In my twenties, when I thought about having children, I assumed I would meet someone, get married, and life would move forward from there. Of course, life doesn’t always happen the way we plan.
When I hadn’t found the “right” person by age 30, I realized I needed to make a choice — I could either keep looking for a partner and gamble on decreasing fertility and increasing odds of birth defects as I aged, or I could focus on what I decided was more important to me — having a child. I chose to become a Single Mother by Choice.
I never thought being a single mother would be easy, but odds weighed, it was the right decision for me. Planning took some time, and there were a few hiccups, but everything mostly came together easily. In October of 2016, literally on the day my sister and I had scheduled to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I found out I was pregnant on my very first try.
My pregnancy wasn’t “easy,” but it was fairly textbook. I planned for a midwife-assisted natural birth, but continued seeing a more traditional hospital-based practice in case of emergency. I attended classes and read all the books. I thought I was prepared for everything.
On 29 June, 2017, during a routine medical appointment on the morning of my 41st week of pregnancy, I was informed my son had no heartbeat. I had experienced minor symptoms including headache, nausea, and swelling, and he had been moving less than usual the previous week, but none of my providers had been concerned. Despite concurrent care, participation in a home nurse education program, and 50+ hours spent reading books and attending childbirth classes, I was blindsided. I had no idea babies died.
I went into labor with my son that same evening, and delivered him the following day. I had wanted his sex to be a surprise, and so I didn’t know until his birth that “he” was a he. I named him Adrian.
The hospital arranged for a photographer, and she took 67 of the most beautiful photos. Adrian was so recently dead; he looked like he was only sleeping.
I spent the next year of my life in a fog. Instead of monthly photos, blowout diapers, and breastfeeding, I dealt with milk donation, missed milestones, and grief-induced stupidity. Human interaction became incredibly difficult. Some people said insensitive and stupid things, and some disappeared entirely. When I went back to work after only 7 weeks, my greatest fear was divided between crying if someone asked about my son, and crying if they didn’t. And through it all, I continued to experience all the normal aspects of being postpartum. I was a mother without a living child.
One of the few things I am grateful for is that I wrote to my son throughout our pregnancy. I wrote to him in excitement; I wrote to him in love. And after he died, I kept writing. About three months after his death, I thought about sharing these letters in some public way. I was nervous, but I wondered if this might be a method to share important information with the world. Because it’s an important and misunderstood aspect of nature that babies die, and mothers grieve. And grief is both natural, and permanent.
It has been three years now since Adrian died, and there are now 139 letters. I have shared them all on a website I created to honor his memory. I have also begun writing about stillbirth, and sharing information about warning signs and symptoms; things that, if I had been informed, would have saved my son. This is how I honor his memory. This is how I mother him. This is how I spread a piece of his light into the world.
Modified from a post previously published on https://adrianjameshernandez.com/mirandas-story/