Losing Jayden

I was born on a Thursday, and on a Thursday thirty-seven years later my second son would not be born alive. I was close to six months pregnant, twenty-three weeks exactly.

His name was Jayden Brice.

It was 5:19 a.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2008 when my water broke. Within an hour I was at Chestnut Hill Hospital in a room staring at beige walls with flowered borders and colored canvases that seemed to blend into one huge space of nothing.

I hadn’t known Jayden’s identity the moment I arrived because the week before he had stubbornly refused to unlock his tiny legs. But I did know that his heart had been beating a healthy 160 beats per minute. I did know that he had opened and closed his mouth as he twisted and turned with much vigor before resting comfortably on his back. I did know that things were well just a mere week before.

But I braced myself for a different reality that Thursday as the monitor, that just a week prior had showcased energy and hope, was deliberately positioned to make it impossible for me to see the images. I laid without a hint of movement while the doctor and midwife probed my abdomen, reviewed the screen and spoke quietly to one another.

Softly, never taking my eyes off of the wall, I said it first.  “It’s gone.”

The doctor held my hand, confirmed what I had known since the moment I had left home, and assured me that there was nothing that I could have done to prevent it. That it was not at all my fault.

“Sometimes this happens,” she had said.

The doctor explained that the natural course of birth had to be followed – though birthing death seemed so unnatural to me. Labor would be induced the next day, delivery performed at five centimeters, and I needed to decide whether I wanted a natural birth or an epidural. Explanations followed medical forms and ended with, “Do you have any questions?”

Fragmented thoughts performed somersaults without graceful finishes in my mind, and although I wanted and needed to speak, I was muted by disbelief. My lips had refused to separate as if the mental conjunctures were a foreign language my tongue could not articulate. Heaviness was my only clarity. So I just dropped my head, and cried.

The doctor left the room first, the midwife a few minutes later, but only after she had given me one more thing to contemplate.

“Would you like to hold it?” she asked.

* * *

To this day, I have never felt as devastated, as deflated, as uncertain as I did on that Thursday in May. While losing Jayden did not kill me, I’m not quite sure that it has made me either any stronger or any weaker. It did, however, form new truths for me.

I know that I cannot plow through grief, that grief is a process with its own natural rhythm that cannot be ignored. No amount of work or grad school – or both – forfeits the process.  It only prolongs the start of it.

I know that no matter what I do, how well I do it, or how close things come to fruition, there could be a tragic disappointment, or two, along the way.  And though I am innately optimistic, I know that not all of my hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. At times, I will be able identify what went wrong and may even have the chance to correct some mistakes. Sometimes I will not. Either way, I will be fine.

I know for certain that even when I’m sad or broken or confused, or sad and broken and confused, I can still choose to love, that loss can be a powerful motivator, that life is fragile and any minute really could be my last. What doesn’t kill me may not make me stronger or weaker, but it will teach me something.

And, I’ve learned that people care. They really do.

* * *

I held Jayden, gave him the name that had been decided within the very same week that his little heart had stopped beating. I told him that I loved him, that I was sorry, and that I would never ever forget him.

That stands true today.

Very truly yours,

Mo-

18 thoughts on “Losing Jayden

  1. I’m not sure as to why you would delve so deeply into a story so very private.
    I do know that it’s an avenue that many have walked and that you are profoundly brave to have unearthed it. Amen and thank you. Jayden as well.

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    • Thank you, Chris! I noticed about two years ago that when the memories would visit me they had not faded at all. It’s five years later, and I can still recall almost every detail. When we lose someone who has had time here with us, we have tangible memories of their lives and so talking to others, or them talking to us, is easier to do. But with this type of loss, the only memories one has are innately personal – the development of the pregnancy, the anticipation of its birth, the day the loss occurred, how it happened and the process afterward. So it becomes harder and harder to share when memories arise. So I decided to pen it for my own release. I felt I needed to let it out and not keep it so tucked away inside. And ultimately, although it was such a tragic loss, I really did gain some valuable insights and a stronger perspective on life, and I’m willing to share that with others.

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  2. While your story is so poignant and so personal, you touch on such universal emotions: love and loss. Thank you for sharing this. A sad experience rendered with clarity and truth. A beautiful thing to behold.

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  3. Mo. Thanks for sharing. Almost 22 years ago I lost my first born son. I completely understand your statement of neither being stronger or weaker. Still, to this day the love and loss is prevalent yet the clarity of both is unexplainable.

    Great!

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  4. Wow Mo I know that took so much for you to write about Jayden and I thank you for sharing such a special and touching story……You are an inspiration..

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  5. From knowing you for as long as I have, It seems as if you’ve reached inside yourself to deal with that unfortunate time in your life. Though you are an optimist and understand that everything happens for a reason, you are still a woman with feelings and emotions who hides them well and deals with each accordingly.

    No one can know how you truly feel about that situation, but we all have a genuine respect for your resilience. A Life gone before it’s born, yet he lives and shines through you. I will say to you what Jaden would’ve said to you “Mommy you are the best.”

    Great job and God bless you!

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  6. Wow, another awesome personal story…Though we are cousins who have never met(yet) and became connected via FB I feel your blogs are allowing me to know you on such an intimate level..When someone puts a date on an experience I go back into my personal time memory bank and think where was I during that period while you were going through that event..May 22 is 5 days before my birthday..So, I will remember that…Thanks again for sharing..

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  7. I went through the same thing when I was 19 Mo. It’s very difficult to handle but our inner strength gives us the determination to live life without forgetting the life that was lost. Peace.

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