nights feeding that sweet babe, I want my Conor. I want to raise him now, not in the next life, now.

Being a Mormon doesn't make you perfect but sometimes we are held to this crazy high standard that because we know so much, we shouldn't struggle, be bitter, or even be mad at God.. We know we will see him again, therefore we should just move on with life right? I always thought that if something like this ever happened to me, believing that it never would, I would be fine- I would do the Mormon thing (not that anyone really does) and be fine. I could move on with life and understand that my baby is in a better place. I hate to break it to you, but I'm not perfect. I don't understand it. I don't like it.

 Only a few close friends have said, "It's okay to cry and be mad", which is sooo much more reassuring than someone telling me I'll see him again or that I can have another. (Both have been said) Which just gave me a good idea for a next blog post- "What not to say to someone who just lost their infant".

 I was talking to a good friend  a week ago and I told her how mad I was. I said, "I'm not mad at God, I'm not mad at the doctors or Chris, I'm just mad and I don't know who to be mad at, so I'm just mad. No one did anything wrong. I hate what happened and it's not fair. Not only did it take us eight months to get pregnant with Conor but he died". She said "Sarah I think God would understand if you wanted to mad at him for a while, He is hurting just as much as you are".

 I felt relieved. I have never heard anything like that before. I have never thought of it like that, He is hurting just as much as I am.

"Lucifer whispers that life's not fair and that if the gospel were true, we would never have problems or disappointments.. The gospel isn't a guarantee against tribulation. That would be like a test with no questions. Rather, the gospel is a guide for maneuvering through the challenges if life with a sense of purpose and direction".  Sheri Dew

Everyone has been saying, "Aren't you grateful for the knowledge we have of the gospel and the Plan of Salvation?" or "You'll get to raise him someday". Let me be honest, that doesn't help right now. I mean it does, it really does, but don't tell me that. How do you know that? I know I will see him again but when? In 100 years from now? That doesn't help. I want him now, I want to raise him in this world. Yes, I'm being selfish. We want our Conor. We want Owen's brother. We want our son. I hate going to the cemetery and seeing a gravestone that shouldn't be there. He should be with us. I have never before felt such a deep longing for a child, my child until now.

 This pain, desperation and heartache is exhausting and excruciating.

  I can't help but think of all the things I will miss with him, the first smile, laugh, trying to feed him baby food, watching him crawl, walk, staring at him sleeping at night, praying that he will be safe, squishing his cheeks, first day of school, dating, a mission, college, marriage.  Everything.

One of the very few pictures I have of being pregnant with Conor.


But then I think of all the things he won't have to go through in this life, like teething, diaper rashes, sleep training, falling, hurting, nightmares, heartaches with friends, temptation from peers, feeling alone or sad. That is a blessing for me. I won't have to watch him suffer or cry, be scared or afraid.

The next day Chris and I went to pick out a casket. It was the second most unbearable hour I have ever experienced. I had to pick a box to lay my sweet baby in... How do you choose? I know he really isn't there, but to pick a box that he will stay in forever is so deeply painful. We had no idea what we were doing; trying to cope and understand what just happened and on top of that, we were asked so many questions. We had to make so many decisions. We talked about what was going to happen to him, what we wanted him buried with, and when the memorial service would be, and what it would be life. It was unreal.


We decided on Friday August 1st, no special reason, I guess we wanted it over as soon as possible. Next we went to the florist. I was fine until they asked what I needed. Through sobs I asked for an arrangement for my infants casket. We looked through magazine after magazine and I didn't want any of them. Not a single one. It wasn't right to have to pick one. I was mad that I had to choose one. The whole day, we both were in denial. I kept feeling like I was doing this for someone else's baby, not mine. I just cried as I looked through all of the arrangements. We finally picked one and saw the price.. As if losing my child wasn't tragic enough, the cost of burring him was just as tragic. The florist said that they would just donate it all. I cried even harder and she cried with me. It was such a blessing. After spending $600 on the casket and $500 at the cemetery, we felt like we couldn't afford to have a service.Tender mercy number one.

