Thursday, June 23, 2011

I hang pictures of my dead baby in my home... am I crazy?




My name is Ashley and I live for my Nolan. Nolan has made me who I am today, he gave me back my faith, taught to believe and most certainly built hope.
Nolan is our son.
Our first born.
A fighter.

He was a miracle that was not suppose to be. And to this day I am reminded every single morning when I wake up that he is not here but his fight is not forgotten. 2 years later I sit amoungst grief that has changed, it has morphed into a different feeling that is so ha
rd to explain.

I have and always will fight to keep his memory alive. To a mother who knew her son for 3 days, it's all I have, it's all I have to fall back on. Those memories fade quickly, and all I have is this blog and pictures to look back on. So I take those pictures and I hold them so near and dear to my heart. I know those pictures are not ideal to some, they aren't the typical newborn pictures. A photoshoot full of cute hats, perfect newborn poses and sleepy grins. Our pictures tell a story of triumph they are taken by proud parents who were over joyed that our son had a heartbeat, that
he was fighting and that we had hope. Our pictures are all we have of Nolan. Yes I know they were taken while he was in very critical condition fighting for every minute. I am fully aware he has tubes, wires, lights and equipment surrounding him. But for those 3 days of his life, it's what we know of him. It's how we remember him and those little extras don't unvalidate his little life at all. Those wires and tubes and lights don't unjustisfy him being our son.

Recently, for the first time in 2 years I was met with question about his pictures. Should I be on that show Taboo because I hang pictures of our dead baby on our walls in our own home? Are people coming into our home bothered by his pictures? Am I just delusional and crazy for
wanting to hang his picture along side of his little brothers? Should I forget about him because we had another baby?


What am I suppose to do? I really don't know why I am even sitting here typing out these questions. Why should it matter? I know the answer but for whatever reason having someone suggest me taking down his picture when they come over broke me down. It made me feel like my son was nothing. He was just a baby that died that pictures were sad to look at.

2 years later, it's amazing what can trigger grief like it happened yesterday.

But then I remember what others saw those 3 days he were alive...
This was a comment left on my blog a few weeks ago....

Ashley, I found the link to your blog on the note you left next to the cupcakes. Thank you for those- I'm pretty sure they are already almost gone! I took care of Nolan in the NICU and I remember him and you very much. I remember exactly where his isolette was in the corner of room 4. I remember how determined he was and how proud you were to be the mother of such an amazing little fighter. What I remember most is that Nolan was surrounded by people who smiled. Even at the hardest parts of his little life, there were smiles through the tears. You could just feel it in the air-everyone hoping and praying for and loving him. It seems that his life is celebrated now just as it was when he was born. Happy
birthday,Nolan. God bless you and your family...
Ellen, RN

This nurse saw what we remember, what I fight to share to this day and justifies why one day CC will know he's a little brother.

Nolan is our first born, tubes and wires don't change that. That's how we knew Nolan, I don't want to remember the bad, I want to preserve the good.

But from day one, to two years later and 40 years down the road.... I will fight to keep Nolan's memory alive because he was a true miracle that made us parents.

I love you Nolan. Tubes, wires, and all.




42 comments:

Lauren said...

What a beautiful tribute to your first born son, Nolan. I love what Ellen wrote about all the smiles surrounding Nolan even during the hardest moments. He is so loved.

Stephanie said...

It's not strange, weird, or crazy. You are Nolan's mom, and you always will be. Don't ever let other people tell you how you should grieve or preserve his memory. You have to do whatever makes you feel like he is being remembered well. He absolutely deserves a place of honor in your home beside pictures of CC, because he is a part of your family.

Ashley said...

You keep those pictures up. I look at them all the time on here. He is such a cute baby tubes and all. I would not trade it for anything. I look forward to reading your blog and looking at the pictures. He is a part of your life and nothing will ever change that!!!!!!

Maribeth said...

