Monday, November 18, 2013

A Letter to my Son

Today is World prematurity day 2013~

I share with you a letter I wrote to my son the day before his would be~ should be 3rd birthday. The sentiment and words are the same.....time has passed~ but the ache in the part of my heart forever broken he would be 6 and a half~ his baby sister ~his legacy really~ is 5 now~ and she remains a constant blessing and beacon of hope after the most devastating days of my life....
Please read and share,



A Letter to my Son

May 28, 2010 at 12:23pm
In memory of William Robert Erich Petsch

Dearest baby William,

I remember well the dark night in May when I awoke and immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. The gush of fluid, the familiar contractions… I prayed “no it can’t be Lord…please…it can’t be”. I woke daddy and we raced to the hospital. I remember saying to him during that car ride “you know this will probably not end well”. For two days we held out hope. Doctors and nurses came and went…all with the same message “it’s too early; your son will not live”. Only when mommy got very sick and things went from bad to worse did we agree to give up hope.

On a sunny Tuesday morning my labor in full swing, I was so very very angry. I kept asking WHY, why is this happening to me, to our son….after all that we have been through….WHY would he be taken away from us? After six grueling hours you were born, tiny, living and perfect. You looked exactly like your brother. Mommy held you; Daddy held you, your brother, sisters and Aunts came. For exactly 1 hour and 47 minutes you lived. We took turns holding you and each other ~ we cried a river of tears. That crowded hospital room was filled with a lifetime of love and a profound sadness that we would not be able to watch you grow into a man. Daddy was holding you when your tiny heart, through transparent skin, stopped beating forever. The midwife pronounced that you were at peace.

The next day~ I left the hospital with pictures, your footprints, your tiny hat, the blanket in which you were wrapped and a broken heart. How could they expect me to go to the funeral home? How could I possibly focus on the details of your funeral? How does a mother choose a resting place for her son or what clothes she will wear to his funeral? How could I take a maternity leave with no baby to care for? I cannot recall a time in my whole life when I was more profoundly devastated. I cried, I screamed, I ached to hold you and see you one more time. My heart honestly felt like it was breaking. The physical and emotional pain was almost too much to bear. There were days when I was certain that I would not survive. I was angry that the world seemed to just go on ~completely unaffected. And I wondered how everyone else could be the SAME when I was so DIFFERENT. The days and weeks passed in a blur of devastation.

Daddy and I decided that we would try again. We had so much love to give, we desperately wanted another child. The first try didn’t work and with the pain still fresh and raw I fell apart again. Months later, we tried for what we both knew would be the last time. I felt a genuine happiness when I found out that it had worked and I was once again ~ pregnant. The happiness was almost immediately replaced with sheer terror. After a difficult first trimester~ the second trimester brought fear that something was wrong. An amniocentesis confirmed that I was carrying a healthy baby girl. Once again I grieved for you. I had pictured my life for so long with 2 baby sons…I did not know how to come to grips with the fact that my dream of two sons died with you.

On a normal evening in late March my water broke. All of the memories flooded back. NO IT’S too EARLY. IT CAN’T BE HAPPENING AGAIN. To the hospital we went. They transferred us to Pittsburgh. The doctors and nurses there came with the same message “there is nothing we can do, your child will not survive”. Daddy and I were devastated. We cried, I screamed, I prayed “God what lesson is it that I did not learn losing William that You think I need to learn by losing another baby”. “How can I possibly lose another child?” The answer that I received there~ in the quiet of the hospital room~ was “you don’t have to”. From that moment on~ I knew I would fight with my whole life to save your sister. She was 4 weeks from “viability”~~ 4 long weeks before they would even consider trying to save her. Again they told us it was hopeless. Over and over nurses and doctors would come and tell us all of the terrible things that could and probably would happen even if she somehow miraculously survived. I was hearing NONE of it. Daddy says I was demanding…I like to think of it as being assertive:) We came back to Erie, a few days later I was admitted again to the hospital. For 4 seemingly endless weeks I stayed in the hospital on bed rest. The doctors and nurses continued with the gloom and doom prognosis. But my heart and mind were strengthened with an unexplainable peace and fortitude. Exactly four weeks to the day after my water broke…your sister made her dramatic entrance into the world. The first thing that Daddy said to me was “she is so much bigger than William”. At a whopping 1 pound 6 ounces and 11 and ¾ inches long she was! For 97 days we rode the NICU rollercoaster. Many times during those days we were told about all of the terrible things that she might face: deafness, blindness, brain damage on and on the list went. I visited her every day. I prayed to God and to you “please watch over her and keep her safe”. I cannot explain HOW I knew that she would be healthy…I just did. I knew that her path was destined to be different than yours. The path was difficult, the obstacles many. Throughout the journey I knew in my heart that she was going to be ok. Today your sister Faith is a walking, talking two year old miracle child. She is small but mighty. She is full of spirit and headstrong. She is here and alive because you gave me the strength to fight for her.

It will be three years tomorrow since you were born. I think of you every single day. Daddy and I both wear your footprints permanently…because no matter what~ you are ALWAYS walking with us. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if you had survived. I am not at the point where I can say that I understand why you had to go to heaven. But I do know that you had a lasting and profound effect on me and on everyone who loves you. I am different because I am your mother. I am stronger than I ever thought possible. We will celebrate your birthday with a cake and a song. We will reflect on how your life and death changed us. We will cry that you are not with us. We will be more grateful for what we have because of what we have lost. You will always be a special part of our family. When people ask me how many children I have~ I proudly say 5~ one lives in heaven.

I love you and I miss you every day. Thank you for being my son.



  1. All the hugs in the world aren't enough. I don't even have adequate words. So much of what you write, the things you explain you felt, I've been there, I've felt it all.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Starr,
      Thank you for your kind words. I once felt that the devastation of losing William was the most isolating thing in the world. Yet on this journey I have met some of the most amazing women and men. Sharing his story~ OUR stories~ has been a profoundly healing thing.
      I am sorry you have to be on this journey too~ but I am honored to walk the road with you.
      love and light,

  2. Wow. What a heart wrenching journey you have had and what a little miracle your daughter is. I am glad you have found strength through your loss. Bless you, mama.

    1. Thank you Stacey. I so appreciate your reading and commenting. Thank you for sharing the journey.