The Happiest Part of Sad

Recently, I was telling Finn’s story to a lady who has known me for a few years. She wanted to see pictures of Finn. Looking at the pictures of me holding my lifeless baby, she remarked with surprise, “You look so… happy.”

And I was happy. And sad, numb, in shock, confused, and excited, all at the same time. Even in that haze of emotions, I knew I wanted to look back on the short amount of time I had with Finn and remember the happiness above all. His birth really wasn’t the saddest part of the whole experience. Giving birth to him was part of the original plan; it’s something I was expecting to experience. Our photographer captioned one of our photos with “Nothing is worth more than this moment.” and there couldn’t have been a more fitting description of the moment she captured. It was one of the happiest times because Finn was still with me, or his body, rather. He was in my arms and my little family was together for the only time it will ever be on this earth. I experienced the happiness mothers feel when they see their older child meet their new sibling, and for a short time,  both of my babies were snuggled up next to me.

Oh, how I had hoped my baby would have Phillip’s hair, and did he ever! Such a gorgeous, tiny baby who resembled his Daddy, the perfect complement to his brother who looks like me, and I couldn’t keep him. Saying goodbye to his body forever — now that was probably the saddest, lowest point of the whole experience. With great sorrow, I watched as his body began to waste away before my eyes. The same body that my body had put so much effort and love into nurturing for months. I kissed my baby and watched as he was taken out of the room, knowing that I just saw and touched him for the last time in my life. Giving up my child I had just met was not part of the original plan, nor was everything that followed. Instead of bringing him home, we brought home his cremated remains.

I sat in the car outside the funeral home, all that was left of the baby I had carried for months in an urn on my lap. That beautiful hair, those tiny fingers and feet… all of him, reduced to ashes. His urn felt heavier than his body was. Also on my lap was the blanket he had been swaddled in. A funeral director had called me a few days before to tell me the blanket that Finn was swaddled in was “soiled” from the autopsy, and she asked if I would like her to try to clean it. I agreed, and so when I got his blanket back in a zip-lock bag, it was wet, smelled strongly of detergent, and still had very noticeable stains. One of the first things I did after placing Finn’s urn in his room was to spray down his blanket with hydrogen peroxide until every last stain was gone. I wished I could have grown a better body for Finn; I wished I could have fixed his body like I fixed his blanket. As much as I wanted Finn with me, I realized he had been made new in heaven, and that was the happiest part of all.

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