Then someone in Chris' family called and said they had written a check for $1000 to help with the funeral costs. We could not have done it without help. I still cry when I think of loving and generous that was. We needed the help more than they knew and we will be forever grateful for it. And I almost think it means more to us because there is not an attachment. It was just a very generous gift and that is the most helpful, most loving thing anyone has done for us. That sweet memorial for Conor wouldn't have happened without that help. Tender mercy number two.

Friday morning we woke up and got ready for the service. As I was getting ready, I listened to as many talks on child loss as I could. What else was I suppose to do? Hoping and praying something would be inspiring. I was watching an interview with Elder and Sister Wickman about losing their then five year old son. They said it was the hardest thing they have ever been through and all of the sudden I felt justified for sobbing all morning. If an apostle said it's the hardest thing he's ever been through than that means it can be the hardest thing I've ever been through. He said something that really stuck with me and I believe it always will. He said,

"We had many kind sentiments expressed by our friends and people are so kind but people don't know quite what to say, they do the best they can. One that stands out that I've always remembered is a friend who wrote to us, she said-
"Sometimes in the midst of our blessings and affluence (wealth), we forget that this is suppose to be the lone and dreary world".
And for some reason that resonated with me, just a reminder that that's what this world really is. But the Lord is there to bless us and He will. You'll get through it and there truly is joy in the morning".


Hearing that was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. The whole week I kept thinking "Chris served a faithful mission, we were married in the temple, we even went to church schools, we had a baby on "Mormon standard time", we pay our tithing, hold our callings, we have been humbly living in my parents basement to try and pay off debt and save money, everything! By the books, we have done everything right, why is this happening?!" Now obviously none of that makes sense but after losing a child, you tend to say things that don't make sense.

 So hearing that meant the world to me, I stopped asking why and instead asked
"What are we suppose to learn from this? What is it making us grow for?" 

The drive to the cemetery was quiet and solemn. Chris just held my hand and we both cried. I didn't want to go. We kept saying how unreal it was to be driving to our sons burial. It was like a really bad dream. Unreal. 

All of our family was there when we showed up. The grave site was all set up and beautiful. As soon as I saw the casket, I lost it. It's like it hit me again, the fact that I couldn't wake up from this nightmare.

 The small cousins sang "I Am A Child Of God" and released balloons. Chris' dad dedicated the grave with the most sincere prayer I've ever heard. It was beautiful and I felt for the first time that Conor was okay. That we were going to be okay.  Like the prayer had made things alright. Like we were finally letting go and telling him we would be fine. I felt like we were giving him permission to leave. As if we had some sort of control. It was incredible.

This whole time, I have not been able to be in control. My body did what it wanted, I had no control over that. I had no choice. At the funeral, during the prayer, I felt, for the first time, like I had control. I kept thinking "Okay, you can go, we'll be fine", again, giving him permission to leave. In reality, now I see that it was just me deciding that I would be fine. I won't stop being Owens mom and Chris' wife. I will grieve but I will move on. I will let it go.

 I won't ever forget BUT I won't let this keep me from living a good, joy filled life.

 You know you always hear "I felt peace come over me like a blanket" in testimony meetings at church.. ya I never believed that. I always felt like people were making it up. But I swear on my life it is real. For the first time I experienced it. It happened. It felt literal. I just kept hearing and feeling that he is okay. Conor is in good hands.

The best hands.

That helped me to let go, just a little, of the anger and bitterness. I will never forget the peace I felt. I still don't like what happened but I know for a fact that he is doing something great. My infant, is a full grown, as tall as his daddy, faithful man serving a mission. I felt like he was telling me he is great. He is happy. He isn't an infant anymore. He is obedient and serving the Lord. What more could I ask for?

Chris and I have had a lot of time to sit down, look back and see the beautiful tender mercies and warnings of this trial. We have been able to see some of the cushions and the cautions, the blessings and tender mercies.
Some of these things may seem silly or even like a coincidence but after going through this experience, I don't see it that way. I know this isn't over, I know that I will learn so much more about this burden as life moves on. I know that Heavenly Father was preparing Chris and I for this. He truly cares that much- That, I would say is at the heart of my testimony is. He knows me. He knows what I need(ed).

