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March 2, 2013

Gregory Hughes - 3/1/2013

***I wrote this out in my Drafts.  I thought a long time about publishing.  This is my space and I've never had to write anything so painful.  Part of me is screaming to leave it in Drafts.  The other part of me is pushing to publish it so that...I don't know...that it is healing for me to make it public among my readers.  But I am hurting so much right now, that I think it's cathartic, just to get it out...to purge my soul of these words so that I can write new words.  I don't know if I can or if I will write new words.  But part of me feels like I have to get these words out so new words can come in.  So, that is why I publish.  If you're not in a place where you can read about a woman whose heart has broken, no shattered, at this moment, you may want to just pass***

My baby boy, Gregory, was born and died at 6:09 a.m. March 1, 2013.  This is my letter to him on the day after.

My dearest Gregory. My sweet baby boy. I miss you so much. I love you so much.

When I  found out you were conceived, I was shocked and happy, too.  It can be that way you know.  I actually have quite a level of surprise with each of your siblings when we found out they were on the way.  Always surprise that God would bless us with this supreme gift.  And we've been blessed 6 times.  That's a lot really.  And it's more than we could have ever expected or deserved.

You were even more special, you know.  #6!  You make our family larger than the ones your dad and I grew up in.  We sometimes felt a little out of our comfort zone thinking about it.  Thoughts of larger vehicles, new sleeping arrangements, special day care arrangements floated constantly in and out of my mind.  I had a hunch you were a boy from the minute I heard your heart beat. You might be the kid to even the house out (4 males and 4 females).  Your strong heart beat at 135 bpm when I was 13 weeks pregnant with you. 

When I heard that heartbeat you were only about 4 weeks away from moving on to be with our Heavenly Father.  I am glad I didn't know that then.

I struggled physically through this pregnancy because I never felt good.  People asked often "how are you feeling?" and I never had a good answer because I didn't want to tell people that I felt "blah" and I wanted to be joyful at your presence in our lives.  So I never knew what to say because I really didn't feel anything better than "blah" or "kinda yucky" or anything like that.  I was overly fatigued.  I passed all of this off thinking-- well, that's life for a mom of 5, growing a 6th, with a full-time job and a full plate of activities for the other children -- I'm supposed to be tired.  But knowing what I know now...it makes sense...you were struggling to come along.  And my body was trying to bring you along, but it wasn't gonna happen this time.

My precious baby -- I never got to see you alive, moving around in my womb.  I am starting to realize I may have only felt you move a couple of times, and those might have been flukes.  I started to get concerned around 18 weeks when, if I poked my abdomen, I didn't get a poke back from you.  With your sisters and brothers...even if I didn't feel regular movement yet (and they were all pretty late with that except one) I could poke and get a poke back.  But you never poked me back.

I did not get an early ultrasound.  I was sure of your conception date, so Dr. H. didn't order an ultrasound to date the pregnancy.  Perhaps that is a blessing.  Perhaps we would have found out what would ultimately take you Home to Jesus and lived this pregnancy in fear of the day you would leave us.  And instead, we simply loved you and anticipated you up to that moment when they couldn't find your heart beating at that ultrasound when you were supposed to be 18w 6d along.  

You measured 17w 2d.  That means you most likely passed away in the following hours or the day following my last prenatal appointment.  Your heart was soft, but the doctor said he could hear it and it beat at 115 bpm.  I wanted to ask him to do it again so I can hear it better, but I had your older sisters and Dominic with me, and I didn't want to cause a scene with them there.  So, I accepted it.  I marveled because the lowest heartbeat rating for Dominic was 120 bpm in utero.  

The pain that seared through my heart in the seconds after the technician said she couldn't find heart movement is completely indescribable.  My sobs were of the primal, uncontrolled sort.  And I couldn't stop crying.  I had to call Craig.  I didn't want to.  But I had to.  We cried on the phone for what seemed like an hour, but was probably only about 5 minutes.  I was lost.  What do I do now?  The technicians were calling Dr. H.  I was still lost.  The fog set in.  I literally could not stop sobbing and it felt like someone had punched me in the gut.  Over and over.  Every time I had to tell someone on the phone what happened, I couldn't stop the sobs as I said, "My baby died."

