New Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2013 was the day that we found out that Jasper was a boy. We were exactly 14 weeks along and that was the soonest that this high tech, 3D/4D ultrasound place would guarantee the gender on a scan. We had already booked the day, well in advance. We came prepared with names for a boy or a girl and we were excited and ready for either one. Even though the 14th was Valentine’s day, we had planned to recognized and celebrate, the three of us, over the weekend because the 14th fell on a Thursday. We had breakfast that morning at the Denny’s. Jasper loved grilled veggies and even though I felt much like barfing that day, I was excited to send some down the hatch for him that day.

Jasper was never shy on the ultrasounds and the tech had no problem identifying his gender right away. We were ecstatic. I remember looking over to Jasper’s dad who had a grin nearly too big for his face. “I knew it! I told you!” I said to him louder than I probably should have. I did have a feeling he was a boy right away. Instantly, all of the fantasies started. My husband had been such an amazing pregnant dad. He took such good care of me— of us, and I just knew all of the good things that were to come for our little family. I could not wait to see him with our son…

Fast-forward 4 years, and here we are in February of 2017. Wow. 2017. That means that happy moment in my life was already four whole years ago. Parenthood has not been at all what we had fantasized and talked about, of course not; Jasper died. We hadn’t planned for things to work out in the way that they did. One never does plan for this to turn out this way. Our relationship has had more strain and change over the last four years than in the entire almost 17 years we have together. I don’t have a normal, mushy, love story for you in this month of romance of love. I do have a real story though. There is pain, resentment and struggle. But, there is love too…

In the early days, the shock put both of us on autopilot. There was nothing to argue about because our mental function was just not present. We had no choice but to compliment each others’ behaviors. We took turns being the univalent while the other would be tough and take care of important things. We searched, often aimlessly to find something to fill the void that Jasper had left in his absence.  We were on each others’ team. We supported one another, no hygiene or house keeping required.

As time went on, we didn’t find that our feelings became easier to bare. Our situation was not better. We continued to bang our heads against our fertility problems. We spent money that we didn’t have trying to conceive again because we were so desperate for that little bit of happiness we felt when Jasper was there. The financial burden, the grief, the depression and sometimes resentment seemed to darken the space around us. We fought about silly things. The way I drive, the way he drives, the way neither of us wanted to clean up after ourselves are just a few of the heated topics that would always end in tears and left us feeling further and further apart.

There were times- who am I kidding there still are- that I felt… feel… that I can not help him. I want to help him. There are times that it is so ridiculously, downright miserable, that I just don’t have any idea what I am going to do; with him, for him, anything. I walk on eggshells and try to shelter him from all the triggers that I am aware of. I try to keep my own pain and sadness to myself because I don’t want to bring him down. This was not how it was supposed to be for us. We were supposed to fight over who was wiping our 3 year old’s butt or making his lunch or waking up to comfort him in the middle of the night. We weren’t supposed to be stuck in time like this.

Then there are days where I see a glimpse of that amazing, awkward, too smart for me, nerdy fellow that stole my heart when I was 16 years old. He wakes me up with a kiss and a loud  “Good Morning! What should we do today?” He gives me those big hugs and he cheers me up when I’m sad. No hygiene required. I remember this guy. He was that awesome pregnant dad that took such good care of our son and me as he grew in my belly. Even though he doesn’t get to be a father to a living child, he shows me what a loving, caring loss father he is to our son. He shows me that we are a team and he is my support. I can’t help but wonder if I’m crazy sometimes for him too and I just don’t know it. Maybe he doesn’t know what to do with me sometimes.

Let’s face it, our relationship will never be normal again. That just isn’t in our book anymore. The point is, even though I wish with everything that we could have Jasper back and be normal people, I know that we can’t. There is not a person on earth that I would rather be an emotional, crazy wreck with than my husband, Jasper’s dad. We committed to each other that we would stick through it and that is not always easy. I maybe sometimes want to smack him a little and I know he gets that for me too. This Valentine’s Day, we will not call a babysitter to come watch our 3 year old boy so that we could get a little break together. Instead, we will likely spend the night, in our pajamas, watching Netflix, maybe have a glass of wine or four, in a room over looked by an urn on a shelf, holding the ashes of our 3 year old boy.

I had a kind of morbid and gloomy metaphor to add in here and I liked it, but instead, I want to leave you with this: I am grateful that we have been able to stick it through these horrible times because if we hadn’t, there are surely some great times ahead that we would have never be able to have. I don’t believe in meant to be’s or things of that nature. Not everyone fits together and sometimes hardships enhance that. Us though, we fit together. Together is the only way we will make it.

Amber Smiley

Amber Smiley

Amber met Chris when she was in high school and married him as soon as she could at the age of 18. She was certain that she wanted children right away but that was not how things were going to work out. They lived in Las Vegas for over 10 years before they finally became pregnant via intervention and plenty of patience. Jasper’s heart stopped at 40 weeks and that was the beginning of what has become a sometimes brutal and sometimes hopeful, new way of life.
They knew they wanted more children and have since suffered many early miscarriages during the process of multiple IVF and IUI cycles which have left them with broken hearts.Feeling defeated and alone, the bereaved parents moved to Connecticut in search of a much needed new start.

Amber was inspired to work towards becoming a therapist during her process of trying to find support after her loss. She is currently a freelance graphic designer, artist and marriage and family therapy graduate student. She takes comfort in the idea that their son was a driving force for her to help other people through a time that she and her husband felt so alone.
Amber Smiley

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Amber met Chris when she was in high school and married him as soon as she could at the age of 18. She was certain that she wanted children right away but that was not how things were going to work out. They lived in Las Vegas for over 10 years before they finally became pregnant via intervention and plenty of patience. Jasper’s heart stopped at 40 weeks and that was the beginning of what has become a sometimes brutal and sometimes hopeful, new way of life. They knew they wanted more children and have since suffered many early miscarriages during the process of multiple IVF and IUI cycles which have left them with broken hearts. Feeling defeated and alone, the bereaved parents moved to Connecticut in search of a much needed new start. Amber was inspired to work towards becoming a therapist during her process of trying to find support after her loss. She is currently a freelance graphic designer, artist and marriage and family therapy graduate student. She takes comfort in the idea that their son was a driving force for her to help other people through a time that she and her husband felt so alone.

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