Family picture with Conor

a. For a year we had been trying to find a job and for months we had been trying for another baby. Within two weeks of each other, we had gotten both. But his boss gave him a really late start date of August 4th, which we thought was so far away.  Conor died July 28th and we buried him August 1st. Chris was able to be around the whole time because he didn't start his job until almost two months after he had gotten it.

 b.Within the first week of finding out we were pregnant, I had two very clear dreams that this baby wasn't going to make it. Two. In both, the baby died mid pregnancy. At first, I called that just my "worried mom paranoia" feeling. Now, I call that a warning or caution. I didn't think anything of it at first and pretended like it didn't mean anything because well, you hope until there is no hope left.

c. One week before Conor died, Chris and I were watching Leverage (our new favorite show on Netflix) and a scene went back to the main character's son dying of cancer in a hospital. They showed the son flat lining and the father screaming and begging for him to stay with him. It was a very emotional scene and I looked at Chris with tears in my eyes and for the first time, saw tears in his. We paused the show and cried a little. I asked him what we would do if our son died, a question that had never crossed my mind before. We sat and talked about what we would do. A week later, Conor died. And it's exactly what we have been doing.

d. Going into the labor and delivery room with Conor, my nurse came in and it just so happened to be the same exact one that delivered Owen. I love her. She helped make me feel as comfortable as I could. It was like having a really good friend there. Then when they took me to do the D&C, the same anesthesiologist that gave me the epidural with Owen walked in. I loved him too. It was a pretty unbelievable coincidence.

After we told Chris' family what happened, they all came up. His sister and family, whom I just love, And his parents. It was amazing. We had all the support we needed. A loving ward, family and really great friends who offered and gave their love. Although the basement looked like a florist shop, we appreciated how good people are.

Our Bishop came over the day after we got home and wanted to talk. He and his wife had also lost a son a while ago so he had some very encouraging words. He said "it just sucks". And I am not kidding you, that is one of the best things anyone ever said to us. So just in case you know someone who goes through something similar, it's okay to say it."I'm sorry and it sucks". There is nothing you can say to make it better, nothing will change what happened. So saying that is sucks is okay. Because it does.

(Also- things you might not want to ever say to a woman who just lost her baby may include:)

"You're young, you can always have more", or something to that affect.
As if I can replace him? Like I just lost my puppy and can get a new one?

"Well, he was only 20 weeks, it's not like he was full term".
I have no comment.

When talking about having another "Let's hope it works this time" (This was actually said by a four year old, so she is totally off the hook).

I'm actually going to stop here, the list goes on, and it get's even better, but I'm started to get offended all over again- so I may save this for another day.

We are doing well. We miss him and want him badly. I get just a little irritated when I find out someone is pregnant but that's life. Or when I see the sweet chubby faces of newborns but that's life too. I have my moments, hours, days. I hate what happened and I have no clue why but I know there is a reason and I am okay with that. I am okay knowing there is a reason. He is my son and always will be. Just not here, not now.

And just in case you are curious- the why on why it happened..

Chris and I went to a high risk doctor to talk about why it happened. Obviously there is not a 100% answer but we have a close one. She said it's most likely an incompetent cervix and very few women have it. Basically, his small eight ounces plus the water, the placenta, all the other junk, at 20 weeks was just heavy enough to "fall" through, causing my body to think it was in labor, therefore go into labor. She said because this hasn't happened before she thinks it was Owen that kinda "broke" my cervix. Stretched it out. And that means from now on, this is going to be a problem with every pregnancy, BUT it is treatable.

I will need to let my OB know as soon as I get pregnant and do weekly checkups to see if my cervix is dilating at all. We will wait the 12 weeks to see if we miscarry and if not, at 13 weeks, do a cerclage (stitch my cervix closed). I am "recommended" to take it easy the rest of my pregnancy. And yes, my OB has met Owen so he knows that's not going to be possible. Possible bed rest and no heavy lifting. (But let's get real, we all pull the pregnancy card when we are asked to lift heavy things anyway). It seems pretty positive for now. But I'm a huge skeptic, as of this last experience. So who knows. I feel like I'm leaving a huge cliffhanger but.. I don't really have anything else to say. The end I guess. Thanks for the support!


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