We Still Could

When I was pregnant with triplets my husband affectionately called me “Big Mama” a term of endearment in his mind… his nice way of saying I’m not really sure what to make of the complete loss of your figure so let’s just laugh about it, in mine.

Soon after the birth of our triplets and the loss of my “Big Mama” status and the shattering days that followed, my eldest daughter came to visit us in the hospital.  She was coming to see her brother and her two sisters because, after all, that is what her mom had given birth to, the siblings who should be waiting for her when she arrived.

We decided that I should tell her.

I tried to sit as tall as my fresh c-section scar would allow so as to absorb the weight of her pain, the looming conversation so unbelievably wrong.

As much as I did not want to talk, as much as I wanted to crumble into a useless heap of grief in my hospital bed, in that same way that a mother is never allowed to call off sick, I was unable to call off devastated.

I was at the center of my worst nightmare.  I didn’t remember this chapter in my book on expecting multiples, if it was there I flipped passed it of course, because that would never happen to me.

I told my sweet daughter, through choked back tears and blood shot eyes, that when we made our trip down to the NICU, there would be one less sister there waiting for her.

When I explained the unexplainable to the best of my abilities and my impending tears began, I held her as much as she would let me while reality filled her heart, trying to weather her pain in any way I could.

Twelve year-olds should not know that babies die.

Somehow, this awful conversation, this shared pain and unimagined grief, united my husband and his step-daughter in a new way.  He recognized a fragment of our loss mirrored in this adolescent piece of his family and reached out to her.  The misery of conversation slowly came to an end and, as he helped us both out the hospital room door, my husband gestured for my hand, looked at me as if my tear-stained face and deflated body were an attractive new style and, in as suave of a voice as he could muster, raised an eyebrow,

“What’s your name?” he asked.

I squeezed his strong hand and held my fragile daughter’s.

“They call me Big Mama.” I answered, my lips testing out a smile.

And the three of us laughed together, through voices raw with pain,

because she needed to know we still could.

mom and daughter laughing

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  1. says

    I’m having a much harder time composing a well-crafted response to this post because I’m covered in goosebumps and deeply affected by this story. It’s simply beautiful, as is the relationship you have with your hubby. I can’t imagine having to deliver this kind of news to a 12-year-old but you are most definitely one of the strongest women I have had the pleaure to get to know via blogging and it’s evident every time I read your words.

    Thank you for sharing this incredibly moving story with us. *HUGS*

  2. says

    I’m crying and laughing from the end – it’s beautiful. I love it. And I’m truly saddened that you had to go through such a loss.

    • Jessica says

      Sorry for all of the emotions. I tend to \”ugly cry\” when I\’m laughing and crying all at the same time ;). Thanks for taking the time to read.

  3. says

    Oh Jessica, I cannot even begin to imagine first off, your loss, and then having to go through it all over again while shattering a little piece of innocence in your daughter. Like you said, 12 year olds should not know that babies die, heck, I don’t even think adults should have to. One of my dear friends lost her daughter a few months ago and it has been so hard watching her go through this.

  4. says

    Somehow I missed this the first time. I’m choked up now (but at least I knew I would be!) I’m so glad you found #TRDC. It’s been an outlet for me as well. I have a difficult story I want to share that I may disguise as fiction. Not sure I’m ready yet. But the fact that I’m even able to consider it? Completely due to that supportive group.

  5. says

    The writers at TRDC are the best. Cheerleaders, editors, instigators, trampolines. I’m so glad you joined :)

  6. says

    I can’t believe I missed this one the first time around. You are absolutely right, teaching resilience is the greatest lesson a parent can offer. Sadly, that means there must be heartache. I’m so very, very sorry for yours.

  7. says

    These Red Dress Club prompts are not always my favorite posts to read. People sometimes get lost in the prompt and allow it to control the direction of the story that is told. I read a lot of these posts, and my favorites are ALWAYS when the writer has a story to tell that does not require the prompt. The writer has a story to tell and the prompt is incidental . . . the prompt serves the story, but is not the star of the show.

    Posts like this one are my favorites. Your story.

    What an unbelievably powerful story.

    You come to read me, so I know that you know what I think of the healing magic of laughter in a time of crisis and pain. How I love that you and your husband laughed to show your daughter that you still could.

    How I love that.

    So much love to you, Jessica.

    • says

      This comment just made my Friday morning, thank you for spending time with

      my words and my daughter's memory. Thank you.

      —–Original message—–

  8. says

    Oh my this was so poignant. Heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. So well written, it pulls the reader in and they don't want to quit to the very last punctuation mark. Wow. What is your daughter's name? The one who moved to heaven early? Visiting from SITS

  9. says

    Jessica, this took my breath away. My 12 year-old daughter sits on the couch next to me right now, so sweet and so innocent. If I had to tell her this news, her whole life would change.
    As did yours.
    Such a touching turn to this prompt. You really made it your own.

  10. Heather says

    I've never heard you talk about this moment before. My heart is full as I remember those early days–the joy and the heartache.

  11. says

    Oh this just breaks my heart. I teared up reading about 12 year olds shouldn't know that babies die. They shouldn't. No one should have to know that babies die because they shouldn't. Beautifully written. I love the joke. It's nice to be able to laugh a little even in pain.

  12. Cheryl says

    I'm having a tough time commenting, because the part about your husband, there at the end…I'm still teary. What a beautiful gift laughter is. I am so, so sad you had to go through this, that your not-quite-a-teenaged daughter had to learn about certain truths so young. But I am so glad she has you, my wonderful, beautiful friend.

  13. says

    I cannot fathom such a conversation, and I'm thankful for it. And I am a puddle of melty hopeless romantic at the thought of your husband summoning the strength to tease a little, to give you all the gift of laughter in that moment. That is love.

  14. says

    OH! This was incredible. What a strong, amazing woman you are. I can't even imagine the pain, let alone having to explain it to a child. While I like absolutely nothing about this situation, the image of the three of you walking together laughing is beautiful. Because life does go on. And your family had to.

  15. says

    I lost it when I read this line, "Twelve year-olds should not know that babies die."
    No. They shouldn't know.
    And neither should you.
    Much love to you.
    Beautiful piece, my lovely and strong friend.

  16. Jessica Anne says

    Oh, wow. What a terrible thing to have to do. So well told. My heart is breaking for all of you.

  17. MyLittleMiracles says

    How awful! You are so brave! And your daughter is brave! But your story is so heartwarming!

  18. Anonymous says

    This was one of the most gut wrenching posts I've read. It was so beautifully crafted. My favorite line:

    "He recognized a fragment of our loss mirrored in this adolescent piece of his family and reached out to her."

    It made my throat close up and my eyes burn. I just wanted to reach through the screen, into your words and hug the little family in that hospital room. I wished so badly for it to be fiction. *hugs*

  19. says

    My favorite part: he "looked at me as if my tear-stained face and deflated body were an attractive new style…"
    Beautiful. Your children are blessed to have such strong, loving parents.

  20. Taming Insanity says

    Oh, Jessica. You are such an incredibly wonderful mother.

    I smell BlogHer on this too.

    • says

      Thanks Elena, I knew what I was going to write about as soon as the prompt

      came out, much different from last week.

      —–Original message—–

  21. says

    Oh my word. That is a love story. There are so many layers to this, and yet, kindness wins.

    I always treasure when my husband called me beautiful, when I too, was post-partum, NICU-stained, and terrified.