‘We left with a box. Not a baby. Not our child. But with a box.’

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“We left the hospital with a box.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. We were supposed to leave with a baby–a living, breathing, adorable baby. A baby to take home and love and raise. One that we would watch grow up into a toddler and a child and a teenager.

But we left with a box.

A box filled with beautiful keepsakes that I didn’t ask for. They were not what we wanted, and they were all we had left. I resented that box. I wanted nothing to do with that box.

That box felt all wrong in my hands, but still I couldn’t put it down. It was all that was left of the life we lost. It was all we had left of our baby who died. There was nothing in that box that I wanted but it represented all I had ever dreamed of.

We left with a box.

Not a baby. Not our child. But with a box.

No one smiles at you when you leave the hospital carrying a box. No one really looks at you. Or maybe they do, but you can’t be sure. It’s hard to look at anyone when your arms feel so empty and life feels so uncertain.

I didn’t want that box.

I wanted my baby. I wanted to leave the hospital with my baby. I wanted to place her carefully in the car. I wanted to carry her across the threshold of our new life together.

But I came home with a box.

A box that I hated and loved all at once. I hate what it stands for and I love that it belongs to her. I hate that it exists, and I love that it reminds me I’m not alone. It’s a box I never wanted and one that I will carry with me forever.

So, to the people who say they can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child, I say this: Think about what it was like to bring home your baby and imagine what it would feel like to bring home a box instead.”

Courtesy Rachel Whalen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Whalen of An Unexpected Family Outing. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more from Rachel here:

‘The first time I flushed was in the bathroom of my old apartment. Just 3 days before, I had been standing on that same linoleum floor staring at two blue lines.’

‘Do you want to tell me about her?’ I will never forget the way you leaned in, just like we were friends, and asked me about Dorothy.

‘The purple blanket isn’t yours. Even though it covered your car seat when you left the hospital. Even though you sleep with it every night. It’s not yours.’

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