We arrived at the hospital around 7:00 p.m. February 28.  During the registration process, I felt like I needed to request a room out of the way in Labor and Delivery.  The registration lady assured me she thought it was a room out of the way, but if I was not comfortable when I saw it to have them move me.  I began crying in her office.  The crying turned to sobbing as I walked with my husband to the elevators.  The sobbing turned inconsolable as we walked into Labor and Delivery and past the nurse station.  When I saw the room, I knew it was perfect.  It was halfway down the back hallway.  No one would hear me sob as I delivered you and I wouldn't hear other women having their babies...their full-term babies.  

They began cytotec around 8 p.m. and Craig and I visited with our brother-in-law who stopped by.  Then we tried to sleep.  I awoke at 2:15 and they put in the next dose.  The nurse stayed and told me what to expect when I saw you for the first time. She asked if I wanted to hold you.  I hadn't even thought of that as an option, though I understand why they ask now.  The nurse told me about how your skin would be so thin...kind of like the membrane under an egg shell that helps hold the egg together.  I would be able to see the blood flowing in your skin.  But I would see your eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet...everything.  I would just need to be careful and understand that you weren't old enough for your skin to be creamy or flesh colored.  I'm glad she prepared me.  She also prepared me for what it would feel like when it was time to have you.  Dr. H returned to the floor just in time to tend to you and to me.  He broke your water and you were born within minutes after that.  They told me you were a boy...and I knew it already.  They put you on a blanket and I held you.  So gently...I held you and looked at you.  You were perfect.  Your eyes were closed and your nose was so perfect.  Your mouth looked like your Daddy's mouth.  And your tiny hands...the pad of your entire hand could fit comfortably on the fingerprint pad of my index finger.  But you had five perfect fingers on each hand and you kept them close to you in your fetal position.

I cried because you were so beautiful.  You were tiny.  You were as beautiful as all of my babies have been. I cried because I love you so much and now I don't get to take you home, and feed you a bottle and burp you.  I don't get to change your diapers.  I don't get to help you learn to crawl and then walk.  I don't get to watch your sisters fuss over holding you.  I don't get to watch you play cars with your brothers. 

I continue to cry. At Mass this morning, I cried as I received the Holy Eucharist because I miss you and because you are already in full Communion with our Lord and I desire so badly to be there with you. I cry because I know you'll never serve Mass with your brothers.  I cry because...  I cry because...I love you and miss you and want you here with me.  I cry because I know you're where you are supposed to be, but it hurts so bad that you're not here with me. I want you to be here with me. 

So, it's time to call Father Rogers and get some arrangements made for a Mass and burial.  I love you so much.  I miss you so much.  I am trying so hard to understand why I needed this, but I know God has a plan in all this, however painful it is.  I have to continue to believe this.

Gregory.  My sweet baby boy.  I love you so.  I miss you so. 

I love you.  Please pray for your momma.  Please pray for me, Gregory.  I love you.


  1. Michelle, My deepest condonlances to you, your husband, and the rest of your family. My heart and prayers go out to and for you as you mourn the loss of your little boy.

  2. Michelle, this was a wrenchingly beautiful tribute to baby Gregory. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. I am so very, deeply sorry for the loss of Gregory. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face & a lump and burning ache in my throat, I cannot imagine your pain. It must be unbearable. I will be praying for you & your family & asking sweet Gregory's intercession in your lives. I am truly, deeply sorry.

  4. Michelle, this was so beautiful and it was almost like I could feel the hurt, mixed with love come through the screen. I hate miscarriage. It turns something so beautiful (a new life) into something so painful. But at the same time, I rejoice that our little ones are in heaven praying for us. I am praying for you and your family and also asking for little Gregory's intercession. St. Gregory, pray for us!

  5. I hit send too soon...I am so sorry for your loss and for the heartache you are now going through. If you need anything, please let us know.

  6. Oh Michelle. When I saw the title I was hoping I somehow missed something else and it wasn't what I thought it might be. But it was. I am SO very sorry. I will pray for you all, as I don't know what else I can do for you. If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

  8. My darling daughter,
    This is such a beautiful tribute to little Gregory. Having experienced that loss myself, I know the pain. We do not know what God's plans are for us, but his ways are not worldly ways, and sometimes it takes a while to see them. I know your Nana was with you, and gave you strength. I wish I could be there and hold you when you cry, but I know Craig and your children will be there for you. I love you my dear and our heartfelt prayers and those of our church family will be with you.
    Love and prayers,

  9. Michelle - I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you and your family. I will continue to pray for all of you in the days to come.

