To The Woman Who Called Me Cruel As I Held My Dying Child

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This picture. It’s all I have of my daughter who died. No videos, no precious pictures of her tiny feet or even a picture with her triplet siblings. Nope. This is all I have.

And while I often put myself out there, knowing the internet is not always a kind place, I am usually greeted with heartfelt support. That is until now.

I’m used to the criticism that comes with my career in television, but this one comment hurt me to the core. And as a parent of child loss, I feel the need to speak up in support of every parent who has lost a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss.

“I don’t understand how she can smile. It’s cruel!”

It’s a comment that stuck out like a sore thumb while I scrolled through Instagram. As I reread the comment, I stopped in my tracks, as if I had been kicked in the gut. Yes, I am smiling in this picture. Yes, my child is alive in this picture. Yes, my child was about to die in my arms.

As I stared at this picture, the tears fell quickly. It may have been 5 years ago, but the memory of this fateful day will always be fresh in my mind. After going into labor at 22 weeks gestation, my firstborn triplet arrived in the wee hours of the morning. I hadn’t showered in days, my husband hadn’t slept as he wore a stained In-N-Out shirt, and we were just told that our daughter would not survive.

Our strongest triplet in the womb, Abigail is the one who kept her siblings tight, long enough to give them a chance to live. Doctors intubated her and tried to save her, but she was too weak. They handed her to me and we held onto her as she lived for only two hours.

In the pain and chaos of that morning, we didn’t think to take any videos. The shock of our IMPENDING LOSS took over and we spent our time looking at our sweet girl as we sobbed at our reality. We were first time parents and our firstborn couldn’t be saved. We snapped a few pictures and the doctor eventually called her time of death.

As I think back to that comment, my heart physically aches. Sure, I know this woman knows nothing about my family and I doubt that she’s ever experienced the unimaginable loss of a child. And that’s what makes me cringe. This woman has no right to tell me how I should grieve or what I should or shouldn’t be doing when my child is born.

When I look at this picture, I see so much love. I see a husband, a wife and a beautiful baby. Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a child. It’s something we never planned, but life doesn’t always go as planned.

As we held our baby girl, knowing that doctors couldn’t save her, we talked to her and watched her in awe. We created this tiny little human, who was absolutely perfect, even more than 17 weeks premature. Her perfect little nose matched her perfect lips and tiny toes. She was perfection in a one pound body.

As we smiled for the camera, you can see the heartache on our faces. My cheeks were tear stained and my eyes were red from the pain we were experiencing. But those smiles were pure and genuine. Through those tears you can see so much love; two parents proud of the little baby that touched their lives in a profound way.

To the woman who called me cruel for smiling, my heart goes out to you. I hope you never have to endure THE LOSS OF A CHILD. Yes, I was smiling, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. These few pictures are all that we have to hold onto; tangible memories that will last a lifetime. And as I look back at this special moment, I smile through the tears. My daughter felt comfort and love during her short time on earth…and as a parent, that’s what I’m proud of the most.

A version of this appeared at StaceySkrysak.com

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Stacey Skrysak is a television news anchor and writer in Illinois, but her proudest role is becoming a mom after years of infertility. Stacey is mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two children in Heaven. Even though two of her children were only alive for a short time, her triplets have touched thousands of people around the world. Through her blog, Stacey has become a voice for infertility, premature birth and child loss. These days, she sprinkles in the trials and tribulations of raising a daughter, who was once nicknamed “The Diva of the Nicu.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. As a mom of a stillborn who gave birth literally 2 months ago… I feel your feelings. My daughter was 36 weeks. 7.5 pounds. Brown hair and absolutely perfect. She looked like her father, my husband. She was our firstborn too. Dont ever let anyone get you down on how you grieve. I am giving you a hug from afar.

  2. I’m so sorry the world can be so cruel! These pictures are beautiful. I see your smile, your love and your incredible heartache. Please know that for every mean and cruel person there is a loss mom who know what your feeling and is sending you love!

  3. I am a mother of four living children and the mother of one lost early pregnancy. I have been a nicu nurse for over 11 years. I am in awe of your strength and ability to remember and celebrate the joy of life in the darkest of hours- the loss of a child. Your baby was a precious gift and her life deserved to be celebrated.

  4. I agree that someone who makes a comment like this must only know how they think one ought to feel in the situation because they have never been in the situation. Since having 3 miscarriages I have become so sensitive and at the thought of someone else feeling similar pain brings tears to my eyes and the only solace I have is my belief that our babies are sincerely in a better place and are happy.

