When Your Baby Dies | A Mother’s Journey, part 2

Read part 1 here.

~~~~~~~~~~ September 12, 1987 ~~~~~~~~~~

Laura died September 1. We brought her home Friday, August 28 after taking her off the ventilator. Everyone expected her to die then.

I know there is much comfort in having the memory of her dying in my arms at home rather than hooked up to the equipment in the hospital. It was very peaceful and I’m really grateful for these memories of her last days and final hour.

I have hesitated to write down my deepest feelings — somehow writing them down will make them more painful; like setting them in stone or something. Our house is still full and active and bursting with children’s activities (soccer, etc.) and music and friends.

The baby things are slowly being put back in the attic and that has not been as painful as anticipated. The things were used (the mobile) for 3 days and that makes packing them up easier.

My body is the worst reminder. Big and fat, ready to nurse a baby — 30 pounds overweight. It’s the worst reminder of all. Usually I have an unsightly body for 3 months but it’s balanced with the joy of a beautiful baby — not a high price to pay. Now it’s just the thought of having to lose the weight, wanting to get pregnant again.

My body, however, is so strong and healthy I hate to be too critical of it. After all, I had a baby, left the hospital three hours later, and went nonstop for three weeks. How can I hate a body that serves me so well?

Tomorrow is church. I’m already dreading it.

People don’t know what to say — what do I say? I’m fat, what will I wear? It’s terrible to feel like everyone is looking at you wondering “how you really are.” Are you going to crack up? I don’t think so. I hope I can reassure them of that.

Yesterday I went out with a friend and her new baby. A lady at the store asked me when my baby was due. I said I had had her and she had died. It wasn’t hard to say — it was just a bleak reminder of the truth.

I went through a pregnancy (never a fun event), had a baby, and now I don’t have one in my arms. And that is the saddest part.

Laura couldn’t have survived; I didn’t even want her to. Her body was not compatible with life and I was actually very much at peace with her going on to God and getting a new body. But that still has left me with empty arms. And I will live through that too. My hope is so strong for another baby. I don’t know when, but I feel like I know God has promised me a healthy baby and that hope gives me comfort and energy to get through these next weeks.

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Laura Beth Trotter

August 14, 1987 — September 1, 1987

Of Tulips and Death | A Mother’s Journey, part 1

My mom struggled.

She struggled with self-worth, body-image, and health fears.

She struggled with obedience to God and what that looked like in her real life and her day-to-day choices.

She had two kids and then her third baby, Laura, was born very ill and died as an infant. And my mom wept.

She felt her empty arms ache and she wrote about it. She journaled.

And she journaled as she got pregnant again and then was so very scared. Scared this baby would be sick too, never again taking for granted a healthy baby.

And then she had a healthy baby. Then a baby with Down Syndrome. Then twins. Then another baby.

And then, when she was pregnant with her last baby, she was diagnosed with cancer. She had a C-section and a mastectomy in the same surgery.

And then she died.

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I’ve been reading her journals, and I think her ponderings and her wrestlings need to be read more widely. They’ve remained hidden in her journal for thirty years, but now I’d like to share them with you, bit by bit.

I hope you watch a woman grapple with God and faith and loss and I hope you’re encouraged.

If you’ve felt or thought the same things, I hope you see that you’re not alone, and that it’s possible to cling to faith even when that’s the only thing left to cling to.

~ Jonathan Mark Trotter, Kerry’s son

 

~~~~~~~~~~ August 9, 1986 ~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been thinking about the different rates that we “come into bloom,” “reach our potential,” whatever. If the US Government says our life span is 70 years, then I probably will have 70 years to reach my potential. And yet isn’t the early bird always the one who everyone applauds? With children, it’s the early walker, early talker, etc., but with adults it’s the early financial success, the early doctor, lawyer, etc.

Is this how God wants us to view achievement? Is this even achievement in God’s sight? I hope not, since at age 32 I haven’t achieved much by the world’s standards. No great job, no great income, no great status. Just a wonderful husband, two beautiful kids and a nice home! And I’m so influenced still by the world’s value systems. God help me!

Different flowers bloom at different times of the year. The tulips are beautiful in the spring, June brings roses, August the wildflowers and Autumn brings mums. Is one more beautiful than the other because it blooms earlier?

I want to see my life from God’s perspective, not just from the short-term point of view.

I don’t know if this is possible.

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At my mom’s funeral, I read this first page from her journal. And then I added a son’s reflections. If you’re interested, it starts around the 34-minute mark.