WHEN YOU BECOME AWARE – AMANDA KAY SMITH

I told my Mom I was preparing to write a guest post on a blog, and that I didn’t know where to start. She responded with “Do you want some inspiration?” She then sent me the following. These are thoughts from a “loss” Grandma. She wrote this to help remove the taboo from stillbirth. She wrote this for other Grandparents to have something to read to know they’re not alone, as she had a very difficult time finding anything like this piece to relate to. Most importantly, she wrote this as a tribute to her first grandchild, Cooper Kay.  

Something happens when you become aware.

The news. Your baby is going to have a baby! Oh, the thrill! The wonderful anticipation of being able to share the life of a being that is your sweet child’s child. The ability to help your child and lend the loving hand that you as a grandmother cherish and revel.

The one-way ticket to “annoying mom you try not to be” status, but simply can’t help yourself. You know the one…that mom or grandmother? The one that tells you all about her pregnancies. In graphic detail – the color of the amniotic fluid, birth weight, hair or no hair, hair color, hair texture, first poop color, first poop texture, bottle or breast. Lord help you if she nursed her child. Brace yourself for that deep tissue root canal description and pull up a chair. We are gonna be here a minute!

“Must know” facts are thrown around like the pitching stats for the Braves. First time rolling over, first tooth, first haircut, first date. You get it. You arduously listen because it’s rude not to. You think to yourself: I’ll never be like that…but something happens when you become aware, your baby is having a baby.

Instantly you feel a bond with a child that isn’t even born, and you are touched to your very core by a new and overcoming love. It’s so deep it’s almost debilitating. It goes into the marrow of your spine and radiates like a current of happy electricity throughout your body. Each day that the baby grows in your child’s womb is a step closer to grandparent nirvana.

It’s similar to the way you feel for your own children, but more intense, yet relaxed at the same time. Your fingers twitch at the very thought of a sale at Carter’s and this place called The Land of Nod. You buy two of everything because you’ll need one at your house too! Duh!

Your husband hides the checkbook and credit cards and puts a lock on your retirement account. So you tone it down to one, maybe two baby items a week. Until one day your giddy yet frugal husband tells you he’s getting a new app for his phone. And you realize you’re not crazy as he downloads the week by week growth of an infant in utero. This is happening, your baby is having a baby and everyone is so excited.

I am going to be a grandparent, but not just your everyday grandparent. I’m “Sweetie”. I am far too young to be a Grandma! So my handle is Sweetie. That’s my little way to wag my middle finger at getting older and the grandparent establishment. Not that there’s a thing wrong with the establishment, I just don’t want to grow old before my time. I have plans for this child. I want to run on the playground, climb trees, chase the ball and the child, and have the child chase me! We are going to ride bikes, bake bread, make terrible messes with paint, and eat chocolate ten minutes before we get home to Mom and Dad! And sometimes we are going to buy over-priced toys and clothes and frivolous sundries! Because I am Sweetie and I said so!

When the time is right I will show my grand-babies how to firmly shake hands, look someone dead in the eye, the proper placement of their napkin, fork and water goblet. I will show them how to shoot a gun, respect the land, sow and harvest a garden, entertain diplomats and even guide their words while they write the inaugural speech when they become President of the United States! (But I don’t have to stand, or ‘rise’ if you will because I’m Sweetie.)

A store clerk, President, whatever; I want to help guide them through life with enough grace that they come to God with their woes. I want to teach them to stare at the vast ocean and meditate on the rhythm of the waves in total silence while marveling at the wonder God created. I want to teach them to pray. I want them to live, breathe and take in all the things we take for granted. I want to be their respite in a scary world of bullies, peer pressure, term papers, relationships, and decisions. That’s a Grandparent’s dream.

Something happens when you become aware.

Never, oh never do we envision the other side of the story.

The phone call from the beloved daughter trying to get the words out, but all you hear is “Mama?” and you know. The nightmare of finding out at 34 weeks and six days that something isn’t right with our baby. “We don’t know yet. I’ll keep you posted Mom.”

Well, the kid I always prided on being communicative was quiet. Why hasn’t she called? It has been 20 minutes. I call both her and my son-in-law, I text both, no answer. As each moment passed I knew the news wasn’t going to be good.

Something happens when you become aware.

I was still hopeful. The phone rang, and I knew before my daughter said a word. I was already on my way to the hospital. I’ll never forget where I was, on I-285 in Atlanta, 35 minutes from the hospital. I told my daughter I was on the way. It felt like I was trudging in frozen mud to get to her and all the while screaming like a mad woman.

