tw: infant loss
By Alison Baron
I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 4. I share a badge with two clubs. Two clubs that no one should have to be a member of. Infertility brings feelings of defeat and grief. Infant loss brings a whole new meaning to bereavement and grief. Each October is Infant Loss and Remembrance month. In honor of all the mamas who are unfortunate to be a part of this club I would like to share my story.
Santiago Jose Perez-Barron was born on July 7 at 8:36 a.m., weighing an adorable 7 pounds and measuring 21 inches in length. He had chubby cheeks and his mother’s nose. And although he struggled a bit right out of the gate, he persevered like a champ, made huge improvements in his first 24 hours of life, and was even breastfeeding well during his first day.
Unfortunately, after some blood tests revealed an unexpected problem, his health took a sudden turn. Despite his outwardly rosy appearance, he was suffering from a rare and potentially unknown type of metabolic acidosis that, in the end, proved too much for his little body to handle. Our precious Santi passed away on July 9 at 6:07 a.m. after a long, hard fight. We take comfort in knowing that he went peacefully while in his mother’s arms and surrounded by friends, family, and love.
In honor of Santi, I share with you the letter I read at this celebration of life on July 17, 2016.
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.
I think of you as a miracle. It was a difficult two-year struggle just to get to the point to conceive you. Finally, last October, with the help of modern medicine, you found a warm, comfortable spot to call home for 9 long months. Happiness, fear, excitement, anxiety, and love filled me everyday I carried you. The first time I heard your heartbeat tears rushed down my cheeks. I remember thinking, I can’t believe it’s finally happening. It was early and I promised myself I wouldn’t get attached – just in case. Then a few weeks later, seeing your wiggly, little body, looking just like a gummy bear, everything seemed real. But still, every doctors appointment, every ultrasound, I prepared myself for loosing you. But every doctors appointment, every ultrasound, I was reassured that you were mine.
As the weeks turned into months I could feel you growing. At first it looked like I ate too many Christmas cookies. I would stand in front of the mirror, turn to the side, put my hands on my hips and ask your dad, “Can you see it? Look, there’s little pouch.” At first your dad would tell me I’m crazy – there’s nothing. But he quickly learned to appease me and just smile and nod. I couldn’t wait to show you off to the world.
At around the 6-month mark you finally became noticeable to others. I proudly walked with my shoulders back and belly out. At school, one of my students showed a particular interest in you and would ask me every morning, “How big is he now? Is he ready to come out yet?” And I would tell her every morning how big you were in relation to a fruit or vegetable and that you still needed more time to grow big and strong.
As my belly grew my students’ curiosity and interest about you grew. Instead of just saying goodbye to me at the end of the day they would pat my belly and say goodbye to you too. You received many thoughtful drawings and notes from my class. They even tried to name you. Christopher, Michael Jackson, Luca and Soy Sauce are just a few of their suggestions. I didn’t have the heart to tell them we already had a name picked out.
Santi, July 7, 2016 is a day I will never forget. At 8:36 AM you came into this world pink and chubby like the gummy bear I envisioned at your 9 week ultrasound. After your cord was cut and the nurses got your breathing under control you were placed on my chest. At that moment my heart melted. You became apart of me that never existed before. You awakened a sense of love and selflessness that was unknown to me. In those first hours together we sat, skin to skin. When I looked at your face there was an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. You had my nose. Your left earlobe was curled upward. Your lips had a pouty expression. You loved to keep your hands tightly curled up by your face, like a little boxer. When you cried your chin quivered – just like mine does when I cry. Every once in a while your lip would curl and your brows would furrow. So I would kiss your soft cheeks or rub my fingers across your forehead and peace would return to you. I wish I could take your first 24 hours and life and bottle them up. I wish I could experience them over and over again.
Not only did you have this effect on me, but I saw something in your father that I have never seen before. It wasn’t just love or admiration. Something deeper. Something that words cannot express. The way he held you skin to skin. The way he changed your poopy diaper like he was conducting open-heart surgery. And finally, the way he fought for you when you needed more care.
Santi, your time may have been short but your impression was big. You will forever be carried in our hearts. It brings me peace to know that your grandfather will take good care of you. Ask him to teach you backgammon, make sure he tells you the stories of flying a C130 during the Vietnam War, and share a Henry Weinhard’s beer with him during the Blazer games.
But never forget that your mom and dad are always thinking of you.
I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be
I love you Santi.
This holiday season, I will send a wave of light for all those who where taken too soon.
Alison Barron is a 36 year old teacher, wife, sister, and daughter. This past July she was blessed with adding a new title, mother. However, that title quickly changed to bereaved mother in just 46 hours. The longest, yet shortest two days of her life.