[ Note from Design Mom: Our fabulous home tour editor, Josh, is on a break, but will be back soon. This lovely tour was originally posted almost four years ago in March 2016. It’s such a good one. If it’s your first time reading it, you’ll be so glad I reposted the tour. If you’re reading it for the second time, you’ll be so glad I reposted the tour. ]
When Robin bravely wrote to me and suggested a different sort of home tour, I immediately wrote back to send her a tight squeeze. I am so proud of this woman for sharing her story with us, and inviting us all into her life for the day.
This one made me cry several times, but more than that, I admire her beyond the moon. Please welcome her with your kindness, won’t you?
Hi everyone! I’m Robin. Welcome to our home.
Currently it’s just me and my husband, Mark, living in our home. I work for a large charter school network in Phoenix overseeing operations, enrollment, and reporting and compliance for the 22 schools in our network. Mark works at the Mayo Clinic as an Instrument Technician. He does all the things you don’t think about but are essential to a hospital functioning: ordering supplies, sterilizing surgical equipment, etc.
Mark is an old man living in a 30-year old’s body. On most Saturday mornings, you can find him sitting in his favorite chair, drinking his coffee and staring into space. He’s not watching TV or checking his phone; he’s just sitting and being. I, on the other hand, can’t sit still to save my life. So while he sits, I dart around attempting to cross things off my to-do list. He’s good for me; he has taught me how to enjoy life and rest. I am happiest and most at ease when I am with him.
And we should be living with our son, William Earle, who would be three months old at this point. But sadly, due to complications during his delivery (meconium aspiration) he was without oxygen for several minutes leaving him brain dead. He died peacefully in our arms at four days old. So ours is a story of when you thought you would be living with kids and suddenly you aren’t.
In the years after college, I lived in Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. And then I moved back to Phoenix. When I met and married my husband, I knew I would live in Phoenix for the rest of my life since he is a fourth generation Arizonan. And I absolutely love living in Central Phoenix so I am completely on board with this plan.
The thing about Phoenix is that it has all of the commodities of a big city — zoo, sports teams, airport — with the small town feeling. Just this past Saturday, I ran into a friend while I was out hiking and then ran into two different sets of friends while out to lunch with my sister. I love that! And I love so many other things as well: all of the locally owned restaurants, the numerous hiking trails ten minutes from our house, the fact that the sun shines almost everyday, and so much more.
But most importantly, both of our families are here. I can’t even begin to imagine walking through the last few months without our families. We both come from close tight-knit families, but walking through Will’s death has brought us all even closer together.
Sometimes you just need your mom, no matter how old you are.
I bought this house when I was in my late twenties and beginning to think that I might never find a guy that I wanted to marry. I struggled to find a house that I wanted to buy because they all felt so cookie-cutter, full of beige tile and paint. I also wanted a house with some personality, which is often hard to come by in Phoenix!
When I bought this house, it needed so much love and attention. Picture in your mind: 33-year old beige carpet, a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the master bedroom, a swimming pool filled with green algae, and more! I brought one of my best girlfriends over and she took one look and said, “Robin, I think this is a mistake.”
But I could see through all of the grime, and I saw big windows and ceiling beams and a floor plan perfect for entertaining. So I got it for a steal and renovated the whole thing before moving in. About a year later, I met my husband. Turns out he also has an eye for home improvements; he owned a condo which he had completely renovated himself. I was so impressed the first time I saw his condo that while he was in the bathroom, I took a couple photos and texted them to my best friend. Ha!
I loved this house before I married my husband but it has really felt like a home, our safe haven since he moved in. We’ve hung things on the walls (I had a phobia of this previously!) and bought furniture to fill empty rooms…but most of all we filled it with memories and love.
When we came home from the hospital without Will, our home that we had adored days previously suddenly felt too quiet and empty. The silence was deafening since we had been anticipating it being filled with the cries of a newborn baby.
We went away for a week to California the day after Will’s memorial service. When it was time to go home, we were both nervous and dreading it given all the reminders of what was to be but was not. We stopped at Pei Wei on the way home from the airport and the fortune I got said, “Your home is a pleasant place from which you will draw happiness.” I took that as a sign from God. And it has been a place of refuge during this time: a place to be safe, to hide from the world, to cry and laugh and feel however we want to. But it also still quiet. So sometimes on a normal Tuesday night you’ll find us roaming Costco just so we aren’t sitting at home in our quiet house.
