Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven, Lucy Rose

On August 17th, we celebrated the five-year anniversary of our sweet Lucy Rose’s birth and death, and as always it was a bittersweet day for us all. We remembered Lucy with stories and pictures, by going to Mass and having a gathering with friends at our home afterwards, and with our traditional carrot cake and all of us singing “Happy Birthday, dear Lucy, happy birthday to you!” after dinner that night. This is an important tradition for all of us, and especially for Christopher (our only child to actually meet Lucy), because it is our way of concretely celebrating Lucy as a very special part of our family. Even Maria, our 3 1/2 year-old, was telling people that it was a “very special day” because it was her “big sister’s birthday with God.” I know that it is all a bit confusing for the kids, but we do the best that we can and we are all in it together as a family.

On a journey filled with many joys and sorrows, the most wonderful part about being Lucy’s mother was, quite simply, having the chance to give birth to her and hold her in my arms. This is a chance that many mothers do not have, and whenever I think of Lucy I thank God for the blessing of those moments. The most difficult part of the journey was kissing her good-bye the next morning and handing her to the nurse, knowing that I would never hold or see her again. When we found out that Lucy had anencephaly at our 20-week ultrasound, we knew that we would have to pack a lifetime of memories into a short time, and that time was very, very sweet.

One of the gifts that Lucy gave me was that she was born with her blue eyes wide open, and they stayed that way for our entire time with her. Although she died only moments after her birth (technically, she was stillborn, but I am quite certain that her lips were moving for about 30 seconds when she was first in my arms), we enjoyed spending many hours just holding and cuddling her. We introduced her to so many family members and close friends, who bought last-minute plane tickets just to meet Lucy and be with us, and we made lots of memories. Those who could not be with us were our army of prayer warriors, and I could tell you many stories of the miracles that their prayers brought about on the day of Lucy’s birth. A wonderful pair of photographers withNow I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to take professional photographs of our family, which have been such a treasure to us throughout the years. Our amazing doula from perinatal hospice, Janet, helped us along every step of the way, and had also been present for the birth of Red’s little girl, Therese Joy, in November of 2002. Although she already knows this, I must say that Red was truly my lifeline in the months leading up to and following Lucy Rose’s birth. I called her with all of my questions and in my times of great sorrow, and she was always willing to courageously listen and offer her support and advice. When God brought Red into my life my freshman year of college, I could never have known that she would be my sister on this journey of losing a child.

By the grace of God, my experience of being Lucy’s mother only drew me closer to Our Lord and His Church. When nothing else seemed to make sense, I would be sitting at Mass just soaking up the words of the Scripture readings, and the songs were like sunshine for my weary soul. When I couldn’t explain to anyone how I was feeling, I would sit and write prayers in my journal and suddenly my emotions would come streaming out from deep within. When I couldn’t pray for myself, I knew with certainty that countless others were lifting me up in prayer. When I felt that the pain of missing my daughter was too much to bear, Mary held my hand and let me know that she understood, that she had been there, too. My suffering was my joy, and my joy was my suffering.

It has been five years since Lucy’s birth, and I still do not find it easy to tell others about her. This is not because I don’t want to talk about Lucy – to the contrary, I love telling people about her and sharing with them about her life. I love hearing other people say her name, and I very much appreciate it when people ask me questions about her. But I am always conscious of how other people will feel when I tell them about Lucy, and I don’t want to make others uncomfortable. Most mothers cry when I tell them that I have a daughter who died at birth, because they are so sad for me and they imagine how sad they would be themselves. Many want to ask questions but don’t know how. Others have recently had a loss themselves, and hearing of my loss just brings up all of those raw emotions for them. I wish that I could talk about Lucy clearly, without my voice quivering and my heart pounding in my chest, and without feeling like my words are so inadequate. I imagine that many people who have lost a loved one prematurely share in my experience, and I think that this awkwardness is all a part of the journey of grief.

This was a much longer post than intended, and there is so much more to say. Thank you for reading, and to so many of you for your prayers and encouragement over the years. God is so good.

Lucy Rose, pray for us!

