Our son Matthias was born on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005. During his delivery, the umbilical cord became tightly twisted, cutting off Matthias' oxygen. He was born without a heatbeat and not breathing. Although the medical staff was able to resuscitate him, his little body had undergone too much trauma and could not survive, despite medical attempts to save him. Thirty-six hours after his birth, we removed his life support and gave his spirit back to the Lord.
In the days that followed, my cousin Michelle send me a package full of gifts to comfort me. She had lost a baby through miscarriage, and from her own loss was able to pour out love and comfort to me. One thing she sent me was a journal, with the advice that I record my grief. She wrote in it, "It will be important, as time goes on, for these precious, agonizing moments to be as tangible as possible. Don't allow your pain to fade into nothing more than the memory of a terrible dream you once had." She said the journal she kept after her miscarriage was priceless to her and that she wanted the same for me. I took her advice and started writing. She was right. I treasure those pages and am glad to have them, although it is painful to reread them.
The reason I am making my journal public is mostly for those who may need to know that someone, somewhere, went through the same pain they went/are going through. It was a desperate need of mine, especially the first year after Matthias' death, to connect with other women who lost a baby, and to know that I wasn't alone in my pain. I felt alone. And the greatest comfort I had was when someone else said, "you're not alone." Sometimes that came through reading books or online posts from women who experienced the loss of a baby. Sometimes it was through talking to women at church or friends who had lost a baby. Sometimes it was just the Father telling me, "I lost a child, too. And I am grieving with you."
These journal entries record a year and a half of my journey through grief. It is a journey that I am still going through. The Lord is faithful to His word: "Though He wounds, yet His hands also heal." Job 5:18
August 16th, 2005
Yesterday we buried our baby. Matthias Paul Mailly was born on Tuesday, August 9th at 8:35am. He weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 20 inches long. He had dark hair. I don’t know what color eyes he had because he never opened them. He never cried or moved once he entered the world. In a few brief moments during his delivery he went from a strong, healthy baby to a still, silent, near-dead little body. How quickly things change. How fragile life is! He was alive for nine months and four days inside me and for two days after delivery. He is dead now. I have no baby. My belly and my arms are both empty.
August 26th, 2005
I can’t think of what to write. I feel numb, but it’s a dark, sad numbness. I can’t make my face smile, but I can’t cry either. I am not feeling anything sharply or deeply. There is just a constant, dull, unshakable gloom; a feeling of sickness and fear in my body and soul. I see nothing appealing around me. I just can’t believe my baby is dead and life is just going on like nothing happened. I feels like time should stand still when something this huge happens.
I don’t want comfort. I don’t want meals and cards and phone calls. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want people being "encouraged by my testimony." I just want my baby.
August 27th 2005
I miss Matthias so much. I would give so much just to hold him. I HATE that he is gone. I want my baby so much. I want to see his sweet little face again. I can’t stand it that I will never see him or hold him or nurse him or be his mother. There is a huge empty hole in my life where Matthias was supposed to be.
Along with this horrible aching for Matthias, there is an intense longing to get pregnant again. Our lives were ready for a baby and I want to move toward filling that empty space in our family. I don’t understand why Richard doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t even want to discuss having another baby. It’s like he’s just okay with this gaping HOLE. I am so angry. There should be a baby here and all he can think about is golf and dumb stuff. It’s not like it would make up for Matthias. Matthias died. Nothing will make up for Matthias being gone. Nothing will replace him. Nothing will make it okay. But our hearts and our home were prepared for a baby to be here. Now there is no baby, but we’re still ready. Can’t we move toward a baby joining our family again? I feel so angry at Richard for not recognizing how important it is to have another baby, or at least be trying. It’s like he doesn’t mind that there’s no baby here.
Matthias, Matthias. I will never hold you. I will never talk to you or watch you grow. I just want to say your name over and over. I want to affirm that you existed, you grew inside me and were born and you were ours for two days. You have a name and you belong to us, even though you are gone. You are. You are my baby. Matthias. Matthias.
August 28th 2005
I can’t get over the fact that God killed my baby. I just don’t get it. He worked all these details out just right so that Matthias would die. It makes me feel so alone. I don’t understand. I want to ask why but it’s no use – I know He doesn’t answer that question. Would it even help if He did answer? Matthias would still be dead. The hole would still be a hole. There’s a line a song that says, “Be still my soul; thy Jesus will repay from His own fullness all He takes away. ” It keeps running through my head as I think about the hole where Matthias was supposed to be. (“supposed to be” in my mind, obviously not in God’s). That hole seems unfillable. How can Jesus repay me for the hole He made when He took Matthias? How could that hole ever be filled? It will always be there, until Heaven.