The day I found out I was pregnant with Will was one of the best days of my life. I have dreamed about being a mother since I was a little girl. I was on cloud nine. My brother texted me when I was six weeks pregnant and we hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant, “I have never seen you this happy.” It’s true. I felt such joy and gratitude and thankfulness and exuberance throughout my pregnancy. My dreams of being a mother were finally coming true.
My pregnancy was pretty non-eventful. Every test and ultrasound came back totally normal and perfect. Our baby (we didn’t find out the sex) was growing perfectly in my womb. Every indication we had was that we would be delivering a healthy baby just in time for Christmas.
I am a planner through and through, so the moment I found out I was pregnant, I started making lists of house projects I wanted to complete and things we needed to do to prepare for baby. One of the biggest projects to tackle was painting over the blue/black paint in our extra bedroom. It took my dear, sweet husband four coats of paint to cover it up. We chose a pale mint green that transformed the room into a peaceful sanctuary.
He humored my need to get the nursery set up far in advance of our baby arriving. I believe I had the crib assembled and set up when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I was just so excited that I couldn’t help myself!
I spent many hours searching online for things for our baby’s nursery and coming up with projects for my husband to complete, like turning wire baskets into book baskets and hanging Christmas ornaments to create a mobile. One of the most special parts of the nursery that I loved putting together, are all of the photos of Mark and I as babies. I couldn’t wait to see who our baby would look like – mostly me, for the record.
I also felt the need to redecorate many parts of our house while pregnant, buying new bedding, putting together a gallery wall, etc. Again, my wonderful husband humored me. And I went through almost every cupboard and drawer in our house to make room for our baby and all the stuff that I knew came along with them. I cleared a cabinet in the kitchen for all of the bottles and cleared out two drawers in our living room for toys and I could go on and on and on. I was going to be as prepared as I could be.
Like I mentioned, I was just so excited that I started dreaming almost immediately about plans for our home with children. I spent many days washing dishes at the kitchen sink, dreaming of turning the wasted space off of our kitchen into a play area. I also had dreams of turning our atrium into a space with a water table and easel for our kids to play in. I could already picture the joy and laughter filling up our home. I dreamed of the photos our photographer would take of us with our newborn baby in many of the different spots in our house.
And we collected many special items for our beloved baby. Thankfully both of our parents had saved so many things from our childhoods: the blanket Mark’s grandmother made him, the stocking I came home from the hospital in, the mint blanket and hat that my Nana knit for me when I was born, and a family heirloom christening gown. There were so many other people excited for Will’s arrival — we had four showers thrown for us. We received so many thoughtful gifts including many homemade blankets.
The best analogy I have for his delivery and the aftermath is that we were driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible with the top down. The sun was shining, and we were giddy and carefree. And then out of nowhere a huge semi t-boned us completely totaling the car. None of us saw it coming.
Maybe you have had a baby like Will; he just didn’t want to be born. His due date of December 14 passed right on by with zero signs of labor, then my birthday passed on December 20 with still almost zero signs of labor, and then Christmas arrived with some very mild and completely inconsistent contractions. On the day after Christmas, we attempted some natural labor induction methods and, boy oh boy, did they work! I had just always expected to be in labor for hours, maybe even close to days since both my mother and sister were and this was my first baby. But when my labor started, it came fast and furious. Two hours after feeling my first contraction, they were already coming one on top of each other about one minute apart. And three hours after my first contraction, I was fully dilated and starting to feel the urge to push. At this point we were at the birth center where we had planned to deliver, and I was in the tub working through contractions. Even though my labor came on fast and furious, I felt strong and peaceful and in control. Mark and I have always worked as a team really well, and I felt our connection and strength as a couple as we worked through the contractions together.
And then Will’s heart rate dropped but came back up. And then it dropped again. So they immediately called an ambulance to transport us the quarter of a mile to the hospital. Suddenly there were six paramedics there loading me onto a stretcher and transferring me to the hospital. Somehow in the midst of all of this, I was calm and focused on the task at hand. We arrived at the hospital and within five minutes I delivered him.
