My Son Jeremy

For seventeen years, I have been haunted by the seemingly innocent question, “How many kids do you have?”

I used to say two. Then I said one. Now I say three.

The math gets confusing.

Over the last few days, I’ve read a lot of articles about why Mother’s Day is terrible. Articles written by infertile women. Single women. Women who have miscarried time and time again. I understand. Sometimes the happiest of celebrations, the most innocuous of questions, the most common of conversation fillers can be… torture.

Cruel in the extreme.

Take-it-home-and-cry-in-the-shower painful.

Those of us who bear the pain write about it
or not.

Talk about it
or not.

But we always, always think it, feel it, live it.

My first child, a boy, was born in 1994. His name was Jeremy. When he was 7 ½ months old, he died of SIDS.

Five months later, I became pregnant with my second child, Collin. When my belly began to show during that pregnancy, the questions started.

In the beginning of the long years since, I answered honestly… “I have two children; my first son died.”

That was a tough line for others to hear, especially those like grocery baggers and sales clerks. What were they to do with that big, fat, ugly sentence? In what part of the mind does one put that for processing, and where does the conversation go from there?

Friends. Pregnant women. People who told me I was too young to be Collin’s mom. Conversations flagged. Women cried. Others became embarrassed at their gaffe.

So I lied.

At first I didn’t always lie. Just mostly. Let the dust settle a little on a friendship then dropped the bomb. Resolved to never bring out the truth for those with whom interactions were limited to an exchange of goods or services. It was a “need-to-know” kind of thing.

And then the sometimes lie became an always lie, even with my close mama friends.

Why bring it up? Why deal with the awkwardness, the “I’m so sorry-s?” The fear that clutched their throats for their little ones, or even worse: the questions. Questions borne of living in a society overrun with talk shows and tabloids and gossipmongers.

So. Not. Worth it.

Except that it is.

Over the last few years, since becoming pregnant a third and a fourth time, it has become worth it. Each time I’m asked “how many?” Or, “Is this your first (or second or third) child,” I die a little bit inside. I feel the lie eat away at me. I feel my son in Heaven wonder if I’m not his mama after all.

But I am. I breastfed, co-slept, sling-wore, and mourned, am still mourning, my child who would be 18 now.

I AM HIS MAMA.

I just want that to be…. known. I don’t need to discuss it. I don’t even want to discuss it. But when another mom is referencing her children, I want to be able to make my own reference. To Jeremy. To say, “Oh yes! I remember dealing with that after Jeremy was born,” and have it be okay.

My now-six-month-old son is the last child I will have. And in the time since that fully hit me, I have become fixated on the number that flashes on my mommy resume: 3. 3. 3. Mom of three.

No.

And so over the last year, I have opened up a bit more. One online profile for me says “mom of four.” Another says of “mom of three.” At least one blog post references Jeremy. I’ve been opening the door a little more each day, and today I’m going all the way.

Why? Because of the stirrings and conviction in my heart. Each day I think about it more and more and MORE and some days it’s all I think about. And now with Mother’s Day on Sunday, and the inundation of articles on how infertile women, single women, and women who have miscarried time and time again suffer through Mother’s Day, I felt the time was right to share my story as they have shared theirs.

I may never post this. It would make things awkward. It would open up questions. It would make my friends feel pressured to say the right thing. Question if they should introduce me to a new mama friend as a mother of three or a mother of four. Honestly, I don’t know how they, or even I, should handle that last question.

But I am, and always will be, a mother of four. To not say so ignores so much, I don’t know if I can continue with it any longer. But to say so seems…. attention seeking. Dramatic. But I can’t pick and choose anymore. It’s either/or not neither/nor.

If this ends up on the internet, I guess I’ll have my answer.

Jeremy.  May 13, 1995

Jeremy.
May 13, 1995
October 10, 1994–May 22, 1995

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “My Son Jeremy

  1. Pingback: Crisis of Confidence – Redbud Writers Guild

  2. Pingback: A Theological (Mis)Treatment of Hello, Dolly! | jamie calloway-hanauer

  3. Pingback: 2014: The Year That Really, Really Sucked. | jamie calloway-hanauer

  4. Pingback: Tattoos and Cardigans {Jamie Hanauer} | bronwyn's corner

  5. Pingback: Just Like Heaven | jamie calloway-hanauer

  6. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Worm Lips | jamie calloway-hanauer

  7. Thank you so much for your courage to share about Jeremy. Thank you for your faith. Looking forward to meeting you some day. Greetings from Northern Mexico/South Texas. God bless you !

    Like

    • Thank you, Alma, for reading and taking the time to comment with such supportive words. Just today I had a chance to share Jeremy with another woman who also had experienced the loss of a child. We were both in tears, but it was nonetheless beautiful. And yes, I look forward to meeting you someday as well! 🙂

      Like

  8. Jamie – I’m just catching up on your blog and am again, incredibly impressed by you. I am in awe of your honesty, your fierceness, and your ability to write it all down so clearly while still keeping it raw. Love to you. And I’m so glad that Aaron is ok.

