Emily Schultz : October 2015

10 October 2015

In Honor of Joshua

This month is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I've never walked this road or faced this fear head on. I have been pregnant twice and have two living children. The loss of an infant or pregnancy isn't part of my story.  What is part of my story are those who are close to me that have mourned the loss of a child?

      I always wonder if I respond in the right way. Did I offer enough comfort, was I there? The answer is probably not. Life is busy, time slips away and pretty soon it feels awkward to bring it up. What if I make them cry? What if I make it worse? What if they really don't want to talk about it. I have been so focused on me, that I never thought to ask them what they need. What would be the best way to show that I care deeply about them?

      If you are walking down this road I want to honor that. I want you to know that though I may never know exactly how you feel, you never have to walk it alone. I feel as humans we need to be there and support each other no matter the season. To acknowledge the struggles and trials we go through so we can show kindness and understanding to those around us.  In an effort to do this in some way,  I have asked someone very dear to me to share part of her story with you. I remember getting the phone call the day she lost her son and it broke my heart. I think of him often and wanted to do something to honor him, as well as her.  This is her story.

     In June 2011, we got pregnant with Joshua. It was a normal pregnancy, except that he was a very active baby. He made movements that none of my other kids made, sort of a flopping, that I now think could have been seizures. December 9, 2011, is the day that we found out he had passed away. He had not moved all day and no matter what I did I could not get him to move so we went to Labor and Delivery. I was 30 weeks pregnant.

     At the hospital, the heartbeat could not be found and a quick ultrasound showed he had passed away. Our older boys Josiah and JJ (7 and 6 at the time, Josiah was 11 days away from 8) were with us because we did not think he was dead. We called a friend who had gone through many miscarriages to come get the boys. She was/is a good friend who could understand our pain.

      We were sent home to pack a bag, call family and get things ready to come back the next day to be induced. Saturday the 10th I was induced. My mom, dad, and stepmom all came to the hospital to be there for us. It was very helpful to be surrounded by family. We had amazing Hope Nurses (these are nurses who have gone through a loss and are there as a support and to answer questions) who comforted us and prayed with us.

      After over 24 hours of labor Joshua was born on December 11, 2011, at about 5:30 in the evening. We were able to have Joshua with us in the room and love on him. Joe was able to bathe him and I dressed him. The hospital took many beautiful pictures and the boys came on Monday to say goodbye to Joshua and get pictures with him.

      The following days were a numb blur of normalcy and weirdness. Kids to take care of and take to school. Nothing was the same, a hole is always in our family.

      Joshua is remembered by his older brothers and younger siblings. All our kids have a Joshua monkey or dog. Each year on December 11th we release balloons in his honor. We each get an orange balloon. The boys decided that was his favorite color. I get a birthday balloon to release in his honor. We say a prayer and say Happy birthday. Joshua is always a part of our family and we keep him in our thoughts daily. 

     I wish other people knew that I want them to bring him up. I always think of him and I love knowing others remember him.  Talking about him has helped me the most. I wish my "friends" had not ignored me, but instead talked to me. Saying anything, even if it's wrong, is better than saying nothing. The best thing to say is "I am praying for you" and to ask me for my story. Most of us  want to tell it, but we are scared to offend you. It's a touchy subject that needs to be talked about open and freely.

      I think of Joshua often. I miss that I never got to snuggle him or photograph him. I have had the chance to photograph his older brothers and his little sister Hannah. The photos here are from those sessions.  Maybe some day I will photograph his younger brother, Gabriel, but today I will remember Joshua and honor this family's journey. It takes bravery and courage to be open and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

     This month on the 15th is when everyone lights a candle in honor of their Angel(s). Will you be lighting one? Do you have a story? Will you be brave and share it?