My first thought after pushing him out was how proud I was of myself — I did it! And I did it under pretty intense circumstances! And then they didn’t let me see him and no one was telling me what was happening and they whisked him away to the NICU and my feeling of pride quickly turned to shock and fear and sadness.
To be honest, what I remember most about his delivery is bright lights and lots of people crowded in a small room and everyone screaming at me to push him out. It was so sudden and so far from what I had pictured in my mind for the ten months prior. I still replay it over and over and over again in my head trying to figure out what I could have done differently to lead to a different outcome. But it’s done. He’s really gone. So I am praying for acceptance…and I’m working on not replaying it over and over again.
Oh goodness…we are still trying to cope each and every day. Some days are numb and normal and you catch glimpses of yourself before your whole life shattered before your eyes. On other days, I wake up and the tears are flowing almost immediately.
One of the best things I’ve done to cope is to accept help. Somehow it became shameful to need or accept help in our society. But you know what, sometimes we all need a little help. Sometimes you are 33 years old and need your sister to accompany you to get your haircut or sometimes you need to line up “babysitters” for you when your husband goes back to work because you are panicked about being alone or sometimes you need to stop at your aunt’s house on the drive home for a hug because the tears won’t stop flowing. We thankfully have the most incredible friends and family who have taken such good care of us.
We’ve always loved to travel and have found that is helping us to cope in different ways. Like I mentioned, right after Will died my sister booked for us to stay at a little cottage in Stinson Beach for a week. We needed that week. It gave us a chance to regroup, rest, process, and grieve as a couple without the distractions of anyone else. Since then, we’ve also taken a stay-cation to a hotel five miles from our house. We’ve found that sometimes you need a break from reality and all the reminders of Will. Of course, we are still thinking of him but the weight feels lifted a little bit and we can breathe.
And I think pretty much everyone can benefit from counseling. I, for one, will most likely be going for a very long time.
And you do other crazy things to cope like taking photos of cute whale swim trunks you want to buy at Target and texting them to your mom and sister. Someone told me you should do whatever you need to in order to cope and I believe that is so true. No one grieves in the same way.
One of the best pieces of advice that I was given was that Mark and I were going to grieve in different ways and that was okay. I’m much more verbal and want to talk and talk and talk. He’s much more of a thinker, not saying much. But I always know when he is thinking about Will, because he’s got his Will beer mug out (he’s an avid beer collector and I would say snob!). So far, through lots of work and counseling and grace for each other, this is making our relationship stronger. We love each other dearly. I am determined to not let this destroy us.
Personally, the worst for me is when people know what happened and say nothing. They don’t even acknowledge that I just lost my long-awaited, beautiful baby boy. I think sometimes people don’t say anything because it is uncomfortable for them or they don’t know what to say, and I just want to scream at them, “How do you think I feel? All of life has been uncomfortable for me since this happened!” (And I am not a screamer.)
In case you’re wondering what to say to someone in a situation like this, I think all you need to say is, “I was so sad to hear about William.” If I want to talk about it, I will direct the conversation from there or I will simply say thank you and move on if I don’t feel like talking that day.
We’ve left his room up and, strangely, it has become my favorite place to be. If I am home by myself, you can almost always find me in Will’s nursery. When it all first happened, it helped me to cope with the shock. I just sat there and wrote in my journal and stared into space and talked to God and tried to wrap my mind around the fact that my baby is dead. I still can’t believe it sometimes.
It’s such a beautiful, peaceful room. The very first thing that we bought for his nursery was the print above his crib which says, “Mightier than the waves of the sea is His love for you.” I have to believe that God knew that I would need to see and read that reminder after Will passed away. That He sees my pain, He understands what I am experiencing, and He loves me. I believe God can handle me coming to him with my questions and anger and pain.
As the weeks go on and I’m being expected more and more to be a functioning member of society, I am drawn to Will’s nursery because I feel most connected to him there. I have one of the huge photos we had on display at his memorial propped up in his crib. I sit there and stare at my beautiful boy. He was so perfect. That is what makes this so hard to bear.
