Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2012, 1:30 p.m., C.S.T.~
Know it has been a while since I last written, but I have been busy counseling other families who have gone through the loss of a child and taking care of my own two children. Would have been three had my firstborn, Shawn Patrick, survived (he lived for only three hours).
We have two children now: Josiah Cade (just turned two this past December 23), and two-month-old Triniti Hope (she was born on December 19, 2011). They keep me very busy.
Happily, Triniti was born perfectly healthy: ten little fingers and toes, no sign of defect or disability. She was born weighing 10 pounds even: ended up having a C-section with her; still recovering from that one. It really took a lot out of me!
I still remember Shawn: always will. I miss him with every fibre of my being. I remember his red hair and huge, bright-blue eyes as they stared at me, but I wonder if he even knew who he was or if he knew what was going on around him.
His poor, misshapen head and the thin layer of skin covering his exposed brain and skull: Shawn was not pleasant to look at, but even despite the horrific deformity, I still loved my boy with all that I had. (Shawn was born with anencephaly, a brain malformation that kills babies within hours or days after birth.)
When Shawn finally died three hours after birth, part of me died, too. It was the worst possible thing that I could have ever experienced as a parent. I have since learned what it means when people say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronge." I believe that because I saw it happen with my own life when Shawn came into this world.
Since his death, I have reached out to other parents who might be going through what we did. Just because a child dies doesn't mean that the world has to end. A lot of blessings can come out of tragedy.
A lot of wonderful things happened to us: the birth of not one, but two healthy children, joining "Compassionate Friends," and now being regular contributers to a website for mothers of children who have special needs. I have also just completed writing a book about our experiences with Shawn; I am hoping that it brings hope, help, and healing to hurting and grieving families.
I still wonder what Shawn would have been like had he lived, or didn't have anencephaly. What would have liked to do? Would he have a favorite food? Would he get along with his brother and sister? What would he have thought about going to pre-school? I wonder if he would have shared Steve's penchant for music or numbers or if he would end up being the quiet type (like me, his Mommy).
I am sure that Shawn would have been a wonderful little boy, but God had other plans. Guess He needed our firstborn son in Heaven, so He mercifully took him to be with Him. I am positive Shawn is much happier. Healthier. WHOLE. I wonder, though, is Shawn a newborn or a three-year-old little boy with laughter in his heart and a smile on his face?
I do know this much, though: Shawn is perfectly healthy: no brain damage, no brain deformities, no misshapen head, no misshapen limbs, no disabilities. He is beautiful.
Well, Triniti is crying, so I'd best see what she needs. She must be waking up from her nap. I will write in here again soon; until later, this is Gayle saying take care; again, sorry for the long delay in writing!
Take care and God bless!
~Love, your friend in Tennessee, Gayle. :)