By: Amanda Crews
In March of 2017, at 37 weeks pregnant, I heard the crushing words, “Amanda, I am so sorry, but there’s no heartbeat,” as I lay on an ultrasound table within my obstetrician’s office. Visions of changing diapers, sleepless nights, late night feeds, milestones, and the life we had planned came tumbling down. How could this be? How could this happen? It left me confused and filled with grief.
After my labor and delivery, we pulled out of the hospital in our Honda CR-V, with an empty car seat in the back. When we arrived home, we entered into a quiet stillness. Our world had stopped. We had no other children at the time. My body ached from a hard labor. My arms ached for my seven-pound baby. My heart ached for Carson and the fact that he was no longer with me. How could I move forward? How could I find joy? How could the only memories I would ever have with him be left to kicks and movements within my body and a few short hours in a hospital room?
I wanted more. More time. More kicks. More movement. More Carson. But there I was, at home, no longer pregnant, and no longer dreaming of a life that could be with him. There would only ever be life without him.
Another stillbirth mama that I became friends with after our loss told me about weighted memory bears. I looked into a couple of organizations who made them, but the wait time was pretty lengthy then. (However, now you can browse Etsy and other sites to get one created pretty quickly.) Then, though there weren’t many other options, and I couldn’t wait. I needed to have something to wrap my arms around that could remind me of Carson. So, I went to Build-a-Bear, and I bravely shared our story. The woman working said she couldn’t help me with the weighted part, but I could purchase an empty bear and buy the weighted beads at a craft store. I did that. As I was checking out, I mentioned that I had a recording of Carson’s heartbeat from one of my Non-Stress Tests. As I did this, she excitedly put her finger up, and darted to the back of the store. She came back with a box that recorded sound, and right there, she showed me how to record Carson’s heartbeat from my phone onto the box. That night, I stuffed our bear to the perfect weight of 7 pounds 1 ounce, exactly what Carson weighed. I sat on the couch and laid it on my chest, closed my eyes, and remembered him, in the hospital room, upon my chest.
When I think about memories with Carson, I know I will never have any more than I’ve already had: first butterfly kicks, strong elbows and feet poking internal organs uncomfortably, and our time together in the hospital after his birth. Those are gifts from his life that I will treasure forever. However, our Carson bear helps us incorporate him into our day-to-day living. It’s a physical reminder to my now children that they have an older brother in heaven. They love our Carson Bear, who usually sits on our mantle and is sure to attend all of our family photoshoots. He’s a physical reminder that someone is missing. Though my sadness and grief have evolved over the past almost six years, on the really hard days, when I pause for just a moment and the grief comes crashing in, I pick up our Carson Bear, and I remember. I remember his heartbeat tucked within my body; I remember the aches and pains of my first pregnancy. I remember the hope I held onto while in labor that he’d come out crying – that the machines were wrong. I remember his little body on mine. I remember his 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes. I remember the kisses I laid upon his little face. I remember. In your remembering, I encourage you to do what works for you. Regardless of the remarks from others on what you should or shouldn’t do or what your grief should or shouldn’t look like, do what helps your heart. Be gentle with yourself, but always allow yourself to remember. Your baby’s life, regardless of length of time, was a gift to you, and you were created to be his or her mama.
About Amanda Crews
Amanda is a follower of Jesus, wife to Chris, and mama to Carson (5) and Lucy in Heaven, and Mia (4), Arie (2), and Mateo (9 months) here on Earth. She offers Christian encouragement on her website http://www.sanctifiedbylove.com and enjoys reading, writing, cooking/baking, traveling, and investing in relationships. Amanda can also be found on Instagram at Amanda’s (@as.crews) profile on Instagram