I am married to my high school sweetheart and live in the suburbs of South Florida. In 2010, we found out we were pregnant quickly with our first child, a beautiful boy named Ethan who was born on June 22nd, 2011. A couple of years later, we decided to give our son a sibling. Quickly as well, we were pregnant again in November of 2013. We found out our baby was a girl and we selected the name Wylie Meadow.
My son and I had painted her nursery. We decided on a surfer girl theme. I bought him so many "big brother" shirts (and couldn't resist a few "little sister" shirts for her growing wardrobe, too). Ethan was an amazing big brother. He put so much care into each teal stroke of paint he applied to the walls. "This is baby 'Wy-wee's room," he would smile. "Is baby Wy-wee here yet, mommy?"
The day after Mother's Day, I went in for a routine visit and that's when I heard the news. At 27 1/2 weeks pregnant, they told me my daughter's heart was not normal. Alone, just myself and the doctor, I had all but blacked out. I remember screaming, screaming, screaming and collapsing and shaking and crying and calling my uncle -- a physician -- to make it better.
Oh, god, please, just make it better. Not my baby. This doesn't happen to me. This isn't happening to me. A part of me died that day as I listened to the doctors and specialists speak. "Incompatible with life." They were talking about my daughter but, they may as well have been talking about me. The next week was filled with doctor's appointments. As I listened to specialists discuss the fact that my daughter would likely not survive, I thought of my beautiful son's face as he painted his sister's nursery. I thought of him, at home with his grandfather, blissfully unaware of anything except that his birthday was fast approaching.
"Mommy," he asked me one afternoon as I laid lifeless in my mother's bed like a child myself, feeling my daughter move in my belly for one of the last times, "are you sad because you don't want to have my birthday party anymore?"
Wylie Meadow Joly was born on May 23rd, 2014. I was 30 weeks pregnant. As labor began, I asked the doctor if she thought Wylie would come on the 23rd -- my wedding anniversary. She smiled sympathetically and squeezed my hand. "We can hope she will come before." As I gave birth to my daughter, the silence was screaming back at me. I screamed so hard until my body was numb. And as she left my body, it was only my screams filling the night. I will never forget the way her warm body felt leaving my own; the last time her skin felt warm, the last time I felt whole.
My husband and I had her photographed and cremated in the outfit our son wore on his first night home from the hospital. She would never get a first night home from the hospital. I refused to count her arrival home in an urn -- a tiny silver urn with blue teddy bears on the sides -- as a night home from the hospital. She was so beautiful. Whereas her brother favored me in looks, Wylie was her father's clone right down to the tight, dark curls. She was so beautiful. She was so perfect. What's that old adage? Something about something being so right yet so wrong?
Wylie's heart was broken. The inside of her was terminal. The outside, well, it was so beautiful. How do you kiss your child hello and goodbye forever? How do you cope? How do you answer the question "Is he your only one?" when people stop you out in public with your living child. How do you respond when the Target cashier jokingly says "Give that boy a sibling," unaware of the hell that you are living in. In some ways, it feels I no longer relate to the world of motherhood. In so many ways, my perspective has changed and sent me spinning into an entirely different realm of living. "Oh, if only my baby would stop crying," a mother will joke at a mommy and me class. What I wouldn't give to hear my baby cry all throughout the night. I have refused to stop speaking about Wylie.
As a blogger (youaretheroots.com), I refuse to stop writing about Wylie. I am okay with being the person people come to when they need someone, when they have received a terminal diagnosis in utero or when they know someone who knows someone who knows someone whose baby died. I refuse to give in to the silence. Wylie mattered. She matters. With my memorial tattoo on my back for her, I carry her memory on my physical body. I will shout my love for her from the rooftops. "When will you try again," people ask as if this is some great consolation. "You're young. Try again," they urge.
Try again! Like I rolled the dice during a board game and landed myself back two squares. To trivialize my daughter, her life, our love...how? How is that acceptable? I will be my daughter's voice forever. The voice she never got to have. I will live for her on days when it feels impossible to go on. And I will love her always, with the love a mother will always have. If I can be of any help during this project, please, don't hesitate to contact me. I've donated to the Kickstarter and will continue to share the word.