  10. My prayers are with you and your family. I am so very sorry.

  11. My heart is breaking for you all. Love and prayers. Let us know how we can hell!

  12. It is with so much sadness that I read your post. You are living out my worst nightmare. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. There really are no good words other than I am sorry. I will be saying prayers for you and your family - for healing and for strength. God bless you.

  13. You are so brave for sharing your experience. We are storming the heavens for you and your family. God bless you!

  14. I am so sorry and will be praying for you and your family.

  15. Oh, Michelle. Words just cannot express the loss a mother feels when she is not able to meet her child. Prayers and I will continue to pray for comfort for you and your family.

  16. I am so, so sorry. Crying with you and praying for you and your family.

  17. I had to come see if you had written something - knowing you would have. And what you have written, it is beautiful and honest and loving and Gregory is smiling down on you, praying for you from heaven. I know that doesn't help. I know the only thing that would help is to go back and have none of this be real - to have Gregory still growing inside you. It sucks and it's awful. And yet, you've made it less so, if only a tiny bit, with this beautiful letter to your sweet #6.

    My heart is broken for you my dear sister in Christ. My thoughts and prayers haven't strayed from you for a moment since I heard your voice on my voicemail on Thursday. I just knew something wasn't right. Your words echo in my heart and soul and I hate that you are feeling this pain.

    I am so sorry. So very sorry.

    St. Gregory pray for us. Baby Gregory, pray for us, watch over your momma and daddy and siblings.

  18. I've been thinking about you all weekend Michelle. I will wait to see you back at the work place and give you a proper hug. This was a beautiful read, friend. As is your emotion and honesty. Thank you for always being an example of how to share, no matter the ease or difficulty. Your children will benefit from this attribute more than you know.

  19. Prayers are with you and your family.

  20. This is such a heartbreakingly beautiful letter. My prayers are with you and your family.

  21. Oh Michelle, my heart goes out to you. Please know that I will be praying for you!

  22. Michelle,
    I'm so so very sorry to read this news. My heart is absolutely breaking for you. Please know that my prayers are with you.

    This is pain I would never wish on anyone, and I'm so sorry it has happened to you. I'm just so so sorry. Through all your pain, when your heart is breaking the most, the Lord will hold you, even though you might feel He is far away.
    My deepest sympathies, dear.

  23. Michelle,
    I haven't read your blog in a while, but I stopped by to read today and eventually threaded myself back to this post to understand your last few weeks. I am so sorry for your loss and so in awe of your bravery to post this. My prayers are with you all as you heal from this. All I can help but think is that this year's Lent came with much more sacrifice than anyone should have to give. My heart aches for you.
    Much love,

  24. Michelle, I had no idea!! I had sort of fallen off the blogospere and haven't kept up on my reading. I am so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute written to your Gregory. My heart aches for you and longs to remove the pain. Please know that we will be keeping you and your family in our prayers. Yes, loss.... you never really get over it. You simply learn to live with it. Peace and love to you, Michelle.

  25. I saw your comment at Colleen's today and just came over to "check you out"!!

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I cried through this whole post. I just want you to know you have another person praying for you to have that Grace when needed. Love and blessings sent your way.

    What a testament to life this is. That's the thing about babies--life in general, we love them the moment we find out we are pregnant. Proof that every single life matters.

  26. Michelle, I'm in the NFP group with you on Facebook. I didn't know you had a blog, but a friend linked to it. I also didn't know you lost a son. He died right around the time I was in Omaha seeing Dr. Hilgers, not sure if you shared about it on the NFP group, but I missed it, I guess.

    Anyway, I am so very sorry for your loss. It just sucks, there is really no other way to put it. Your letter to Gregory is beautiful and puts into words so eloquently your deep heartache. We recently miscarried for the 6th time and each time is different but equally heart-wrenching. I was just telling my husband the other day that there is nothing as awful though as the shock that accompanied our first miscarriage.

    In another post you said about going into church with Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament and just sobbing. Absolutely the perfect thing to do. There are so many times at church (particular psalms, readings, petitions, or just the family across the aisle) that I just find myself overcome with sadness for our children that we've lost. What better place to grapple with life and death then in the House of God? Right?

    Take care and know that I will be praying for you and your family.

  27. This is obviously very late, but my deepest condolences to you and your family. Your letter was beautiful, and I am so happy you were able to hold Gregory.


Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)