They made a mistake! My granddaughter has a name, and a place in my heart so big that if I lose her I’ll have a hole the size of a crater. All this mixed with the agonizing fear and worry for my child. My sweet, sensitive daughter. Damnit, this is so unfair! Why them? The two who always do everything right!

Something happens when you become aware.

This is a nightmare. She can’t be gone! She was just here! We have a sonogram and a video and we just had a shower for God’s sake! This has to be a mistake!

I tell myself, just get to this place called the Women’s Pavilion, Room 112, and get to my daughter. When the automatic doors slid open and the girl glancing up at me from the reception desk saw my tear-streaked, crazed face she knew who I was. With pursed lips, she directed me through an agonizing labyrinth of hallways. I felt like Alice in Wonderland sliding down the rabbit hole. Deeper and deeper into a scary bad dream. Until finally I was met by a nurse. A sweet nurse. When she saw me tears sprang to her eyes. Damnit! Don’t feel sorry for us, tell me it’s OK and my child’s child is alive and well! Tell me you made a mistake! God, please let this be a mistake. She hugged me.

Something happens when you become aware.

This is happening. Really happening.

When I finally saw my daughter at the hospital, my first thought was her health and the grave severity of the situation. Her blood pressure was too high. Her face was overly swollen and she was placid. I can’t lose my child today too. After I gathered my thoughts, assured her and loved on her, I stepped out of the room on a mission. I found our nurse and promptly told her, my child is sick. I know my baby and she’s sick. Her face is so swollen and she isn’t well. The nurse said she had some preeclampsia signs, but her blood panel was not positive for such.

So what happened? How did this happen? We don’t know and we will never will.

The next three days went by slower and slower with each hour. If someone could put hell in a room, we were in it. I watched my child age before my eyes. Not the normal aging of wrinkles and grey hairs, but the type of aging that comes from debilitating loss.

Something happens when you become aware.

After getting confirmation that our baby was gone my daughter and son-in-law had to make a decision of when to start the labor and delivery. So many decisions. Sad, hard, mournful, morbid decisions. This is not how anyone should face the birth of a child.

At the age of 28, my baby had to decide on things that would kill even the strongest of souls.

I now have a new profound understanding of morbid.

After three laboriously painful days, my child had her child. A perfect, beautiful, incredible angel of a baby. She’s here. Thank God it is over. She’s here. It’s over.

And something happens when you become aware.

This is not really over.  It’s just a second act in a play of heartache and grief.

To see my baby hold her baby. How many women see this? Millions? Billions? But how many see what I saw? Tears and heartache from sweet parents that just wanted her to breathe. To live and love. To feel sweet chubby arms around their necks. To bury their heads in the precious smell of freshly bathed golden baby hair. To hear the giggles and cries. To earn the sleepless nights and still smile through it all. They held a sleeping baby that will never wake.

During this time of extreme agony, they made progress. How I don’t know. They held our baby, they loved our baby, and they glorified our baby. Photos were taken, promises made and goodbyes were said. My son-in-law told his daughter the story of how her parents met, and then they let go. They told her goodbye for the first and last time.

Something happens when you become aware.

She’s not gone, she’s in our hearts, and she’s in the air, a song, a rainbow, a bluebird, a butterfly. She is everything beautiful- Cooper Kay.

The night of her birth I stood with my bear of a husband, my son-in-law’s parents, my oldest daughter and her husband and we cried. Together, openly, unashamed, we cried. We stood in a room and watched a mother and father pour over a child that will not grow up. We mourned our loss. We did something incredible that night. We openly ached, hurt, and honored our baby. As a family. I will never forget it as long as I live. And never have I been more proud to be part of a Union. In the days and months to follow that night, I relive those moments in that room and I feel great comfort and peace from our time with Cooper Kay.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “WHEN YOU BECOME AWARE – AMANDA KAY SMITH

  1. Alyce says:

    Dear Amanda,
    Please thank your mother for sharing her grief and unbearable ache about losing Cooper Kay. I lost my granddaughter, Kennedy Rose, a year ago – and my overwhelming sadness mirrors hers in so many ways.
    My daughter forwarded me your blog. Several months ago I had mentioned that I read everything I find about the sadness and never ending emptiness of baby loss, and the words never seem to identify what and why I have these feelings. Your mother has lovingly filled that void.
    Blessings to you and your family as you continue to honor your beautiful Cooper Kay, Alyce

    Liked by 1 person

    • longingforcooper says:

      Thank you Alyce! I’m actually Carolyn, my mom is Amanda, but I will definitely let her know. I’m so terribly sorry you also lost your sweet Kennedy Rose. It’s such an unbearable heartbreak and my mom and I both heal a lot through writing. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. It means so much to us.

      Like

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