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  • Anonymous

    It was such an honor to meet Lucy Rose.u00a0 I still remember so many things, but a memory that is really vivid this morning–Christopher wearing his big brother t-shirt and proudly sharing his big sister Lucy with all of us.u00a0 I thank you for sharing her life.u00a0 nnI’m always praying for your family at this time of year.u00a0

  • Lisa

    Thank you for your beautiful post, and sharing Lucy Rose with all of us.

  • Graceinmyheart

    You and Red are such beautiful models of courage and life…thank you for sharing.

  • B-mama

    Kat, this is such a beautiful post about a beautiful little girl born into a beautiful, faith-filled family. u00a0Your sweet Lucy Rose will always be dearly remembered in our home. u00a0I can recall GG taking off for Chicago the day T was born and feeling anguish that I couldn’t be there with you too. u00a0What a testament of faith, love, and strength you and Red are to all of us. u00a0Lucy Rose, pray for us, indeed!!

  • What a beautiful post and testimony to your daughter. Would that every life, no matter how long or short,u00a0could be welcomed and remembered with such love. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Jurismater

    Kat, what a beautiful post. Thank you. Thank you for letting us share in Lucy’s life and death and your love for her. So many of our lives are very different because of the blessing of your mother-daughter relationship. Knowing you is such a gift.

  • Anonymous

    Kat, I’m not sure why, but your picture isn’t coming through.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Red ~nIs it possibly just taking a while to load, or is it not showing up at all? This is one of the photos from the photographers, so it is a bigger file and a different format. I can always post a personal picture instead…nAnyone else having trouble viewing the picture?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you everyone for your comments! Christopher just said this morning, on his first day of 2nd grade, “Mommy, Lucy would be going into Kindergarten this year!”u00a0

  • Lisa

    Hi Kat, I haven’t been able to see it either.u00a0 If you’re able to re-post it, that would be great.u00a0 God bless you and your family this evening.

  • KFD

    Kat, that picture is absolutely beautiful.u00a0 I am most struck by your son gazing at his baby sister.u00a0 Thank you for sharing this.u00a0 I lost a baby boy in the second trimester earlier this year, and there is such sadness to lose a precious baby and the hopes and dreams that you have for that little life.u00a0 It is wonderful to hear that Lucy Rose still has such a place within your family and that your other children know about and love their sister.u00a0

  • Anonymous

    Dear KFD, I am so sorry for the loss of your precious baby boy, that must have been very difficult. Yes, a baby’s presence is very much missed in the family. I remember being panicked that my son would never have a sibling on earth to play with, share with, etc. But I knew that God had a plan greater than mine, and that brought me peace.u00a0nIt is amazing to know that one member of our family is already in heaven, in the eternal presence of Jesus, where we all hope to be some day!u00a0

  • Red

    I still can’t see the photo ;-( u00a0I tried different computers, different browsers, but it doesn’t work.

  • Anonymous

    The issue is that the only personal photos that I have of Lucy are on Snapfish, which isn’t cooperating at the moment. Our home computer was stolen (when our house was broken into) a couple of months after Lucy’s birth, and with it went all of the pictures on that computer. Thank goodness that Lucy’s pictures were already online, that we had some hard copies, and that we had the professional photos! So, unfortunately I can’t post any other photos right now, but hopefully at least some people can see this one.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for sharing your story about Lucy Rose. I am very sorry for your loss and the all the losses people were generous enough to share here. Such stories of courage and faith help keep things in perspective for all of us. nnI will remember your family and Lucy in prayer.

  • Kj_marshill

    Kat–I love your picture. Thanks for sharing it.nnWe just passed the 3rd anniversary of our daughter’s death and it was much different than in years past. I didn’t have the energy to look through all her things/videos, etc,. At first I felt a bit guilty that I wasn’t giving her more of my time and energy, and then that burden was lifted: I knew that God remembered Vivian, even when she is not the constant thought in my mind. That was very comforting to realize that nothing depends on my remembering her; our Lord never forgets his children. nnJust wanted to share that random thought.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Kj ~ I’m so sorry for the loss of your Vivian. I think that anniversaries are so interesting – every year has been a bit different for me. I remember last year (4 years) feeling very similarly to you – I just didn’t have the emotional energy to watch the video, look at all of the pictures, etc. This year, I felt almost panicked that somehow I had misplaced the pictures, videos, and clothes/blankets that I have saved from the time surrounding LUcy’s birth. So, I did spend more time looking through all of these, and this brought me peace and also allowed me some time to remember and reflect more. Each year is different, but you are so right, Our Lord will always remember His children and that is such a comfort.