My beautiful daughter died at the age of six years old. I was lucky to have her longer than you had Nolan, but the pain of her loss is the same.
The first few years I kept her picture out for all to see. She was my baby. I was not willing to ever "forget" her.
As time passed, I realized that I needed to arrange her pictures in an area or two where I could enjoy them each day, but where other people would not feel uncomfortable. (Some people do not understand) So I have pictures in my bedroom and my office. My places. I also have a painting of my two daughters together that hangs in my family room.
If people ask, I tell them the truth. Yes, Katie was my youngest, and she died when she was 6.
I celebrate her birthday with remembrances, and I honor her on the day that a drunk driver took her life.
No it is not weird, or strange or anything else, that you keep Nolan's memory alive. He was, is and always will be, your baby!
Hugs!

K said...

I can't believe someone would come into your home and suggest such a thing... how rude, thoughtless, and downright stupid. You must have been speechless at such a suggestion. Lots of people have pictures of grandparents or parents who are gone, up in their homes... why not their child? The child is every bit as much a member of the family as anyone else.

Krystle said...

I can't believe someone asked you that, it just boggles my mind. Will they throw away pictures of their parents when they are gone?
I mean come on, just because he was itty bitty doesn't mean he wasn't (AND IS!) VERY real.
I'm sorry someone said that to you Ashley, FWIW, it would not make me uncomfortable, I would want to oogle over his perfectly tiny body everytime I saw the pictures.

krousehouse said...

People are rude. Everyone handles things their own way - I don't keep the photos out, but I have them and look at them privately when I want too. But that doesn't make your way crazy - and I can't believe someone suggested you take them down. If they are uncomfortable, it's their problem.

Kourtney said...

Gosh how rude and bold was someone to come in YOUR house and tell you to take down pictures of your son. Nolan being only 3 days old is no different than me having a picture of my grandma in the house that died when she was 72. Don't feel like you have to justify your feelings or reasoning for anyone - he was and still is your son and you have the right to have his pictures around you to remember him by. I enjoy reading your blog and have been following it for over 2 years...I had my son just a few days after you had Nolan and when I was in the hospital a friend came to see me and told me your sad news as we both read your blog. Stay strong - you are a great person and I know its hard!

LauraJane said...

You have every right to have photos of your sweet Nolan and proudly display them as such.

If people are close enough to be coming into your home, they should be able to recognize you and your family for what it is: you + your hubs + Nolan + CC.

I don't really worry too much about making people uncomfortable in our space. But I totally see what you mean- you don't want people to see photos of Nolan and think of him as anything less than the perfect little boy he was- wires and all.

Ps. that RN's comment is the sweetest thing. :0

Kaitlyn said...

Dont EVER feel like you shouldnt show off your son. He is beautiful, and everything about him is perfect. I'm in shock that someone would come into your home and say something like that. I'm so sorry you had to hear that. HUGS Nolan is loved tubes wires and all

Clare said...

No Ashley, you aren't crazy. You are a mother who loves BOTH her sons equally and as such should be able to display their photos however YOU want.

I second what Krousehouse said 'If they are uncomfortable, it's their problem' not yours.

Big hugs (",)

Nika M. said...

I have pictures up in my house. I don't have people over very often, but even when I do, I don't care if they are uncomfortable. If it's that bad, they don't hafta come back.

sarah s. said...

I've been following your blog since Nolan was born, then I read back to read his whole story. I remember checking multiple times a day for an update on him and cried for you many times. I don't think it's strange that you hang his picture. I had a miscarriage and made a memory box with pictures of our whole family to remember that time. I included a letter to the baby and unfortunately all I have is a picture of the pregnancy test because we didn't make it long enough for an ultrasound. I've had people look at it but thankfully never said anything. I can't imagine how it must hurt to have such a request to remove the picture. That person wouldn't be welcomed in my home unless they can accept the pictures will stay up. It is your choice how you remember your son. What a blessing to have had such a great nurse in Ellen, I'm sure she wasn't the only one who has such fond memories of your precious little boy!

