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Letter to Spencer

by Lynda Waddington

Update January 11, 1999

Update February 18, 1999

Date: Thu, 01 Oct 1998

I'm writing this to you for possible inclusion on your first person page... I have written it as if it was a letter directly to my son Spencer Lee Waddington which was stillborn Sept. 13, 1998.

My dearest Spencer,

You know, I still can't believe you have left me. I keep expecting to wake up one morning and find out this has all been some type of horrible nightmare or some momentarily lapse of reason. Still, I get up every morning and try to put on a face for the world, a shield against those who still haven't heard or aren't aware of how deep the wound runs.

I hope you know how much you are loved and were wanted as a part of our lives. We were only a week away from the due date when you were taken, a fact which hurts so very much. I know you never saw them, but friends had left lovely presents at the house for you. There were the most soft blankets and sleepers that I have ever held. Although we opened the gifts, I saved every card and piece of packaging so that I could show them to you.

Normally I am a bargain shopper, but we purchased a new crib, mattress and comforter set for you. No, we really couldn't afford it, but your dad felt you should have something brand new, something of equal quality to your new life. How could I say no when he put it that way? All of us worked to put the crib together, even your big sister was able to hold the screws and bolts until they were needed. We didn't begrudge the money, only felt excitement and love for you. After the crib was together and new sheets perfectly placed, we stood around it and grinned at each other like crazed town idiots. We spoke about you often - dreaming of what color hair and eyes you would have, if you would be a musician like your father, or if you would be more of a football nut like me.

Perhaps you have been wondering (just like I have been wondering) what happened, what took your life? I can give you a technical answer. The doctor called it a rupture, when the placenta separates from the uterus. Other than that, we don't know why it happened. The doctors say there was no reason for it to happen - that we had done everything right.

Let me tell you about the days before. On Thursday and Friday I spent time at garage sales while your sister was at school. I was looking for you a changing table. I finally found one and brought it home, but it was the wrong color. I made a trip to the local hardware store and bought some paint (don't worry, I made sure there was no lead in it). It was wicker and very lightweight so I took it apart and began to paint it. It took longer for me to figure out your father's spray gun than it did to actual complete the painting. Once it was dry, I put it all back together and moved it into your room by the crib. It matched very well. I had wanted to find a rocking chair, but still hadn't found one for us to use.

On Saturday, we all went to a local festival. There was music, food and friends. So many people hugged us and we could tell just by looking in their eyes that they were as excited about you as we were. Many commented on how large I was getting with you inside of me. A couple even felt you kick against their hand. Speaking of kicking, I have often wondered what you found so tranquil in your father's touch. When you would be kicking me like crazy, he only needed to place his hand near you and you would calm down. Perhaps one day we will be able to speak about it?

After the festival, we came home and your Grandma took your sister Jocelyn out to the movies. Dad and I went out for a very rare peaceful dinner and came back home. Grandma didn't stay long when she brought Jocelyn home and soon it was bedtime. I read Jocelyn a story and we talked about you and about delivery. She was worried about me, you know, how much it would hurt me. But we finally agreed that you were worth any pain. When she was asleep I hopped in the bathtub and soaked. The water evidentially felt good to both of us because you rolled and kicked as if you enjoyed it. When I finally headed to bed about 11 p.m. that night, you rocked me to sleep with your gentle prodding in my rib cage. I had no idea that would be the last time I would feel you inside me.

At 2 a.m. I woke and felt a lot of pressure, like I needed to go to the bathroom really badly. I did get up and walked to the bathroom. When I sat on the toilet, the room began to spin and I began to sweat like crazy. I knew I had to get to your dad, but I was afraid to walk through the house. I ended up crawling back through the house to the bedroom. Your dad James called the hospital and they told us to come in. We woke up Jocelyn and called Grandma to meet us there. By the time we arrived, I was feeling very badly. The pain was almost more than I could physically bear. I was changed into a gown and placed in the bed while the nurse searched for your heartbeat. She couldn't find one, but I wasn't worried. You had been kicking me just a few hours ago. You were only a week away from your due date. I figured that they could fix anything that went wrong. Once the doctors began to come into the room, an ultrasound magically appeared. That confirmed what the nurses had been thinking - you had no heartbeat.

I don't know exactly when you died that night, Spencer. Again, maybe you can talk to me someday and tell me what you remember. I do want you to know how very sorry I am that I slept through it. The doctors tell me that there are no nerve endings associated with the placenta and that I could not have known, but I will always feel some guilt that I wasn't there for you.

I gave birth to you that morning just after 6 a.m. There was a great deal of blood and everyone who was there tells me how lucky I am to be alive today. I hope you know that I would have gladly traded places with you if I could have. When the rupture happened, all of my blood rushed to you trying to clot the separation. I guess it wasn't enough. I had four IVs in me, all giving me plasma or blood during labor. When it came time to push, I pulled them out. I could think of nothing but you and how your death should be my own. But your dad was there. He was speaking so softly in my ear, telling me how much he and Jocelyn needed me and wanted me. I couldn't leave them, not even for you. So, we finished pushing and you were born, but your eyes never opened and I never heard you cry. The IVs were put back in my hands and arms - you were taken to be cleaned up. They let us hold you and you were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Your hair was auburn, just like mine. And your feet were very large, just like your dad's.

You know, we probably couldn't have given you the moon because we aren't wealthy people, but we could have given you so much love that you would have never missed the material things. We are still trying to come to terms with why you left us. I wish there were some answers, but I can't find any. I'm sure you know how we all three cry for you and miss you. At that same time you must also know how we celebrate the joy you brought into our family. We have never been so much in love in our lives as we were when you came to be a part of our lives. We don't take things for granted anymore, Spencer. You are the reason for that.

I packed your room away the day before the funeral. I'm sorry you never got to enjoy it. We know that someday we will probably bring all of your things back up from the basement, probably someday when we welcome a new life into our family. We also know that no one will ever take your place in our hearts or memories.

More than anything I would just like to feel the peace inside of me that will come from knowing you forgive me. I really tried to be a good mother to you. I apologize if there was anything I did to cause this. I only wanted to hold you, love you and watch you grow. Now that I know I will never hold you in this life again or watch you grow, I also know that I will never stop loving you.

At the funeral, your dad played "Tears In Heaven" for you. And, to steal a line from the song, I want to know if you will hold my hand when I see you in heaven?

Lynda Waddington
lynda@community.marion.ia.us

Update January 11, 1999

Today is Jan. 11 and I just found out that we are pregnant again. I'm not sure how I feel yet; it is like being on a roller coaster. There is a great deal of fear and also a revisitation with the circumstances of Spencer's death. Perhaps the hardest part to deal with is the due date - exactly the same as Spencer's. In a way, everything feels like deja vu.

For those of you that pray, please include us. It is going to take a lot of courage and personal strength for us to make it through the next 8 months.

Update February 18, 1999

I went to the doctor today for my first official OB appointment. An ultrasound revealed that our new little one no longer had a heartbeat. He or she should have been about 10 weeks along, but had stopped developing at about 8 weeks.

Right now I'm still pretty numb - "this can't be happening to me." I wanted to get this written before reality really set in and I lost all focus. I want to thank everyone for the prayers and love which has been sent our way. I can't describe how much it has meant to me and to my family. I hope we all find the occasion to be together in times of happiness as well as sadness.  

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