The part that feels hard to me are all of the other reminders found throughout our house: opening the cupboard for the first time to do laundry and seeing the baby laundry detergent, or opening the cupboard below the sink in the bathroom and seeing all of the cute baby towels washed and folded and ready to go. So I have taken most of the things that I don’t want to see and crammed them all in the closet. I’ll deal with them another day.
It took me almost six weeks to take the car seat base out of the car. It just felt so final that we really were not bringing him home.
Yes, we will try again. To me the risk is worth it. I have just always wanted to be a mother, that’s how I have always pictured myself…surrounded by a bunch of kids and babies. The thought of trying again brings up feelings of fear and hope and panic and joy. But most of all it brings us hope.
We talk about our future kids quite a bit. But no future child can ever replace our beloved Will. We will always miss him and wonder so many things. Would his hair have stayed that beautiful shade of strawberry blonde? What would his personality been like? Would he have been tall and skinny like his dad? Would he had played sports? So many questions…
I think it’s so important to get outside the bubble you live in. Thankfully during my teens and twenties, I had the chance to do service trips to high-need areas in Mexico, Africa, and India, and I taught middle school through Teach for America in inner-city Philadelphia. I have spent time with some of the neediest and hungriest people in the world. I have thought of them often since losing Will. Because even though they had so little, they were filled with such incredible joy.
I will never forget when I was 21 years old, I was supposed to speak to a group of probably 200 young girls in a refugee camp. Somehow my speech went out the window and they began asking me the most tragic questions, like what do I recommend they do to avoid being raped? Minutes before, these same girls had been dancing and singing and praising God.
So in the midst of the greatest heartbreak of my life, I try to think about the many blessings I have in my life and all that I have to be thankful for. Even without Will, I have an incredibly blessed life. I have a husband who I love dearly, a beautiful, safe, warm home to live in, and more friends and family than I could even count. I am blessed.
So I guess the advice I would give to others is to try to find opportunities that give you perspective. If you are knee-deep right now in the challenges of parenting (my best friend’s little boy is on a sleep boycott!), find someone like me to talk to, to remind you to be thankful even when the parenting days are long and challenging. We would give anything to be cleaning up spit up and losing sleep.
And if you are currently longing and hoping and dreaming of living with kids yourself, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. When this happened to me, I only knew one person who had lost their newborn baby. All around me are friends with happy, healthy babies and kids. It often feels like everyone gets to have a baby except me. So I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. I am sending you a virtual hug.
It’s hard to know what to say in situations like this, so thank you, Robin, for sharing what meant the most to you. I love how you’re finding comfort in Will’s nursery, and I hope that feeling of peace keeps growing in your heart. We are with you and Mark.
One more thing. The nighttime photo of Robin and Mark’s dining room? She snapped that photo herself the night before Will’s delivery. She wanted to remember their last dinner as just the two of them.
P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.
Photos by Kharisma Studios.
126 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Robin Dowdle”
Robin, thank you for being brave and open and for the reminder to love on my kids, especially when I’m not feeling especially loving. Sending a little prayer your way—I know God is there for you, and I hope you will feel Him close.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and your bravery. My thoughts are with you as you move forward.
I am so sorry for your loss. This post brought back memories, as my brother Ryan died at three days old, also from meconium aspiration. I was six years old at the time, and, until I became a mother, I had no inkling the type of grief my mother experienced. Almost 30 years later, I think she still asks herself what she could have done differently. Your home is beautiful and I hope it remains a place of peace and love for you and your family.
Oh Lauren- my heart goes out to your family. A loss like this impacts the entire family- it has for us. I am sure you were a big comfort to your parents even though you didn’t know it. Our nieces and nephews have brought us great comfort. Our 3 year old nephew Micah has reminded us that ,” It’s okay. Jesus loves the babies” and our 2 year old nephew Mika Max asks often when we facetime to “see baby Will” (the huge photo in his crib) and it makes me happy that he remembers him and loves him.
Tears. So many tears. My friend just delivered stillborn boy twins a couple weeks ago and its heart breaking. I wish I could come to your house and hug you. You are so brave for sharing your story.
