Comforting Others

One of my fears or anxieties that I’ve developed since Brielle has died, is the fear and knowledge that people will assume I’ve never had children. I’m young and I’m not toting around a baby. I find myself wondering how I’ll react when someone says, “Oh you’ll understand one day when you have kids.” Or “When do you plan on having children?”

Even before Brielle, these statements always sounded incredibly condescending or prying. And now I have to navigate them with an additional layer of pain. I’m really not sure how to properly respond. And I find that when I’m not prepared I generally blurt out whatever comes to mind. For instance, my first thought is to say, “I do have a child and she’s dead.” And that really isn’t the best way to handle a situation like that.

I did do well the other day (at least I think I did) when a waitress asked how old my daughter is. She asked because I mentioned I could finally eat rarer meat. I told her, “She would have been one month.” The waitress caught what I was saying and left it at that.

I find myself wondering how to freely talk about Brielle without upsetting other people with the reality that my daughter died. How to be polite about death. This really wasn’t something I ever envisioned having to think about or prepare for. This whole situation is strange. And I still want to talk about Brielle. But I don’t want to console others either. People get so upset when they find out and I just want to tell them about Brielle, I don’t want to have to tell them it’s okay and effectively make them feel better about the situation.

I wish we weren’t so uncomfortable about death. It happens all the time. And we (myself included) go about life acting like it doesn’t happen. Or it couldn’t possibly happen to us. We get uncomfortable around people who have just experienced it, like it’s contagious. And instead of accepting it, we push it away and when it does happen we’re left wondering how to handle it. And here I am, wondering how to make others comfortable about Brielle’s death. Strange isn’t it?

The Most Heartbreaking Thing About Our Time With Brielle


This is another hard post for me to share. It has to do with the harsh realities of being with a dead body. Again, a little graphic. I know it’s strange that I’m sharing these details. But there may be people who are (will) going through a similar situation as I am and I want them to be aware of what happens, how it feels. I wish I had thought to ask someone what to do in these situations. No one tells you how to preserve a body, but still spend time with it. A really awful and weird thing to talk about. Fair warning.

“After our family left, David and I spent time with Brielle. We snuggled her and I took a nap with her as well. We could tell that her eyes were starting to deteriorate and it broke our hearts.

Matt (our nephew – David’s brother’s son) had told us he would come down after work on Friday (from Chattanooga). He arrived around 9:30 PM. It was really nice to see him. David and I both commented on how serious he was and that it was the first time he had looked his age and even looked old. That made me a little sad. He’s easy going like David and generally looks young and carefree, I didn’t want him to carry our burden too. He held Brielle and was very somber. He seemed happy in a sad way. Happy to meet her, but sad that it was this way. This was his first female cousin and really the only one he would have spent much time with. He was very gentle with her. It was sweet.

By the time Matt left, Brielle’s eyes were so fragile they were about the consistency of jelly. Just touching them and they felt like they would collapse at the slightest touch. It broke our hearts. I texted Lauren and asked her what to do. She told us to wrap her in ice, in this very elaborate way, and then to put Vaseline on surgical gauze and cover her eyes with the gauze and then put a hat on top of her eyes. It tore David and I up, thinking of covering her eyes forever. We took last pictures with her with her eyes exposed. I cried the whole time. All I can see is my beautiful daughter, it breaks my heart just thinking of having to hide her face to protect it from decay. Awful, awful moment. One of the worst times in our lives.

We took lots of pictures and then put her in her bassinet. We took a long video of her cute little body. I documented every little part of her and described what it was all like. We looked at every part of her and I cried over each. She truly is beautifully and wonderfully made. She’s perfect. Perfect hands, perfect feet. Beautiful legs and arms. She had such a strong body. I’ve never seen a baby with such a strong body. After we videoed, we wrapped Brielle in her ice pack swaddle. The saddest thing we ever did.

