I had a routine ultrasound on May 12th, the day after Mother's Day. I couldn't brace myself for the doctor's hand on my shoulder or the "there is an abnormality here" that followed. I always like to poke fun at my emotional irrationality, making self-deprecating cracks about all of my past mental breakdowns. However, I believe I truly had a real one in that moment; I knew I was screaming but couldn't hear my own voice, knew the room was spinning but couldn't see anything but the blacks of my eyelids. The doctor left to call a specialist and I sat in the room scream-calling my husband, my mother, my uncle, anyone who would pick up the phone and make this better. But no one could ever make it better. With every specialist, it got worse. With every foot stepped into an office or hospital that I would have preferred to never step into in the first place, it got worse until it just couldn't get worse anymore.
On May 23rd, 2014 at 1:10 a.m., our beautiful daughter Wylie Meadow was born asleep.
It was our wedding anniversary and instead of going out for dinner we were consulting a funeral home to make plans no parents should ever make for their children. It all happened so quickly. In one moment, she was healthy and, in the next, she was suffering from a severe form of congenital heart disease with a defect that rendered her heart truly broken. Holes and missing ventricles and arteries and things that swirled through my brain and yet I couldn't comprehend any of them, forcing myself to climb into my mother's bed with her at nighttime in the fetal position and cry because I was as helpless as an infant myself. Because I couldn't go back home to our house with Wylie's bedroom or closet filled with clothes or notifications from friends about attending my baby shower for which the invitations had begun being received.
We got to hold her and kiss her beautiful, perfect little face and tiny hands, see her curly black hair coming in as I knew it would. For her viewing, I had wanted her to wear the same layette gown that Ethan wore on his first night at home since she would never get one. We had a hat embroidered with her name on it for her to wear in the hospital that is now all I have left of my daughter; that, and photographs that serve as proof of both her beauty and the fact that she will never come home and grow up with her brother.
And that loss, the loss of a child, it is true pain. It is perhaps the only true pain in life.
We are still fumbling to make sense of it all. I try to center myself with peace in knowing her heart isn't broken anymore, but ours are and always will be. We are now parents who lost a child. We are parents who have two children but only one is here for us to hold and kiss and watch grow up. We are parents who have learned, as second time parents do, that you do indeed love your second as much as your first but we will never be able to express that love. At this point, our biggest blessing is that Ethan has likely forgotten, or will continue to forget. His birthday party is at the forefront of his mind, the reminder of how naive and beautifully innocent the mind of a two year old is. One day he will know all about the sister he has and will always have, but for now, we are finding peace in the fact he is two.
We are still adjusting. We know that life goes on but, in a way, doesn't. For that, I offer my explanation for why this blog will likely be quiet as we grieve and try to understand how one is supposed to function having to say goodbye to their child.
To those who have asked how to help, we have asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Wylie Meadow Joly Memorial Fund through the Children's Heart Foundation so that one day, maybe, no child will ever have a broken heart again.