Ava's mummy said...

I think it is beautiful that you have pictures of Nolan. We too have pictures of Ava on display whilst she was in NICU with all the tubes and wires. I wish too we had the cute newborn pics but we don't and this is all I have of my daughter.

I love how you write about the ferocity of keeping Nolan's memory alive, I feel exactly the same about Ava's memory.

Wishing your gentle days and thank you for sharing your pictures of beautiful Nolan. x

Lisa said...

I must be crazy too!

Jamilyn said...

Dont ever take down your pictures. He is your child and will forever be. If a parent lost a child at the age of 9 or whenever would you think that parent would take down every picture that had that child in it and box them up? Some people just dont think about it in the big picture. I have pictures up of my 2 angels, infact they have a special table in my living room with some willow tree angels and candles behind my sofa. They are the first things I see when I walk down the stairs in the morning. I am now 10 years and 1 1/2 years in the grief process for my angels but one thing I know for certain is the pictures I have of them are about the only thing id run into a burning building to get besides my son who is alive. Cherish your memories and your photos, do whatever helps you and you are comfortable with that is all that matters.

Millie said...

I have been following your story for a long time, but have never commented. Now I must. YOU NEVER TAKE THE PHOTOS DOWN!! You are his mother, no matter if he is here or not. Would your mother take your pictures down if you died? NO! Because it doesn't matter if your child is yours for 3 mintues, 3 days, 3 years, 30 years, or 90 years--your babies are ALWAYS your babies. Whoever said this to you should be ashamed of themselves. They obviously have no idea what it means to be a parent. Sending you love and prayers like always.

Emily said...

I would be SOOOOO pissed if anyone even HINTED that they were bothered by Aidan's pictures or that I shouldn't have them in my house. It's MY house for goodness sake, and I'll do whatever I damn well please with MY son's pictures. I'll blow it up poster size and cover the living room wall with it if I want. Sheesh. Nolan and Aidan all the other preemies in the world are just as valid as people, and as somebody's child as the fat Gerber babies of the world. I'd like to remind people that we were ALL that size at some point in our existence. No one would think anything morbid of having photos up in your house of adults or beloved pets who have passed away...so why not your preemie son? I have Aidan's picture up all over my house. I love his photos. You're not crazy.

Cecilia said...

I have NILMDTS pictures of our son hung in our house. Some people think it's weird because he was stillborn, but they are priceless to us. I don't assign value to a person's life based on the amount of time they spend here, but unfortunately I think some do. Your home is YOURS and you can honor Nolan in it however you want!

Missy said...

You keep those pictures up and always keep his memory alive. My brother passes away 22 years ago just after his 2nd birthday and my parents still have his photos in their home. Never worry about what makes others uncomfortable!

cmatsukes said...

There is not a thing wrong with hanging these pics its your house and you can do what you like no matter what others think, baby or child or adult not anything weird about hanging pics of those that left us that we always will remember in my family my house is full of pics of all my family members that have passed it is part of your past so it will always be part of the future.

Holly said...

You're not crazy. I have pictures too. I can't believe someone told you to take them down. That's just outrageous to me. I would be furious if someone said that to me.

Melissa said...

Nolan is your son. He existed in this world and now lives with Jesus. If he had died at 8 or 18 or 58 would he be any less your son? You are doing everything exactly right.

Vicki-Lou said...

Your story is touching and beautiful.
I suffered a miscarriage for my first pregnancy. Never got to see ultrasound pictures, but I carry the weight in my heart.
My second pregnancy had to be delivered 5 weeks early. She was a trooper. My husband, a photographer, took the most gorgeous pictures of her with the wires and tubes the day she was born (father's day). She's our little miracle.
She just celebrated her 1st birthday last week, but I still keep the memory of "the first one" in my heart.
Keep fighting for his memory. It is the hardest trials in life that keep you the strongest.

