A Sacred Gift

Alice Roche Cody - Bernardsville, New Jersey
Entered on December 1, 2005
Alice Roche Cody
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Six years ago, at sixteen weeks pregnant, I visited my doctor for a routine checkup. During the sonogram, he couldn’t find my baby’s heartbeat. It felt as though mine had stopped beating also.

I was blindsided by a grief so strong and powerful. People say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This grief nearly broke my back. I endured a surgery. I saw specialists. No one could tell me why I lost my baby. I slipped into depression. The grief was like a full-time job. I couldn’t leave it.

Our two-year-old son, Sean, kept me going. I got up every day for him. Sometimes I didn’t make it farther than the living room couch. He drove toy trucks up and down my body. When I cried, he grabbed tissues and hugged me tight.

People dismissed my loss, saying it was God’s will. I doubted that God sat up in heaven and decided to take my baby. I didn’t believe God had a plan. I believed in the randomness of the universe.

People told me to be thankful for Sean. To focus on him, not my loss. I was grateful for Sean from the moment he was born. But I still grieved for my baby, and it took a long time. I felt that I couldn’t even do grief right.

People said that in time I would find meaning in my loss, that it would transform me. This proved true. The private grief that I carried taught me not to run from the pain of others, as many did with me. It gave me courage.

Two years later, my husband and I were blessed with another son, Christopher. I started to put our loss in a different place. If our second baby had lived, we might not be holding our beloved son. Maybe God did have a plan.

Above all, grief has made me a better mother. I celebrate my children. I hug my sons and tell them I love them all day long. We dance to Christmas carols in the summer. We bang drums and sing Springsteen songs. We read together. We rake leaves. We bake cookies. And when a bowl of melted chocolate falls to the floor, I try not to get angry. We laugh, clean up, and start over.

I believe that motherhood is a sacred gift. I am careful with my children. I know life is fragile, and it takes all I have not to let fear stop me cold. When moms complain about their children, I want to yell, “Stop! Don’t you realize the gift you have? Handle it with care.”

Each year, we give to charity in honor of our baby. Quiet remembrances. My sorrow has now subsided, but sometimes I still yearn for that child. When that happens, I let myself cry and I welcome Sean’s tissues. Then I hug my precious sons tightly.

 

After earning a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, Alice Roche Cody has worked as a reporter, writer, and media consultant. Simultaneously, she has navigated the joys and challenges of motherhood as she and her husband, Patrick, raise their two sons, Sean and Christopher, in Bernardsville, New Jersey. She draws on her previous professional and family adventures as she writes her first novel.