Before we ever had an idea that Matthew was gone, we had booked a vacation to San Antonio for Labor Day Weekend. Brad had been traveling five days a week for months and we were desperate for some family time. When Matthew passed away, I was hesitant to go on the trip. I was definitely not in a state of mind to go and enjoy myself, but I knew it would be good for the girls to get away and have some fun. I committed to plaster on a smile and move forward with our plans.
"Do it for the girls. For Brad. For our family. Stop thinking only of yourself," my inner dialogue kept telling me over and over again. "You've been a depressed mess for a week now. Get up and be the wife and mom you're supposed to be." So I did.
Brad had tons of Hyatt points from all of his traveling, so we chose to stay the first night at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk. We'd stayed there several times and enjoyed it, but when we got there this time, the rooms we had reserved were all booked. Since Brad was a Platinum Member, they upgraded us to the Presidential Suite. We'd never stayed in a room quite like this. It was like what you see in movies; a separate bedroom, a dining room, two bathrooms, a living room and a full kitchen. It was the little things that impressed the girls the most. There was a television in the bathroom and the room had a doorbell. They just couldn't get over it. While this place was an amazing gift, my heart couldn't enjoy it like I wanted it to. The sadness was too great. It was like I was walking around with a heavy blanket over my head, suffocating me more with every breath I took.
We love going to San Antonio. We've been more times than I could count. Usually we are pretty tight with our money and refuse the girls most of what they ask. This weekend, however, we didn't have the heart to tell them no. We went to the wax museum, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a horse drawn carriage around the city, ate snow cones, went to the Hard Rock Cafe and generally bought them what they asked for. It was a new experience for them for sure. I knew they needed to have fun and let loose. I hadn't been a joy to live with lately, for sure and they were struggling to understand what it meant to lose a brother they'd never met. My mom guilt was high and I just wanted them to be happy.
In the meantime, I'd never been more miserable in my life. After delivering a baby only 5 days earlier, my body wasn't up for an entire day of walking through the city. I was cramping terribly and, to put the cherry on top, my milk came in that weekend. It never crossed my mind that this would happen. Nobody warned me or, if they did, it certainly didn't process with me. How cruel it seemed that not only did I have to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms, I still had a bloated, pregnant looking belly and now the reminder that I should be breastfeeding my son, but too bad, so sad... he's dead. I was spiraling downward fast, but I didn't want anyone in my family to know because I didn't want to ruin their trip. I'm sure I was much worse at hiding it than I thought I was, but I didn't want to be a Debbie Downer and rain on their parade. I'd just smile through the literal pain. I'd be in pain whether I was home in bed or walking through San Antonio.
The next day we went to Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. It was at least a more relaxing time. The kids and Brad played in the lazy river most of the time and I sat poolside with a book. I felt like everyone thought I was pregnant because of my leftover baby belly and I was terrified someone would ask me when I was due. I kept myself covered up in my swimsuit to avoid the inevitable question. I didn't want to order a margarita anywhere because I thought I'd get judgmental looks from onlookers thinking I was drinking while I was pregnant.
I'd see pregnant women, babies and mothers everywhere I looked and be filled with jealousy and anger. Did they have any idea how fortunate they were? I could just imagine them complaining about being kept up at night or their swollen ankles and I would get angry all over again. What I wouldn't give to be exhausted from staying up with a screaming baby or swollen from carrying around 30 extra pounds of baby around inside my body. I heard one mother call out to her toddler and his name was Matthew. I broke out into sobs in the hotel lobby. I was a literal mess, as much as I tried to pull myself together for the sake of my family. It just wasn't possible.
On the drive home, it hit me. The only way I was going to heal was to have another baby ASAP. I knew it was going to become my new obsession. Nothing else would ease this pain except a healthy baby in my arms. Though nothing scared me more than going through this pain again, I remembered the promise God had whispered in my ear the day of the funeral, that I'd have a healthy son again one day, and I clung to that promise with every fiber of my being. It was all that I could think of after we got back home. Was that promise a figment of my imagination? Even if it was real, it wasn't promised that I wouldn't lose another baby before I had my healthy boy. It was a risk I had to take, because my need for a baby boy in my arms was greater than my fear of losing another one. I needed him because my heart felt incomplete without my unfulfilled promise.