    Like

    • Thank you, Katina!! I’ve been thinking of you guys a lot (and praying, of course). I hope everyone is holding up okay. I’m excited that I might come up with a fancy new recipe for you and win an exotic prize….

      Like

  9. Hi Jamie,
    I struggle with this question every day. Two years ago my husband and I lost our fourth child unexpectedly at age 7 from complications with cerebral palsy. One month ago, we welcomed a new baby, so we get this question a lot. Sometimes when asked how many children we have I say, “Five at home.” Tonight, before reading this post, I thought I might change that to, “Plenty!” But now I realize the value of an honest answer as it allows others who’ve lost a child to share their grief. It also tells them their children still count. Like your story told me. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • It means so much to me that you took the time to read, comment and let me know of a bit of your story, loss, and struggle with the same question. You, your husband, and your little ones — ALL of them — will be in my prayers tonight.

      Like

  10. Pingback: The Back of the Ambulance | jamie calloway-hanauer

  11. May God have mercy on your broken heart. The picture of your son is precious; did he have red hair? Thank you for sharing your story so honestly. I also loved reading the verses from Job you shared in “In These Middle Years.” This post about your son reminded me of this verse (thanks be to God for poetry that is TRUE):

    He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
    and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11

    Like

    • Thanks, Gaby. It felt good (in a relative sense) to put this out there. I’ve gotten such great understanding and support, more than I ever thought I would. ❤

      Like

  12. I lost my daughter last year to SIDS. I have already struggled with this question. I have no idea if God will bless me with another baby, but I don’t know how to answer this. I also have clients who have asked “How’s your baby?” Awkward pause if and when I tell the truth.

    Like

    • I am so, so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your story here. I do hope God blesses you with another baby, but I know you will always mourn the one you lost. You are in my thoughts and prayers….

      Blessings,
      Jamie

      Like

  13. Jamie, this is heartbreaking, and heartbreakingly beautifully written.

    I dont think our experience comes close to comparing with yours in pain, but it struck a chord. we lost our first in a miscarriage and when we were pregnant the second time I made a point of acknowledging this was our second child. But, like you, with more kids the first was forgotten. Until one day my friend called me while I was in the grocery store and told me about the book “heaven is for real”. She told me of the four year old who had an experience of heaven and met a girl of about 8 who introduced herself as his sister, and when he came back his parents were blown away because they had miscarried 8 years before and never told him. I had a breakdown right there in trader joes. I can’t wait to meet our baby one day.

    And on that day, I look forward to meeting Jeremy.

    Much love to you, brave mama of four.

    Like

    • Oh, thank you for this!

      I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I used to think there were varying levels of mourning based on age of child lost. Now I know that is just not true – we all grieve our losses the same. Loss hurts, and for a long time. Your words of hope in Heaven mean so much to me…. I have the same hope. Not a day goes by I don’t think about it. Much love and blessings to you. I look forward to following your work!

      Like

  14. I am so glad to find your work. I read your recent piece in Sojourners about the stigma of mental illness, and wanted to read more. I saw your poem “SIDS” and thought, “I hope that didn’t happen to her in real life,” and then I found this. And I just realized it is the anniversary of the day you lost your precious Jeremy. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you peace.

    Like

    • Thank you, Jen. I was sitting here processing the day and all it holds when I received your comment. It brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing how words of thanks, understanding, and peace can help make even a day like this one so much better. Your words truly do mean something to me and I’m so glad you took the time to send them.

      Like

  15. Thanks for liking my post, Jamie – and I just read yours on your son, Jeremy. How beautiful, truly. Looks like we have a lot in common, both here in the Bay Area. I’m looking forward to getting to know you through the blog portal!

    Like

  16. Sometimes when the light shines on a piece of your soul, it no longer matters what other’s reactions are. You are a mom of four. ❤

    Like

  17. Pingback: Why We Cancelled Mother’s Day | jamie calloway-hanauer

  18. Jamie, this is beautiful. Just beautiful. Not that you had to endure this tragedy, of course. Nothing is beautiful about suddenly losing a child.

    But.

    Your transparency is stunning. God nudges us to reveal new parts of our stories after time…
    You are revealing this truth at just the right time He had planned all along. For such a time as this, friend.

    Share your story. Share your pain. Even when it’s awkward. Even if people don’t know what to say.

    There’s healing in the telling and you never know when the ears listening need to hear those exact words so they can say “Me, too.”

    Blessings to you, mama of four.

    Like

    • Your comment makes my heart both break and soar. Break for obvious reasons, and soar because after opening up this part of my life I feel more “understood” than I ever could have hoped for. It is so good to be affirmed in following what our hearts are telling us to do. Thank you. ❤

      Like

  19. Oh Jamie, it breaks my heart still to this day. I don’t know what pain that you have been going through all of these years. But I am beyond proud of you. I know that we haven’t been close, but I want you to know that I love you very much. I’m so happy to see you smile again.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s