Oh goodness. Hug your friend for me. And my advice to you as her friend is to be there for the long haul. This is a long road and we need people alongside us for the months and years to come.
Thank you Robin — wishing you peace.
Sister – I am so proud of you for sharing your story. You have been so open and real through this whole ordeal. Your perspective on life and faith in God are so admirable. Will and all the future Dowdle babies are so lucky to have you for a mom.
Sister- other than Mark you have singlehandly been my biggest support since losing Will. I can’t imagine surviving the last few months without you. You have grieved with me, laughed with me, dreamed and hoped for the future with me, and done all the practical things that have helped immensely (booking our trip, making a beautiful Will photo book, researching and ordering Mark’s beer mug). You are the best. I love you.
oh… god my heart. Love to you both… so much love.
I lost our first daughter and second baby at 39 weeks. She was to be delivered that week. It was and still is the hardest thing I have ever been through, and I know so much of what you are feeling because I had so many of the same thoughts you have shared here. (I remember all to well breaking down in Target over baby clothes.) It has been almost 12 years since that day, and while I still have plenty of scars. But my life is so much richer and more beautiful than I could have ever imagine, while I was under the shadow of grief. I know yours will be too. He is a beautiful baby.
Erin, so sorry to hear of the loss of your baby girl. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I have hope for brighter days.
She is such a beautiful soul. I feel so sorry for what her and her husband are going through, and think that she is so brave to share her story.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious Will! Sending hugs your way! (Oh, your home is beautiful, btw!)
Tears streaming down my face… feeling deep grief for the loss of your son and the sorrow you and Mark are experiencing. May God continue to bring peace into your life. Thank you for sharing today — your words and the hope and faith you exhibit have touched me deeply.
Dear Robin, I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you and your husband. I will keep you in my prayers.
Robin, I was not expecting this when I saw your lovely house pictures, and I’m SO sorry for you and Mark. William was a beautiful baby, and its obvious how much you love him. You sound like such a caring mother. I can understand why you spend so much time in William’s nursery – besides your emotional connection, I love all of the details in his room. I hope you have many happy times there in the future.
Thanks, CB. He was loved every moment of his short life. And yes- we are looking forward to many happy memories in his nursery. They will be even sweeter after all we have been through.
Oh Robin, I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Will. Thank you for sharing your story.
So brave and beautiful. I am so grateful for a story if gratitude and heartache. The faith rings loud and I whole heartedlt agree about wanting others to acknowledge your loss, rather than avoid. Thank you for sharing.
Robin, thank you for sharing. And sharing Will’s story. I heard a saying, “Joy shared is joy multiplied, sorrow shared is sorrow divided.” Although sharing doesn’t take the sting away, it’s so important to feel validated when you grieve. It sounds like you have wise friends and family that are caring for you and your husband. There is a very active group on Facebook and on the Internet for those who have had to walk the road of stillbirth and loss, it has helped me to have a group of other mothers who have crossed the same path (in my case – miscarriages). I wish you peace and love and to continue to surround yourself with the things and people that bring you joy. Sending hugs.
Yes, Stephanie. I wholeheartedly agree- I have been very open as I grieve because I believe when we let others in they can help carry the weight. It’s more than I can carry alone. And hugs to you over the loss of your sweet babies.
I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your tour – your house is beautiful but your words even more so. I cried! I think this is one of those tours that will stay with me for a long while. My very best to you and your husband.
You have helped more people than you know by sharing your story. I can’t yet talk about how it helped me, but my heart is full of love and compassion after reading your words (though I couldn’t quite read them all through my own pain). “One of the best things I’ve done to cope is to accept help.” so true and wonderful. I am sorry you lost your beautiful son, and I am grateful that you keep your love for him and that you could share your beautiful honest mourning with us.
Big hugs to you, Tina.
Robin, since this post has been reposted in 2020, I hope it still brings you peace as you share again the love for your son Will, the agony of his loss and your willingness to experience the pain of his life cut short.
