Monday, November 21, 2011

Spitting Image

Wow! Motherhood is a couple of full time jobs!! I can't believe how much this little guy needs all the time, and yet sleeps all the time, too. I am overwhelmed by nursing that takes over every two hours of every day. I am exhausted by the lack of sleep and endless wandering the open spaces of our small home, pacing to keep the little one from crying once I sit down. I am certain that I am wearing a path by my scuffling across the hardwood floors. I have little time to remember to eat and shower, let alone write a blog. So, without making too many excuses, I say that I am a new mom learning this new role and simply have not had a chance to update this blog as I would like. But, I have been mentally writing this post for weeks.

From the moment I learned I was having a boy this pregnancy, I wondered if he would resemble my Ethan. I didn't think too much of it because of course they would be full blooded brothers and most certainly would look somewhat similar. But, when I saw my little boy and really looked him over good, I was in awe. This child is the spitting image of his late brother, Ethan. Aside from hair color and an entire pound weight difference at birth (Ethan was 8#9, and Liam was 7#9), the two could be twins. I shared this sentiment with all of you before and continue to share with people when they ask who Liam looks like; he looks exactly like his handsome daddy and is a spitting image of his brother.

While I was in the hospital, I did not have my photo album of Ethan handy to compare and quite frankly was drugged and sleep deprived too much to really care to compare. But, when we came home from the hospital and I had time to think a little more clearly, I began to investigate this further.

"Shaun, don't you think Liam looks like Ethan?" I asked when Liam was a week old and while Shaun was holding his 7 pound body chest to chest.

"Well, they are brothers, so yeah, I guess, a little."

"I am serious. They look so much alike," I tell him as I get the photo album that contains hundreds of photos of our firstborn, despite the five short days of his life. "Look here," I point to the poloroid taken moments after Ethan's birth. "Can you see it now?"

I was leaning over the arm of the overstuffed chair my husband was sitting in, displaying the album next to him. Shaun turned his head and seemed upset. I hadn't meant to upset him, I just thought it was so cool how the boys looked so much alike. He handed me the baby, while I watched tears stream down his face, "I can't do this," he squeaked out.

Shaun left the room. I felt bad. I certainly had grieved and mourned and allowed God to heal my heart over the last 5 and 3/4 years since Ethan had lived and died. And, I thought my husband had too. We spent many hours in counseling, many hours in prayer, and many hours analyzing our grief process. I hadn't imagined that looking at Ethan's picture would illicit such an emotional response from my 6'4", 255 pound mostly stoic macho man.

A few minutes later, Shaun returned to the living room and picked the album up. "I am sorry I left the room," he said, "but, it just occurred to me that I am doing something I was never able to do with Ethan. We were never able to bring Ethan home and see him grow up, and now we are going to watch what we have been missing out on for so long."

He was right, and I reminded him of what our pastor who had counseled us so many years ago had said, "you can grieve and mourn and try to get over what you have lost, but there will still be moments and times you will be blindsided. And you will have to grieve again as a situation comes about that you haven't experienced before, like the birth of a subsequent baby."

We looked through the photo album together, sitting in the overstuffed chair side by side with Liam, our second-born son, snuggled against my chest. They both bore their mother's unattached earlobes and ears. They both had the same "Plato" forehead. They both had the same shaped face, complete with Shaun's nose, brow bone, eyelids, and unique lip structure. Our two sons have the same long fingers and toes, and a broad puffed out chest. Both have daddy's long healthy fingernails and a curly little toe. Ethan's hair was a light brown with red tint, while Liam has long dark brown hair, but on the top when the light hits it just right a bit of auburn shines through. It's uncanny to me the resemblance. Both of them have tense shoulders like their mom, and Ethan didn't even have any central nervous control! We looked through the album remembering what once was and what might have been and then looked at our little living breathing son we got to take home and fell even more in love. Our God truly was proving that He was in control and was redeeming our loss. We are humbly blessed. Thank you, Jesus.

I don't think these pics do it justice, but here is a glimpse: Ethan's first pic is in the middle, and Liam is on the top and bottom. I also have another pic of Ethan in my profile if you want to try to compare for yourselves. You all may not be able to see it, but trust me...SPITTING IMAGE!!

Sometimes the sleep deprivation gets to me at the 3:30am feedings. I find myself nodding off and then look down at the profile of Liam, lying on a boppy pillow, sleeping in my arms. At least twice I have been transported to the moments before Ethan's death. We knew we had to let Ethan die by removing him from life support, but wanted our friends and family to say goodbye first. That day dragged on and when Shaun's dad was the last person to hold him, just shy of 11pm, Ethan's color turned blue and his pulse ox was declining quickly. The nurse rushed in and said that he was about to die and asked me if I wanted to hold him while he did. I immediately traded places with the grandpa and everyone except Shaun and I were in the private room. Ethan felt so nice in arms, curled up in the fetal position, with his head facing my chest, and while I rubbed his cheeks with my hand. It took about 20 minutes for Ethan's heart to stop beating, even though the tubes were still intact. I caressed him and sobbed as he drifted out of my arms and into the Lord's.

I found myself back into the present with my living son, Liam in my arms, curled up in the fetal position, with his head facing my chest, while I rubbed his cheeks with my hand. The tears dripped from my eyes. I miss my Ethan. I miss the baby he was and the potential he had. I miss the person he was to become. Sometimes it stings and sometimes it burns and sometimes I cry. Yes, I have grieved and mourned and moved on, but there are time when you can't grieve unless you have been there. I wonder how many other situations I am going to find myself in missing my boy who died in my arms.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with a son who looks an awful lot like his brother. I praise you that we all are fearfully and wonderfully made and that you knit us all together in our mother's wombs. I praise you that you are a God of redemption, of finding what was once lost, of restoring what was once broken and healing what was once hurt. I ask you Lord to continue to show me glimpses of your glory by revealing these sorts of things to me at the perfect times. I ask that you continue to bless us, so that we may be a blessing to others. I ask for peace for our souls and our families. I ask that you bless the women reading this blog that are currently pregnant after loss and awaiting news of a healthy baby. I pray that you reach out to them, give them peace and strength and hope for the future. I KNOW it is hard to think about what the positive outcome will be, but I ask you Lord to show them something to let them endure the rest of their pregnancies and births without fear. I ask all this and so much more, in Jesus' name, AMEN!


  1. I started to tear up a bit. Not of sadness. Rather of pride, admiration and happiness on so many levels.

  2. I can definitely see a resemblance, Sunshine! Ethan's time in the hospital left him too swollen to see his features correctly, but I can easily remember him from the funeral. He was such a remarkably beautiful baby :-). Liam's resemblance to Ethan is unmistakeable, that's for sure. I continue to be amazed at God's Great Plan that has given you and Shaun the opportunity to parent a little boy who seems to be, in many ways, so much like the child He has sitting with Him in Heaven. What a blessing :-)