It's been over three weeks since we returned home without Xander. Three weeks since the funeral home picked up his body to be cremated. It all seems a blur yet there are moments that will be with me forever.
After Xander was born, the doctor wrapped him in a blanket and put him in my arms. He was so tiny. 3 1/2 ounces. 8 inches long. The size of a beanie baby.
During the time that he was with us we cried. We prayed with him. We sang to him and then we cried some more.
It is said that a birth before 20 weeks gestation is considered a late miscarriage. I never really knew where I stood on the topic. Yes, a baby is a baby from the moment it is conceived, but until it reaches viability (23 weeks gestation) it has no chance of survival outside the womb. After holding in my arms my dear son born at 16 weeks, there is no question in my mind that he was a baby and this wasn't a miscarriage. I labored with him for 30 hours and then I gave birth to him. He had a perfect head. Long arms and legs. Eyes. Ears. A perfect little nose. Gorgeous lips just like his big brother. But what really convinced me were his fingernails. It is a miracle how much he grew inside me in those four short months. He was a baby.
My nurse tried to take his hand and foot prints. She wanted to get it just right for us. She kept trying over and over. Bless her heart. Even after she took him that night she attempted again and the next morning sent us home with a few of his prints. We will cherish them. As well as the blanket he was wrapped in. It is still stained with his blood and we keep it close.
There is little we have to remember him by. We took some pictures. But mostly, we only have a memory. A memory of a little boy we will never know. A memory of a dream that we so badly wanted. When the doctor handed him to me and I held him close to my chest we learned that Xander was a boy. My heart ached. It still does. It aches for a little boy who would have had an awesome older brother. In that moment my heart ached for CT and what he had lost, even though he won't understand for many years. I wanted another baby more for him as much as I did for me (and Christos)….maybe even more for him.
We cried so hard during my stay in the hospital. Since returning home the tears have decreased. We left most of our sadness there. Now I cry for what should have been. I should still be pregnant. We should be bringing home a healthy baby boy at the end of the summer. Our family should be complete.
Instead our son's ashes sit in an urn on our mantel.
Many times a day we give thanks for the healthy boy we have here at home with us. If not for CT, Xander's death would have been unbearable. CT has been major distraction for us upon returning home. Although it is a challenge raising a 21 month old, it is such a privilege and honor to have him in our life. After battling infertility and now the loss of our second son, we don't take one second for granted.
The days are starting to pass a little bit quicker now. Three weeks ago we came home without our son and made preparations for his cremation. The post-delivery blood has stopped and my milk has finally dried up.
Our house has been flooded with flowers and cards from loved ones. It brings us so much comfort that people have shown their support for our loss, but also the acknowledgement that Xander is our son. We have every intention of spending the rest of our lives honoring his memory.