Your journey through grief I hope brings you to brighter dayS ahead. Cheers to you from someone who has had a similar experience losing a twin girl a week after birth and having her brother survive. Life can be brutal and I certainly recall the visits to BabyGap and sticking only to the boy side of the store with a stricken look surely on my face. We dealt with a lot if heartache but eventually made the choice to move ahead and live life the best we could with smiles and laughter. It still cuts me to the core when I hear other mom’s talking about how boys are so much easier to raise than girls not realizing that there are many of us so grateful to raise any child to adulthood. You are on the right path!
Robin, I am so sorry for your loss of sweet Will. My daughter Genevieve was stillborn, and I relate so much to what you say here. It’s a terrible club to belong to, but I have met many incredible women because of my daughter. The healing takes a long time, but it does come. I hope that we get an update someday with a picture of Will’s little brother or sister playing in that lovely nursery. Wishing you peace.
Sarah, my heart goes out to you over the loss of your Genevieve. I love that name. And yes- the healing takes a long time so we just keep moving forward day by day! And I would love to share an update once we hopefully fill our home with babies!
Gosh…I really needed to read this today. Thank so much for being brave and sharing this story…
Thank you for sharing your story. And that nighttime photo of your dining room should be in an art museum. After knowing the back story it’s such an incredibly moving photo. I’m so sorry for your loss and the shock of it all. It is certainly not fair. I’m so glad you two have each other and are making your way through life together.
Beck, you are so sweet. Thank you for this note.
I’ve never cried so much over reading a blog post before. Robin, I ache for you and the loss of your beautiful baby. I have my two month old baby sleeping in my arms as I read this and it hurts so much to think of not being able to have him with me. I’m so so sorry. Thank you for sharing this and reminding me how grateful I should be. All three of my babies have had meconium in their fluid, but they were fine and I never really considered what could’ve happened. I wish you the best possible future and pray that your hope will turn to joy again one day.
I know, Lisa, I just never even imagined this could happen. Squeeze your babies extra tight for me. We all have many blessings in our lives.
Tears from me, too. Like you, Robin, my daughter was delivered 10 days late…I was also a transfer from a birthing center…my baby also had swallowed meconium, had difficulty breathing and stayed in NICU for one week. No one ever told me your scenario was a possibility. My daughter is almost 16 and I will hug her super hard today. Tears!! Thank you for sharing your tender story and your beautiful house.
This was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your story, Robin. I’m so sorry for your & your husband’s loss. The photo of the crammed closet of baby gear really took my breath away — as did your analogy of driving down the coast and being slammed out of the blue. Thank you, Gabrielle, for giving Robin this space to tell her story.
Thank you, Robin, for sharing your story and teaching us how to better empathize with someone who is grieving for their child. I have suffered the miscarriage of twins in the first trimester, but even though they are related experiences, yours is much different from my own. I’m afraid I would be one of those people who said nothing for fear of saying the wrong thing. But as I read your story, and especially once you showed the first picture of Will’s nursery, I completely lost it. I started reading this tour with a quick lunch and plans to go about my day as normal, but instead I sat here, allowing myself to slow down and grieve with you, shedding many tears. Thank you for being so brave and honest. Your home is so beautiful (I have many of the same books on my own shelves) and I’m so grateful that you have an amazing circle of friends and family around you. I’ve been meditating on Psalm 34 all day and it came to mind again while reading your story. Blessings on you and your husband.
Thank you, Hannah, for this kind note. It means a lot to me. And I’m sorry to hear about your twins. I will have to read Psalm 34 with my husband tonight.
What an important story to tell. Thank you for sharing. As a student midwife, I know i will take Robin’s perspective of hospital care with me as i journey forward. Sending prayers.
Angela! People like you are so important. The medical staff who took care of us were so incredible. We had one NICU nurse that I am convinced was an angel sent by God to be his hands and feet during our time of need. Blessings to you.
Love to you!
Blessings to you.
Hi Robin, I’m so sorry for your loss of your baby boy. Your story is so important and the fact that you’re sharing it here. The loss of a baby isn’t something we talk about but your wisdom is going to help so many parents who have suffered a loss. Your home is beautiful. The nursery is gorgeous and I can understand your connection to Will there.
Thank you, Lisa, for this sweet comment. I wanted to share my story now because I feel all to often we wait until the happy ending to share our story. Well right now our story is just plain hard but even in the midst of that there is good and blessings and hope. I’m pushing myself to find them everyday.