Maybe that’s what it means. In Heaven all holes will be filled, all losses repaid. Everything that was broken will be mended then. And I have been broken. I can hardly bear it. The utter futility of it is almost more than I can stand. It is utter futility to carry a baby for nine months, to prepare everything for this baby’s arrival, to give birth to him, and then to have him die less than two days later. That is futile.
Matthias is gone. Nothing can make him not gone. So nothing can make the hole not a hole.
God killed Matthias and that doesn’t feel like love to me.
So do I trust what He says about Himself or what I experience of Him?
IS GOD GOOD?
It does not feel GOOD that He snatched Matthias away. But like discipline, maybe it doesn’t have to feel good to be good. Maybe it can feel like the most horrible thing ever, but because it yields good things, it is good. Maybe. I don’t know.
September 5th 2005
My birthday has come and gone. Celebrating a birthday seemed so ironically sad. God has given me 26 years. Why? Why Matthias only 36 hours?
God ordained that little Matthias would be. That his tiny body would form inside me; that an eternal soul would be created. That he would grow strong and healthy in my body and that we would love him. God planned for this precious being to be my baby, to be born and to die hours later. Matthias’ whole lifetime was forever planned to be two days. Everything God had for him was done in two short, fleeting days.
It was so brief. But I know that little baby. I remember him! He was mine and I am his mother. Matthias, Matthias, you mean something to me! I know you. I know you are somewhere right now, your little spirit. You are not less meaningful, less important because you only lived for such a short time. You are so important to me. Sweet baby, sweet child of mine. Your name is Matthias and you are known.
He was so alive! He knew my voice and he felt me rubbing him through my belly and heard my beating heart. And I felt him kick and roll and hiccup. I heard his heartbeat and saw his unborn body growing, moving, living. He was so alive. Life is so amazing. His life was so amazing. Matthias.
September 8th 2005
I am afraid of forgetting him. I am afraid of forgetting all the details of those two days. I am afraid of forgetting his little face that I saw so briefly, of his little body and how his skin felt. Sitting in the NICU, the machines beeping, his tiny chest going up and down so mechanically, the seizures suspending his chest in tightness, like he had been crying too long. I don’t want to forget his tiny hand resting on my finger, his little belly button. How he looked the first time I walked into the NICU and saw him lying there. The smell of the place. The curtain, the IV’s, the monitors. His little diaper wasn’t fastened. The tiny blue and white crocheted blanket that covered his legs. Richard with his hand on Matthias‘ chest, praying for release from the spasms. His tiny nose, his lips taped into fish lips around the oxygen tube, his eyes closed. How I rubbed his little arm and feet. The soft spot on the top of his head. Wires everywhere. My ache to hold him. How much I wanted him to move. How much it killed me every time a spasm gripped his chest and interrupted his breathing. How much I wanted him to be okay, to live.
How short it all was. Too short. Too short to hold every detail in my memory. What I wouldn’t give to touch him and see him again. I didn’t have enough time. I couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t memorize everything about him. I couldn’t touch him enough to imprint his feel into my memory. I didn’t have time to look at him enough, to touch him enough. All I have is my memories of him, and those will fade away. I don’t want to forget.
September 9th, 2005
Matthias was born one month ago today. I miss him!
I would have had a little one-month-old right now. I wonder so much what he would have been like. Fussy or content, chubby, loud, sweet... Instead I have a dead baby. No nursing, so poopy diapers, no night feedings, baths, naps. No carrying him around in a sling, no studying his little hands and feet and ears and nose. No wonder and awe at how amazing our little baby is, our young son.
Tomorrow we go to visit his little grave – all that I have left of him; all that I have to care for. I will love and tend the place where his little body lies; the Lord is caring for his spirit.
I love you, Matthias. I wish you could have known how much I love you. I wish I could have poured out all this love on you. Because all my love for you is still stored up inside me and you are not here to receive it. It’s not right. It just doesn’t feel like enough to love you by putting flowers on your grave. I love you so much. Matthias, Matthias.
I can make myself function to a certain extent, but I can't control my body's response to this shock and grief. I get this queasy, fluttery feeling in my stomach – like I’m nervous about something. And I think, why do I have butterflies in my stomach? I’m just standing here doing dishes. And then, oh yes, my baby is dead. Even when I’m not consciously thinking about it, my body knows. Part of me is missing. Part of my life is missing. What was and what would have been is gone.