Seems hard to believe
that after two months there are still people that I know that
don’t know what happened to Brecken. You’re reading this wondering how that is even possible.
Brecken’s story went viral and has been reached by thousands of people. It did not reach, however, to the
very people who live in this complex with us. The closest, physical, people we know and yet, they don’t know what
has been going on with us these last few months.
We aren’t particularly
close to anyone in the remainder three townhouses, so it’s
not like they all had Brecken’s due date circled on their calendars. We also rarely ever
see anyone else and if we do, it’s generally in passing and accompanied by short, quick, half-smiles
and a quiet “Hi”. Torry and I have been out and about many times the last 3 months and I’ve hardly seen
any of the neighbors. The only one I’m close enough to, is our right next door neighbor, Jody. She helped take care
of our dogs the first night I went to the hospital to have Brecken. The last thing she knew, was that someone
else was coming to take over dog watch because we encountered complications and they would need a more
After Brecken had died, running into people that knew
I was pregnant but didn’t know what happened was one of my biggest fears. My chiropractor,
my OB/GYN, the Urologist, the tellers at the bank I frequent etc. were some on that list. They were all
hard to face because all of them (minus the tellers) asked about my new baby and I would just look
at them like they had just stabbed me in the gut, twisted the knife and left me there to die a slow death. The
looks on all of their faces quickly turned to match mine in fear of what I would say next.
Telling someone new about my
baby boy has not gotten any easier. In fact, I feel it’s getting harder.
But one thing I know is that it’s harder when it’s unexpected. It puts those who ask
in an uncomfortable position for asking and my spontaneous tears make my story difficult to tell.
Because of this, I wanted to be ahead of the game with Jody and beat her to the punch of the awkwardness.
I texted her one evening to ask when it would be a good time to go over. She let me know and
we planned on later that night. When she text me to tell me she was home and ready to have me over,
I grabbed the photo album Polka Dot Umbrella Photography made for me so that I could introduce
Brecken to Jody. I sat down on her couch gripping the book. She didn’t ask anything about
Brecken. I started off by picking up where she was left off from our situation.
I began to tell her everything from the birth, to his NICU stay in Milwaukee, his diagnosis, and
our decision to bring him home. When I shakily told her he had died after being home for 9.5 days she instantly
gasped, put her hand up to her mouth and broke out in tears. I was crying myself a little bit as I was telling her.
I then walked over to the couch she was sitting on so she could look at his pictures and ‘meet’ him.
I told her I wanted to tell her about everything before we ended up running into each other and having
her ask about him and getting the awkward feeling after hearing my answer.
Then, a few days ago as I was on my way
out the door to go spend some time with one of my closest friends, Courtney,
the neighbors in unit B were outside at their car. Torry and I suspected something was going on in their
own personal lives as the mom was rarely ever there anymore. This was my first time seeing her since before I gave
birth to Brecken. We said our “Hello’s” and proceeded to have small talk. I hadn’t seen her little boy in a long time
and commented on how big he has gotten. She then asked how our little one was doing. I remained silent for a moment
looking off in a different direction trying to figure out the best, fastest way to tell her (since Courtney was waiting in her
car). I just cut to the chase and told her that he had died. She was instantly sorry
for asking and started making her way over to me asking questions along the way. She asked if he was full term,
still born etc-typical questions. I told her “Yes, he was full term, no he was not still born”-well sort of.
I then proceeded to tell our story in the shortest version possible.
I couldn’t help myself from bursting into tears. There was a sob that interrupted every other
word I tried to get out. My neighbor hugged me and as I started to tell her more about what
happened to Brecken I began to cry even harder on her shoulder. I barely know her, but there was something
comforting about breaking down in her embrace. I stopped telling my story for a few minutes and just
cried. She told me about how she understands not having your first born with you. She didn’t experience
the death of a child, but she gave her first born, a boy, up for adoption when she was 18. I asked her “Why?”
and she said that she wasn’t about to raise a child in the living conditions she was under. She couldn’t financially
support him and made the brave, hard decision to give him up. He may not be dead, but she understands
the pain of not having your baby anymore. It’s gotta be hard knowing that he’s still alive and happy in
someone else’s home other than her own.
I know that over time, there will always someone who doesn’t
know about Brecken. It will probably always be hard to explain why Brecken is no longer with us.
I’m sure it will get a little easier, but the reality of that pain will still be there no matter what. I just can’t
see ever getting over this. I don’t know how a parent in this situation ever could.