The ice swaddle was difficult to figure out at first and then made perfect sense. We had the nurse bring us gallon bags of ice and we used chux pads that were in the room with me. And then three receiving blankets. As I was doing this my hospital band caught Brielle’s leg and cut her. I nearly fell on the floor crying. I know and knew at the time that it didn’t hurt her, how could it? But it hurt me. It felt like a knife to my heart. I had inadvertently hurt my baby. I had damaged my sweet perfect Brielle. I put a band aid on it, to make it better, I’m her Mommy that’s what I do. Then I realized if it’s pulled off it might peel her skin off. At that point I curled up on the bed and bawled. Horrible, stabbing, heart wrenching pain. David wrapped his arms around me and told me it was okay. He did his best to console me.

We then covered her eyes with gauze and Vaseline. That was even worse. We lost half her face in the process and it tore me apart. I know David felt the same. We couldn’t bare hiding her. Covering her face. It felt like we were betraying who she was. I know it was for the best, but that doesn’t change how it feels. And it was awful to lose that. It felt as if we had lost another piece of her. Like she was slowly disappearing in front of our eyes. It still rips us apart. Had I known at the time that I’d get to see her eyes again it might not have been as hard, but I didn’t know that. David and I thought this was the last time we’d see Brielle’s face. And it felt like goodbye. This night felt more like a funeral for us than her actual funeral did.

After she was covered and her body prepared for preservation, I gathered all of her toys and opened the Rachel’s Gift box. Inside was a beautiful blanket, very soft, a gorgeous knit bonnet, and another toy for her. I called that toy her Angel Dragon Bear. I’ve never understood why bears need wings. Which is why that bear’s name is Angel Dragon Bear. I get my awesome naming skills from my Indian family.

We wrapped her up, tucked her in tight, and propped her on her side so that I could see her as I slept. I put her elephant in the bed with her with it’s arms on her side, guarding her. Her purple rubber ducky on the top left corner (the left corner near her head) and I snuggled the two teddy’s the Angel Dragon Bear and the pink fuzzy bear that Linda gave us, at her feet. I made sure everything was perfect for her. And then I sobbed. And sobbed. David and I tried to comfort each other, but it was just awful. It felt like we had ripped our own hearts out for the betterment of Brielle. I think this moment may have been worse or just as bad as when she died.

David and I went to bed that night completely heartbroken. I didn’t sleep with Brielle that night either, but kept my body and hand as close to her as possible. This broke me. This night was impossible and I’m not sure how we got through it.”

Losing a Child

Picture and article can be found here

I don’t think anything makes me happier than bragging on and talking about Brielle. I love her so much. My friend Emily, shared this link with me today and I think it rings true for me. I haven’t lost Brielle yet, but I do think of the days that will come when my little girl will be forgotten by others. That pain is deep and it terrorizes me. All I want for my baby is to be remembered, loved, I want her story to be shared. I don’t want her to be forgotten. I may break down and cry when I speak about her, or laugh as I remember how she would do things, I wont always know how I’ll react when people ask about her, but I want to be asked. I don’t want anyone to walk away and mumble an, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry she’s gone, but I’m not sorry that I am her Mommy. I’ll never be sorry for the time I’ve had with her. I don’t want anyone else to be sorry either.

Good Days, Bad Days


I have good days and bad days. Today is a bad day. I want to sleep and forget this is all happening, but then I start to panic. I only have so much time with her and I’m terrified of wasting it. And then I think about Christmas and how she’ll just have died. And how can I ever travel again? I can’t leave her alone in a cemetery on Christmas. I know it’s just her earthly body, but it’s all I’ll have left, I have to keep her safe.

And how do I deliver her? Her odds of survival double if I have a c section, but I’ve been told never to have abdominal surgery again. It puts me at risk of death and worsening my gastroparesis. How do I chose between our lives? One mother talked about her son having sores on his exposed head after birth, where skin and brain tissue were rubbed off. How can I let that happen to her? Even though I was told she’d never know pain, she’s been showing signs of pain and sensitivity. How can I do that to her? How do I make that decision? I just want my baby to live. I just want to see her grow up, I’m supposed to go first, not her.