My wife and I lost our first baby girl, Juniper, on the morning of October 4, 2012 — on her due date. I’ve never felt more vulnerable and wronged in my life.
Never have I wished to trade places so much as those fleeting moments. I would have given anything for Juniper to be there with us — safe and sound within her mother’s arms. Brittani deserved to have her, as did I, but logic was completely lost on me as my worst fears came to a sudden realization. I’d give anything for them to be happy. Even just a single moment. How the hell could this happen!? That’s just it?
Brittani and I didn’t —or couldn’t — speak or even fully grasp what we were being told in those moments—it was absolutely surreal. I felt as though I had left my body and was looking on from an outside world; that suddenly the rug we’d been standing on safely for nine months had just been pulled out from under our feet and we were now falling to oblivion. The expectations, the struggles, the room we had carefully prepared for the arrival of our first daughter — none of it even mattered anymore. We both lost it all, not even knowing what to say to each other as we sat sobbing in the hospital room, tightly gripping each other’s hands, and shuddering from the cold realization that nature is a cruel son-of-a-bitch. The room slowly suffocated us. We both felt entirely alone and completely scared.
We sat in silence in the hospital room that night tightly gripping each other’s hands, sobbing, and shuddering from the cold realization that nature is a cruel son-of-a-bitch.
Brittani still had to deliver Juniper. And we had to tell our families.
This realization hit me like a bag of bricks. I lost control of my emotions and thoughts — they just happened as I observed in disbelief. I was numb. We both knew what had to happen in this process, but were too shocked and scared to put it into thoughts as we sat together in the back corner of the silent maternity ward. We were forgotten and alone for longer than we’d of liked then. I don’t know what anyone could have done, though. How do you comfort the parents of a stillborn baby who are still reeling in doubt and anguish?
I still don’t know how Brittani did it, but she’s my absolute hero. A lesser person would of have been completely broken—but not her. I was completely helpless to her, squeezing her hand as tightly as I could, but it was her courage and strength that carried her through. It was this light that attracted me to her in the first place, but not like this; this was different. I never fully grasped how lucky people must feel to become parents until the moment we learned we would no longer be. Not this day, anyway. We are not the first to lose a child like this, and it is not at all uncommon. That’s the cruelest thing of all.
Juniper was so little and lifeless. I held her as many times as I could possibly muster. It wasn’t fair. No one should need the kind of courage in the room that day to just hold their child. But it took everything — knowing that this would be just a few minutes in our lives, but ones that we’d remember forever.
The hemorrhage that was Juniper’s death last month has now started to scab over, but we both carry the dull pain of this loss with us every day. Brittani and I are lucky to have each other — both mentally strong and ultimately happy, easy-going people; loving people. Neither of us could have made it through without the other.
Juniper will live on in our memories of Brittani’s pregnancy and the excitement and anticipation that we and our families and shared throughout it. We’ll tell our future kids about their older sister, who we were not ever able to know, but still, miss and think of every day.
We love you, Juniper.