Thank-you for sharing your story—True bravery. Thank-you Gabrielle for representing parents who have lost their children early in life and who are forced to work through the challenges of their family identity. We belong in this section of your blog.
We do! Because it you have lost a child you know that they are never far from your thoughts. That motherly instinct never goes away.
Holding good thoughts for you and your family as you move forward. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Hi have loved “Living with Kids” for a while but never felt.compelled to comment until today.
Thank you for sharing your story Robin, your wisdom and courage are an inspiration. I pray God will carry the pain you cannot bear so that you can rest as you heal, and that He honours your commitment with rich blessings for you and your husband.
Suzy! Thank you for commenting- it means a lot to me.
Thank you for sharing your story. You are strong for accepting help. I am so sorry for your loss.
Sending you a virtual hug back. I am so sorry to hear about your son. I especially loved reading how you can just pop past your aunts for a hug on the drive home… family is so important in this time and I am so glad for you that they are there for you.
Your son’s nursery is one of the most beautifully designed, most serene spaces I have ever seen. Thank you for mustering the strength and courage to share your heartbreaking story with us. Today when my kids were driving me crazy (again), I remembered your words about being thankful even when I feel frustrated and tired. I don’t know where your journey to motherhood will take you but I know that ANY child would be lucky to have you and your husband as parents. You are amazing.
PS Thank you Gabrielle for including Robin’s story in this series!
Kate- thank you for this touching note. Be kind to yourself- parenthood is very hard. You are doing the best you can every day.
So much love to you, Mark, and your extended families on the death of your sweet William. I relate to so much of what you write – just over six years ago, my second daughter was born at 24 weeks and did not survive. You and Mark are so wise to be doing the things you’re doing to strengthen your relationship. I hope that, in proper time, you will be blessed with more child(ren) to fill your beautiful home.
Oh Julie- I am so sorry to hear of your loss. And yes- we are praying and hoping that God will bless us with more children in the future. You can pray for us.
Wow that was beautiful and powerful. That must have been so hard to share but I am so incredibly grateful she did share and we can see what a precious gift Will is to the world.
Oh, Robin, I can’t stop wiping away the tears. Your honesty and humility is incredible. I am so sorry for Will’s unexpected passing. Though I’m a stranger, I would give you the biggest bear hug if I could. Sending virtual support.
Amanda- I can feel your hug. Thank you! We will take all the hugs and support we can get.
Oh, my heart. There was a little boy named William, he was yours and you loved him- that is why he matters. Thank you for allowing us to meet him and to grieve with you and for opening your home to us. I am better for having read your words and I will pray for you and believe for your future joy.
Dear Robin, Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss. You truly have the heart of a mother, and I am sure your son, now in heaven, is honored to call you his.
I can’t stop crying, this is extremely sad. I am so so sorry for your loss, Robin. You are an amazing mom and this touching interview will stay as a timeless portrayal of an incredibly strong woman. Although the pain is unbearable, this is not how your story is going to end and I am sure a lot of happy moments is waiting for you in the future. Sending prayers and hugs your way.
Thank you, Jasna, for your love and support. And I agree- it is incredibly difficult now but this isn’t the end of the story.
Oh Robin. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful William. I lost a son when I was 18.5 weeks pregnant and one thing that brought me comfort in my grief was when I cried to the nurse that I loved and wanted him and she said that he knew because babies know when they are loved. Your William knew he was loved.
Oh Elizabeth- I wholeheartedly agree. Our babies knew they were loved. They were so loved and wanted.
Tears flowing as I read this, what an amazing woman you are. And what a beautiful way to remember your son, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Sending you so much love
I remember talking with my mother after my daughter died. I asked her if the grief would ever get easier, would I ever get through this pain? I could tell by her eyes that I didn’t want to know the answer. She told me that the grief would pass eventually but the pain would always be there. Twenty-two years later, I’m so glad she told me the truth. I measured my progress by how long I could go without thinking about my daughter: at first it was every minute, then every 10 minutes (after a few months), every 30 minutes (after 6 months), every hour (by a year). I’m glad that I won’t progress past thinking of her every day when I virtually hug her tightly so grateful for her short time with me.
