When you lose your child, all you have left are little keepsakes, reminders of them. I’ve found in my discussion with other mothers who have lost a child that they find an item and hold on to it for dear life. Anything that reminds them of the child that they lost. If the item has touched the child, it is even more priceless. If you are lucky, you had photos taken of your child. Those photos you will cherish for the rest of your life because it is the only documentation that they were here. They were on this earth with you for a brief moment.
I’ve learned that each of the loss mothers I know have done a similar thing immediately after their child passed. We have all slept with an item that we associate with our child. For several mothers, it was the stuffed toy or blanket that was in the incubater with their child in the NICU. For others, it was the blanket the baby was wrapped in when they were born still. For me, it was the blanket I made for Asher that he was wrapped in and the teddy bear I was given when I left the hospital. Eventually we removed the blanket and it now stays in his crib. The blanket is the only thing I have that Asher physically touched. Since Murphy sleeps with us, I didn’t want him to contaminate the blanket with his dog smell so I removed it. But more than 3 months later, I sleep with that teddy bear every single night. I used to sleep with a pillow that I would cuddle in my arms at night before losing Asher. Now the teddy bear has taken the place of that pillow. I hold it close to me every night. The other thing to note about the teddy bear is that it is dressed in a onesie that our nurses gave us in the hospital for Asher. Asher didn’t wear the outfit but it means a lot to me since basically complete strangers went out of their way to buy an item for my precious boy.
The other keepsakes we received in the hospital are safely displayed in a shadowbox that we made. That shadowbox hangs prominently on the wall in our bedroom. We see it every single day and think of our son. Most of the items in that box are the other half to items that we had sent with him when he was cremated; a small teddy bear, a blue wooden rose, the booties that match the hat I made for him. Locks of his hair are in that shadowbox, another physical reminder that he was in fact here, if only for a brief moment.
My house is now filled with photos of Asher. There is at least one picture of him in almost every room. While we were in the hospital, I was hesitant if I wanted photos of him. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about them. I’m so thankful that I did. They are the only proof we have that he was born and he was here with us. I know some people, particularly from the older generation where people didn’t talk about these losses, think it’s weird that we have photos of him displayed in our home. It’s not weird. He is our son. If your child passed when they were older, you wouldn’t remove all the photos of them in your home simply because they weren’t here. You would keep them up as a reminder of their existent and your love for them. You wouldn’t act like they never existed. It doesn’t matter how long they lived. They are still your child. Asher existed. I carried him for 32 weeks. I knew his movement patterns. I talked to him and I worried about him like any mother does. I was pregnant. I had a big baby bump. People knew. I couldn’t pretend like he didn’t happen, like he wasn’t here. He was. Everyone else gets to put photos of their children around their homes, why should I be any different?
Other mothers have jewelry that they were every day in honor of their child. I received several pieces of jewelry to wear in remembrance of him. I usually wear them every day. But if for some reason I don’t, Hubby and I had rings made with Asher’s birth stone to wear daily. I wear mine on my left hand with my wedding rings. It is a piece of jewelry I will wear every day, for every occasion, no matter what. The same can be said for Hubby. He wanted something he could wear daily that would represent our son. I know other mothers have necklaces or bracelets. They get tattoos to remember their children. I, myself, am even considering doing that (shhhh, don’t tell my parents!). Since I have overcome my fear of needles and gave birth to a child, I think I could handle a tattoo. All of these are things that parents with living children do as well. Why should we be any different because we lost ours?
When your child passes, you will do anything to keep them close to you, especially immediately after losing them. If you want to sleep with a teddy bear every night, do it. If you want to cuddle the blanket they slept in, do it. If you want to walk around with a onesie they wore tucked under your shirt, do it. If you want to get a tattoo, do it. If you want to get a locket and carry a piece of your child’s hair in it, do it. Do whatever you need to keep your child close. If someone thinks what you are doing is weird or odd, then you know they haven’t been where you are. You do what you need to do to remember and hold your child close because you can’t physically hold them anymore. As the old saying goes, “those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind”.