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  • Writer's pictureNoah Ashley

16 Photos

I was going through pictures on my phone the other day. My son Amir is now three-and-a-half months old and it’s no surprise to me that there are now countless videos and pictures of him saved in there. I started to go through them, planning to clear out some unnecessary screenshots of motivational quotes or even pictures of him that didn’t completely come out the way i wanted them to. As I was scrolling through the albums, I came across my most cherished album, which is titled Jensen. I always have that album sitting there for moments that I like to look at him. Private moments where I can go over each detail of his small life in my head. I opened the album and started counting the pictures that I have from the hospital. The ones the nurses took for me with him holding his first and last teddy bear and his first and last heart shaped pillow. I counted only 16 photos from that day. 16 photos of my first son, which inevitably would be the only 16 photos I would ever have. In that moment, I felt like a ton of bricks sat upon my chest, the weight of all my grief coming back and sitting on my shoulders like an old friend. I sobbed for what seemed like a long time.

Then I went to Amir’s room, sat on the floor next to the crib and just watched him sleep. As he was just laying there breathing in and out, I was never so thankful to see something so beautiful. His cheeks, though relaxed, were full of life and promise, his hands and arms tucked snuggly into his swaddle. His curly hair sticking out in different directions yet somehow appeared to be in perfect place. I started whispering to him about his brother. About how I became pregnant to someone I didn’t love anymore 5 years ago. About how I was so ready to become a mother even though I planned to do it alone. About how God decided that it wasn’t my time yet and that just five short years later, I would become a mommy again.

I started telling him about how my pregnancy this time around went. Doctor’s placing me on a “high risk plan” due to what they call “fetal demise” Such a great way to label a mother who has lost her child in the womb, isn’t it? I told him about how for months the doctor’s believed he would be at risk for Down Syndrome or possibly other developmental issues. I told him about how I struggled mentally the whole entire 9 months of being pregnant because I was so afraid of losing him the way I lost his brother. I told him how every time he moved around in my belly it gave me so much comfort but then it also made me fearful. I told him that I didn’t know if I deserved to be a mother- that there were points in my life where I was extremely selfish- and I didn’t want to be a shit mom. I told him all these things as I sat on the floor watching him sleep. I was reminded in this moment that I see things differently than mothers who have not lost children. I look at every moment, even so slight as watching Amir breathe, as the greatest gift I have been given. I knew the moment the doctors told me that he may have Down Syndrome or some type of developmental issue- that it didn't

matter, as long as he was alive and could live life without physical pain. I knew that God’s grace covered over me the first moment I heard him cry after a very traumatic emergency c section. I waited for almost 5 years to hear my child cry. I waited 5 years to sit next to his crib, watching him breathe, and finally let some of my grief out. And somehow, even though he was born 3 weeks early, he was the healthiest baby and passed all of his tests at his small stature of 4lbs 15oz.

I’m thankful everyday for Jensen’s life and the impact it has had on who I am now as a mother. The short period I carried him in my womb taught me more lessons than I would have ever learned about self-love, patience, self-forgiveness, and perseverance through grief. He taught me to hold on to Amir a little tighter and to cherish each moment like I’ll never get it back. So after I finished telling my sleeping boy about his brother I decided to not delete any of the “not so perfect” photos I have, but instead, I created another Album, right to the one titled “Jensen” that is titled “In Memory Of 16 Photos” where I plan to keep our perfect not so perfect moments together.

-Gabrielle B. PA, USA

The Hippy Soul: The Meditation Station


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