‘When I was pregnant, I thought about a perfect ‘going home’ outfit for my child. A soft, blue sleeper with tiny elephants. I never had that picture-perfect moment.’: Mom shares child loss, grief journey

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“That perfect little outfit. A soft, blue sleeper with tiny elephants dancing across. When I was pregnant, I thought about that ‘going home’ outfit for my child, an adorable piece of clothing that would help introduce him to the world. But, as a parent of child loss, I never had that picture-perfect moment.

That tiny blue sleeper is the only outfit I ever picked out for my son. It’s what he wore the day he passed away.

I stood outside the children’s store, my hands shaking as my heart started racing. I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears, and put on a brave face as I walked inside. Rows and rows of baby clothes filled the space. Adorable tutus were paired with pink leggings, darling dresses with hearts and bows. I turned my attention to the baby boy section and started looking through racks of clothing.

The tragic reality of child loss sank in as I found myself searching for that perfect outfit. While parents around me were giddy, choosing adorable clothes for their newborns, I was faced with something no parent ever wants to experience.

I needed that final outfit, the one my child would take his last breath in.

I quickly looked through button-down shirts and matching shorts. And I glanced at t-shirts before eventually finding a printed sleeper that caught my eye. Dark blue, soft and fuzzy, with little elephants scattered about. I found the smallest size possible for my 22 weeker son and I held it up in front of me, inspecting each nook and cranny.

The tears began to pour down my face as the walls of the store felt like they were closing in on me. People went about their shopping, oblivious to me, the mother who would never get to watch her son grow up. I would never buy the adorable swim trunks, or the next size in pajamas. I would never pick out little shoes and I would never see my son walk for the first time. My gravely ill son would never reach those milestones.

I handed the outfit to my mother and told her I had to leave, the anxiety and heartache proved to be too much. I raced out of the store and started sobbing on the sidewalk, not caring about the concerned looks from strangers as they passed by.

I could have sent my mother to choose an outfit, sparing me the unfathomable pain I felt in that moment. But, I am his mother and I wanted to be the one to pick out his first and final outfit.

Preemie baby who didn't live long lays asleep in fathers hands in blue onesie with elephants
Courtesy of Stacey Skrysak

Four days later, I held my son for that final time. I rocked him as I read to him, staying strong so he wouldn’t see the heartache I felt. And as I watched my beautiful son, I glanced at his outfit. He looked at peace, snuggled warmly in his little blue sleeper.

It’s been 5 ½ years since my son went to Heaven and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of him. And on those days when I miss him the most, I think fondly of my son, cozy in his little blue outfit…picture perfect in every way.”

This story was written by Stacey Skrysak, an award winning television journalist based in Illinois. It originally appeared on her blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more about Stacey’s triplets:

‘How are the kids?’ I gave her a puzzled look, wondering if I heard her correctly. My heart began to race and my breathing became faster. Tears erupted as my mind instantly flashed back to 3 years ago.’

‘I received a message. My entire body began shaking. To the woman who called me SICK for talking about my children who died, my heart hurts for you.’

‘My eyes darted back and forth as I tried to make sense of where I was. As the fog lifted inside my head, I vaguely remembered bits and pieces of the day before.

‘I walked into my daughter’s room and instantly spotted that paper from the past. Seeing the 7 digits and extension took my breath away.’

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