Jennifer Zimdars said...

I don't understand why anyone would ask a question such as that other than they have never lost someone, especially a child. But then again people deal with their grief differently.

My brother died suddenly at the age of 11. Very much an unexpected death. It was 12 1/2 years ago. I still have his favorite jacket hanging up in my closet that I look at sometimes. I have one of his favorite beanie babies sitting on my desk. He was cremated and his beautiful urn is sitting in my mothers living room prominently on a bookcase for anyone who chooses to look.

We have photos of him everywhere. He was a special boy and if anyone were ever to question me on why I have my brothers pictures up or anything else I would be very offended, because those are just my little reminders. He was a very loved little boy.

Miche said...

You aren't crazy or weird. They are our children.

I have never even thought twice about her pictures being in our house.

Maybe it does bother people but she is our daughter.

Just Kerry said...

You have another child, that will always be part of the family, Your strength is amazing
http://apalpablelife.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-angels-stories.html

Hethr said...

Hang up his pictures and do it with pride - why should you deny any part of your family simply because he is no longer with you? God bless!

Kat said...

You should not feel crazy for hanging up his picture! I know this does not compare at all!!! But on a WAY tinier scale, we had a puppy that was the love of our lives and at a young 6 months she got hit by a car and died. I have pictures of her thrOughout our house. Some people think it's weird that I talk about her often. But I loved her and she was a part of our family, even if it was only for a couple of months. I don't want to pretend she didn't exist an I don't think you should either.

Sarah said...

If you're crazy then I'm crazy too. Sadly, I think I have more pictures of my angel baby spread throughout my house than of my rainbow baby.

Cheryl said...

My daughter was never even born. We lost her at 15 weeks. I keep the profile picture from her last ultrasound on my phone. I don't show it to people unless they ask, but I do look at it every now and then. I've also got a photo album full of ultrasounds and memorable items. This was my first pregnancy.

We all do what we have to do to honor our loved ones and get through our own grieving process. You don't owe ANYONE an explanation or anything else.

Much love to you and your family.

Carly said...

Heck no you are NOT crazy. You are a loving mother. I have Will's pics all over my house and they'll never come down. Nolan is your son and a part of your family and he should be shown off!

Andrea said...

No, you are NOT CRAZY! You are a Mother, a mama to your sweet boys. Trust me, if I had photos of my Christian I would frame them, hang them and place them in my home. The thought of someone suggesting you take them down is heartbreaking. It's just unfortunate that person voiced an opinion on a subject they obviously know nothing about :(

Honor your sweet boy Ashley and keep mothering him however you choose. So sorry you had to endure these emotions, as it just takes you back to such a painful place...grief revisited is incredibly difficult. And having another child often escalates it, or at least it has for me. Just another layer.

BIG HUGS

Pam McBride said...

This makes me downright angry!! How DARE someone come into YOUR home and say anything about the pictures you have displayed of YOUR son??!! Ugh. That is so damn wrong. A person you invited into your home, and they have the nerve and audacity to have something negative to say, the audacity to suggest you should not have photos of your baby on your own walls!! Wow... Some people... If I were you I'd think twice about inviting that person into your home again, and I hope to God it wasn't a family member. I'm so sorry someone did that to you, Ashley. You have every right to remember and honor your precious angel however YOU and his daddy desire! What nerve!!

ourlittlehippie.com said...

F-Yea, hang them up! Cry, laugh, smile, and remember when you look at them. Liam's pictures hang on our walls at home, and in my locker at work....there isn't a way that I could make it through the day without seeing his face.

Happy Birthday, Nolan!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Crazy - no, not at all! That is the only time you had with Nolan. It is no different then having pictures on the wall if someone loses a child who is older.

nasha said...