Helen, thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. Your comment is so helpful as I work to wade through this unbearable grief- it will never go away but we learn to carry it.
Ahhhh, but it is bearable. You are proof. And after a while it becomes an honor. You can do this, one breath at a time.
Sending thoughts, prayers and hugs your way! Robin, your strength is so admirable. This post, and the comments from fellow readers in particular, reminded me of the wonders and positive power of the Internet. It reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles and brings together a supportive community of individuals willing to share, sympathize and support one another.
Exactly! Yes! There is so much love and support out there in the world.
I am so sorry for your loss! I am sending you a world of love to you and your husband. But I keep thinking that when you will have other children, they will be so lucky to have you both as parents…. Look at you both, you are going through one of the must gut-wrenching pains of existence and being able to keep the faith, gratitude, love and hope! and even more, being able to share this with the world and educate us… Educate us to how to approach others who go through the same experience and remind us to look for our blessings even in the amidst of pain. But I would also like to say that Will was deeply loved his entire existence and brought light and joy and strengthened your love and in this he was also blessed and so were you. No one can explain what happened to Will or why this happened to you… but Will’s legacy for us all is how much he is loved and cherished by you all, how beautifully his parents have been facing his loss and how much this teaches the rest of us. Thank you Will! Thank you Robin and Mark!
Oh Lauren, I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby boy, William. I admire your strength. I am so glad that you are surrounded by the love of family and friends. My heart goes out to you. I wish you peace and love.
Thank you for sharing your story about beautiful William and your family. I am sending you thoughts of warmth, comfort, peace, and joy. Your nursery looks so welcoming, and I love the photos you shared of William.
Thanks, Marlena. I know I am biased but I think he is just the cutest!
I am so sorry for your loss, Robin!!!
Tears flowing as I read this. I just can’t imagine a day without my beloved kids.
The back story and these photoes really bring all the sadness to me.
I hope that both of you can make your way through life together.
I read this through tears and am so sorry for your loss. They say that grief is the price we pay for love. It’s a huge price to pay, but worth the investment. Your overwhelming love for William shines through this whole piece and your grief is palpable. I am in awe of your ability to continue to hope, trust and love. I wish you well. You, and William, are in my thoughts.
As a mother, you just innately love them completely and fully. Even when doctors are telling you your baby is likely not going to survive. Still you love them with every ounce of your being. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat- it was a gift to have all those joyous moments when I was pregnant with him.
Oh, Robin. Thank you for sharing yourself and William with us all! You are brave and strong and sound like you have great support and community. We lost our first daughter when I was 6 months pregnant. I don’t know how I would have navigated our loss without the support of our family. I wholeheartedly reccommend adding professional help to your support network, especially when you get pregnant again! I had a lovely LCSW who I chatted with during my next pregnancy to help manage anxiety. (My second daughter is now 9 months and thriving:) The advice that you and your husband will grieve differently is too true and having a space where I could continue the conversations was crucial for me. And grief is not linear! Like, the day William passed was the worst day and it gets incrementally better from there- just not true. Grief will ebb and flow. (In retrospect I realize how much hormones play a role in this- some days of the month I was just adrift in my grief and others I was on firmer footing.) Sending my very best to you and all good wishes for your journey!
Hannah! All of this resonates with me. Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry to hear that you also lost your first baby. I wish we weren’t a part of this club together. And I completely agree about counseling- my husband and I cureently go to both couples and individual counseling. It’s good but hard.
Hannah, this is such good advice! It made me think of my own experiences with childbirth. My first was quite traumatic though thankfully our son made it and is alive and well and now age 22. But for the second birth, of my daughter who’s now 20, I am so thankful I hired a doula who ended up being my greatest support. I think the anxiety and overwhelm from the first birth could have really crippled me had I not had that support person to talk to during both my pregnancy and the birth itself.
Robin, your story made me cry so many tears. Thank you for sharing your love and pain and grief and beautiful home with us. I will not forget you and will pray for your family to find peace and comfort. I don’t even know if this is the time to give any type of advice, but being reminded of my own experiences makes me realize you might find a doula or other similar type of support during your next birth to be very helpful. May it be so.