Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beating the Odds

I've been told that the chances of my marriage surviving after the death of our son Gabriel are slim.  Of course, I was told the chances of Gabriel living for more than a day were slim, too.  Wouldn't it be a shame if Gabriel beat the odds, but we did not?

The truth is, Ben and I have struggled a great deal in the first year and half of our marriage, even without the added pressures of losing two children in that time.  I often say that Ben is very much your textbook male, and I am every bit your textbook woman.  Ben is quiet and sometimes withdrawn, I am loud and sometimes too open.    Ben tries to silence his emotions, I am loud and passionate in expressing mine.  When we are good together, we are unstoppable.  When we clash we are each others' worst enemy.

Living so closely with Ben sometimes makes him the victim of my rage.  While I am usually publicly composed, at home I allow myself to fall apart.  I struggle to get out of bed in the morning, struggle to find a reason to face another day.  Then, at night I keep myself up late, dwelling on my guilt and my sadness.  I want someone to blame for what happened to Gabriel.  Sometimes I blame myself for not taking enough folic acid, or for not doing all I should have been doing to absorb the folic acid.  Sometimes I blame Ben, I accuse him of never really wanting a baby or even accuse him of never wanting Gabriel to survive as long as he did.  I know that those accusations also have roots in my own guilty conscience.  There were times during Gabriel's life that I thought, "I didn't know what I was asking for when I asked for time with Gabriel, because I now I am falling apart as I care for him."  I wondered often during my pregnancy if I even really wanted children as much as I said I did, because I missed my life before pregnancy, my freedom to eat and drink what I wanted, to spend money on myself, and to chase my own dreams without "interference."  Sometimes I think that maybe Gabriel's loss was exactly what I deserved for looking back so much instead of looking ahead.  Those thoughts haunt me constantly, even as I am out living again my pre-pregnancy lifestyle, and when they get to be too much I find Ben an easy target to lash out at.

This is not to say Ben does not have his faults and shortcomings in this time.  I want to complain about him, but I guess I still love him too much to smear his name by writing about him knowing he will not take the opportunity to defend himself.  I'm still his wife and while I aim to keep this blog honest so it can be a tool for others facing a similar situation, some things are still private and I know crossing those lines will only put more strain on our marriage.  A strain that we may not be able to bounce back from in this already fragile state.  As much as we have both hurt, and hurt each other, since Gabriel's birth I'm not willing to let us fall victim to the statistics.  There's a reason the numbers are so high, and I am experiencing them now.  The grief process always includes certain emotions and experiences, the variation is in the degree to which people and couples are effected.  At times the process gets to be too much and I want to give up and that's when I have to draw on my son's example.  He defied the odds, and I haven't learned anything if I haven't learned to aim to beat them too.


  1. I've been keeping up with your blog via e-mail. I don't know what it is like to lose a child, but I do know profound grief when I lost my mother. It nearly destroyed my life. It does get better with time, even though sometimes it creeps back up on you when you least expect it. Stay strong, stop blaming yourself (that's what I did, and guilt is a miserable feeling to live with), and defy the odds, just like your miracle son.

  2. Hi Andrea,

    I learned of your story through a facebook friend whose prayer chain I am on. I am so very sorry to learn of your loss and am keeping you and your husband in my prayers.

    I just wanted to share with you another blog written by a woman in my parish (whom I've met only in passing) who had a child with trisomy 18. Her son, Jedidiah, passed after just under 2 weeks, and she blogged during the pregnancy and has continued to blog since then. She blogs for the benefit of those who have gone through something similar, so they know they are not alone in their feelings and grief. Here is her blog if you're interested:


    May God bless, comfort and strengthen you and your husband.

    Becky M.

  3. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=71929388

    I don't know if anyone has shared this with you, but someone created a memorial page for your amazing little guy. I was DEEPLY touched by him and sponsored the page (removing the ads). I encourage you to utilize it....I know when I created one for my grandmother, it was an amazing place for me to "talk" with her and helped me through some of my grief. I am sure the person who created the page would be more than willing to transfer the page to you and you can customize it as you wish....adding pictures and doing all sorts of things :)

    Thank you for sharing Gabriel's story. He REALLY REALLY tugged at my heart<3

  4. Hi Carrie-

    I hope this message gets to you, as I do not know how else to contact you! I was unaware that the memorial page had been created, but I did visit it today and I thank you very much for sponsoring his page. I will do some investigating and try to find out who set it up, as I do not know who it was.


  5. Hi Andrea, first off, God be with you. And He most definitely is, even in your darkest hours... (((hugs))). I just wanted to tell you that the woman who created that page above, her name is Rose and her email is morning_roses at ymail dot com. (maybe gmail if that doesn't work?) it appears that the whole website might be hers, as she's created over 18,000 memorial pages. And back to you and your family... Gabriel was such a cute little man, and such a fighter, thank you for sharing his story... Bless you and Ben as you mourn and go through this journey, I pray, together, as God intended. Much love to you both.