  5. As a momma who hasn’t gone through this loss, I can’t know what you felt/feel. Like many other things, I’m sure it’s something you can’t unless you experience it first hand. What I DO know is the feelings of loving a precious child. Anyone who can’t see that on your face has a clouded perspective, if any at all. The love in this IS clear. I am 100% CERTAIN that little girl felt it. Please try to let the love around you block out the ignorance. Love, A fellow Momma.

  6. I feel your pain. And reading this brought back those same memories and feelings. I gave birth to my twin girls at 23 weeks. Isabella only survived 2 days. And I believe she gave all her strength to her sister Abigail. Abigail is now 5 years old and doing great! But I remember the heartbreaking moment of holding Isabella in my arms as she took her last breath. And taking those pictures, not knowing whether to smile or cry some more. Ultimately, like you, we smiled. We helped her leave us in peace filled with love.
    Ignorance is just that. The people who make comments so awful as that, have never felt that pain. Could never imagine what it feels like. They don’t know.
    May God continue to bless your surving miracle and your family!

  7. Oh my God I’m so sorry! As I sit here literally sobbing my eyes out, I think of the World At Large, and the truth is most people have no clue how to respond to this sort of tragedy. I found when I was 21 years old this same sort of thing happening. My mother had just died and my child who I was not supposed to be pregnant with because I was not married, Dusty was born at 40 weeks gestation and he was 6 lb 12 and 1/2 oz. He had blond hair and brown eyes like his father. And I was in labor for 73 hours. He was breech and I gave birth to him natural, although I had the drugs. After 30 hours I had the drugs but I did have them. And he died at Birth. And I worked so hard not only to give birth to him but to carry him for 9 months and listen to all of the foul comments around me, because I was unmarried. And I just wasn’t what people wanted to see. My mother was gone so I was rebelling and got pregnant. That’s what people think. The truth of it was my mother died and I just wasn’t thinking properly and did some stupid things as what I call a child myself of only 21 years old. And people from that point until even now, which I should mention has-been 26 years, they still say the dumbest most cruel things. I heard people say things like, “it wasn’t meant to be”, “be glad you didn’t know him,” “it’s a good thing that this happened because your mother would be so embarrassed of you”, “you’ll be glad later for this reprieve” , “you know somebody else around the world always has it worse than you”, and many many more. Fast forward 12 years I was in a very deep relationship with someone and we got pregnant and then found out that it was a tubal pregnancy and I wound up having a partial hysterectomy. Well while I was having surgery because they had to remove my tube my ovary, my entire left side they told me my right side didn’t look good and I would never have children. And I was wrecked over this. (But the Doctors were wrong) 3 years later I got pregnant with my daughter Sienna Katherynne Amorea’ who is now 13 years old, then one year later lost another baby at 26 weeks, I named her Blessing Grace, then 10 months later came Makennah Autumn Rose who is 11, then 1 year later lost Brady at 27 weeks. 10 months later I had Jayden Troy Malachi who is now 8 yrs old. My story if looked at just on paper is very sad, I’ve had seven children, four of them have died. Unfortunately there was no reason why, everyone had something different going on, but none of which was actually fatal. The doctor’s chalk it up to this… the ones that are here, are meant to be here and they are strong. I’m BLESSED! I have three great Kids and they’re incredibly smart. And they know that I adore them… BUT… I still grieve the loss of the ones that were lost to me… And I mostly grieve the idiots (And I use that term liberally) who don’t know how to respond to such heartbreak. People don’t plan to lose their child. When you lose a parent you’ve lost your past. But you’re born expecting it one day, because were taught that parents will grow old and pass away. You’re never taught that babies die, so when it happens to you it feels like you’ve lost your whole future. You had plans and ideas for that baby. You plan your whole life based on that baby for 9 months and then lose them is the hardest death to recover from. I’m so so sorry that people when they don’t know what to say, they wind up being idiots. I want to believe that they don’t mean to rip your heart out further, but from the comments I got, you never know. It’s been 26 years for my first, baby. Dusty was his name and I’ll never forget nor will I ever stop loving him. I want to encourage Moms of list babies… Check out http://www.october15th.com and look into lost child remembrance day. It’s a beautiful tradition that my children and I love. On that day 10/15 we light a candle for every lost child at 7pm wherever you are and keep it lit for atleast an hour. Encourage friends to do it too. And collectively it’s called the wave of light from east to west coast there’s always a candle lit to represent the lost loved babies. We do it every year. Find what works for you though. I would bake a cake every year on the Birth days for my lost babes and my kids and I celebrate their life, no matter how long it was. IBut I cringe at the cruel things said by people that don’t know any better. I hope you heal from this awful comment and just know that people that say dumb things truly just don’t know any better. So much love to you momma’s out there that have lost. Because even if your baby is in heaven you ARE a Momma. I am loving you from here and crying with you too!

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