  • Dedra Birzer

    A friend posted your blog on Facebook.u00a0 I have my own Rose in heaven, Cecilia Rose, whose 4th birthday in heaven we just celebrated on August 8.u00a0 Our Cecilia (our 5th child of 7) was stillborn 2 days after her due date after a perfect, healthy pregnancy.u00a0 She got entangled in her cord and we did not know she was gone until the nurses at the hospital could not find a heartbeat.u00a0 Your blog echoes so many of the experiences I’ve had over the past four years.u00a0 Blessings to you and your family.nLucy Rose and Cecilia Rose, pray for us.

  • JMB

    I don’t know what to say other than thank you for this beautiful post and you and Right Red are truly a testament to the Catholic faith.u00a0 God bless you and your family.

  • Kathy

    Kat , nnI wanted to say that I was particularly pleased/impressed/touched by the way you celebrated Lucy’s birth and death. Going to Mass, visiting with her, having a birthday celebration – especially so her siblings who did not meet heru00a0have a chance to share in who Lucy is. nnI am a big celebrator of birthdays – so I could see where this can be such a great vehicle in the on going grief process. nnWe have Masses said for our daughters on their birthdays and for us on our wedding anniversary (the birthday of our family). Our girls love hearing their name announced and getting to bring up the gifts. It is a special part of our celebrations. nnThank you again for sharing.

  • Jen’s sister Amy

    Red, I was able to see the picture when I clicked on the broken link. Kay, what a beautiful photo – we didn’t find out that my daughter would be stillborn until I arrived at the hospital in labor, so there was no time to arrange for a photographer (and the hospital, which was wonderful, didn’t know about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep). I’ve always mourned that I have no “nice” photo of Francesca and me, aside from the ones in my heart. God Bless Lucy Rose.

  • Lisa

    Oh Kat, I am able to see the picture now, and it is so striking.u00a0 Such a beautiful family portrait.u00a0 Thank you so much for sharing.u00a0 nnRed – I was using Firefox, to no avail – but on Safari it comes through (just slowly . . .).u00a0 If you’re using a mac, you might try Safari . . .nnKat, God bless you and your family this week.u00a0 I am so appreciative of your willingness to share your Lucy Rose with us.

  • Red

    Yeah, I tried safari and it worked. u00a0Beautiful photo!!!!!!!

  • Maggie

    I just came across this wonderful post.u00a0 I lost my Anna Perpetua to anencephaly an hour and a half after her birth, 11 1/2 years ago.u00a0 Her identical twin sister, Mary Theressa is alive and well, though everyone told me she would probably die and if not, she’d certainly have serious “defects”.u00a0 Everyone was wrong.u00a0 nnI won’t tell you that the birth/feast day gets much easier (so far), but I will tell you that while words often ARE inadequate, prayers never are.u00a0 My Anna is up there in the bosoms of God and His Mother for a reason.u00a0 As other tragedies have befallen me (and still are, even today), my little girl is right there, begging Our Lord to helpu00a0her mamma and sisters every day.u00a0 nnRemember that our girls are in Heaven, perpetually beholding the most perfect Example of a Child’s honor to His Mother.u00a0 They follow that Example for us, their mammas.u00a0 Sts. Anna Perpetua and Lucy Rose, pray for us!nnMaggie ElliottnnPSu00a0 Were you able to baptize Lucy right away?u00a0 Trust your belief that she was alive for a while, no matter what the “technical call” was. u00a0I was fortunately able to have my priest in the OR with me, and he baptized both the babies before anything else was allowed to proceed.u00a0 That’s been a tremendous comfort.