YOUR STORY IS VERY TOUCHING..KEEP YOUR PICTURES UP..ITS YOUR HOME IT SHOULDNT MATTER WHAT OTHERS THINK..MY HUSBAND HAS HIS NIECES PICTURE WHO PASSED AWAY AT 3 MONTHS TATTOOED ON HIS ARM..YOUR NOLAN IS VERY A HANDSOME YOUNG MAN WITH TUBES AND ALL..PLZ NEVER TAKE DOWN YOUR PICTURES FOR ANYBODY THOSE ARE FOR YOU TO WAKE UP EVERYDAY AND SEE YOUR BBY BOY

poohpooh22101 said...

This was much needed. My son lived for 8 days and we went thru all of the nicu tubes and wires as well before he just couldnt fight any more. I have pics of him out in my home as well as the bear that we put his ashes in (that I still talk to 3 years later :) ). I was wondering if it was time to take them down but I dont think I'm ready to. He is as much a part of my life as my daughters are even though he is not physically here.

CelesteBarajas said...

There is nothing wrong with displaying photos of your beautiful baby boy. He lived 3 wonderful days and u were able to capture those days with photos. My daughter lived for.5 wonderful days and I have a few photos in my living room, bedroom, and my office. You are not crazy. It would be crazy to no put up photos of your baby just because he is no longer here. In those photos he was aliive, Breathing and the only difference from a newborn is the fact that he was sick and had all these machines to help him live a little longer. It bothers me when people comment that my daughters photo makes them sad, to see her with wires and tubes. But in my eyes, I see my beautiful daughter whom I loved and will continue to love the same way I love my other child.

CelesteBarajas said...

There is nothing wrong with displaying photos of your beautiful baby boy. He lived 3 wonderful days and u were able to capture those days with photos. My daughter lived for.5 wonderful days and I have a few photos in my living room, bedroom, and my office. You are not crazy. It would be crazy to no put up photos of your baby just because he is no longer here. In those photos he was aliive, Breathing and the only difference from a newborn is the fact that he was sick and had all these machines to help him live a little longer. It bothers me when people comment that my daughters photo makes them sad, to see her with wires and tubes. But in my eyes, I see my beautiful daughter whom I loved and will continue to love the same way I love my other child.

Ranee @ Arabian Knits said...

I'm a little late to this post, but I want to encourage you never to take them down unless you feel like you want to do so.

We lost a baby at 12 weeks a few months after you posted this. The only pictures we have are pictures we guard others from, because they look so graphic and gruesome to others. I cannot delete them from my phone or my camera, because they are all that I can hold. I was so weak, and only barely got to touch our child. We did the miscarriage at home because we wanted to be able to have the body to bury, rather than have medical people suck him or her into a hazardous waste disposal.

We have other children. This was our first loss. We have a large family, and I am pregnant with another child right now. I feel guilty for grieving still. For having this pain that bubbles up sometimes out of nowhere.

We are Christian, and believe in the resurrection of the body and believe our child is in the presence of God praying and whole and perfect. We believe that this child was spared our mistakes and being hurt from us, that he or she is in a perfect place. It does not make the pain less when it strikes. I have come from a place where I hurt every day and every 15th of the month to only occasional twinges, but the reminders still hurt.

It has made the question of how many children we have or how many pregnancies we've had much more complicated. I am thankful for my husband who calls us parents of nine rather than seven (one for Rayan who we lost and one more for our child who is due in three months).

Please don't feel bad or strange for having these pictures on your wall. People in our culture don't know how to grieve or remember things that aren't perfect. It is them, not you.

Nadia's on it said...

Hi. I've wondered the same. My Luka died about 20 minutes after he was born. It was an umbilical cord accident.. He was full term. I keep a picture in a prominent place. It was taken after he passed but you wouldn't know that to see it. Some of my family members have a hard time with it, making me wonder if I'm inappropriate. The messages here have helped me realize that its ok to do what I think is right for me. My heart goes out to you. I think of my son everyday as you must.