A Mother's Heartache

Updated Sep 09, 2015
A Mother's Heartache
My grief is full of confusion and anger and disappointment. But every day I am the mother who prays, Oh Jesus! Jesus.

We got into our second argument of the day, in the car, on our way to small group.

“Something must be going on with you,” my husband said. “You’re having an off day.”

His remarks stung, but I knew they were true. Something was off. What was it? I didn’t want to be having an off day. I didn’t want to be ugly crying at small group, either, but that’s what ended up happening.

Sitting on the front steps of my friend’s house with her hand on my back and my husband standing behind me (all of us wondering where my tears were coming from), I was suddenly hit with the answer.

“I am off today,” I admitted. “Something happened while I was working…”


I noticed the floating body seconds before the lifeguard’s whistle filled the air. A small boy was lifted out of the water and instantly surrounded by a group of gaping teenage lifeguards. My hands fluttered around me as I dropped the book I had been reading and ushered the six children I nanny towards me. “Don’t look,” I said, and attempted to distract them with snacks.

Minutes slowly passed, and the crowd around the boy grew bigger. In all the days spent there prior, I had never heard the pool be so quiet. Then, a break in the hush—and the sound I had been dreading: the animalistic screams of the boy’s mother as she stumbled through the barricade of bystanders and collapsed against her son.

My heart dropped and I turned my head, as if looking away would somehow turn down the volume of a mother’s worst nightmare. I tried to block out the comparisons between her situation and mine. I pulled the children close and leaned my head against their wet, skinny bodies, trying not to think about my own reasons to cry out.

Oh, Jesus! I prayed. Jesus.

After a while, the boy began to breathe again and was carted off on a stretcher to receive more attention. His mother trailed behind the paramedics, shoulders shaking and hands covering her face.


“That’s going to be me,” I explained through sobs to my husband and friend. Then, I finally voiced the words that had been ringing in my head all afternoon:

“I’m going to be that mom whose child is not breathing. I’m going to be the one screaming with grief.”


I heard my baby’s heart slow to a stop a month after witnessing that horrific scene at the pool. I was 34 weeks along, and had known for two and a half months that the baby inside me was measuring small and would likely die in my womb.

I don’t know how to even begin to explain how hard those months were.

Underneath my sorrow was a fear of what I’d be faced with once giving birth to my baby. My husband and I had been warned that our baby might be disfigured due to my lack of amniotic fluid (which kept the baby from being able to grow). I was terrified by the idea of birthing my dead child, and even more scared by the idea of holding him or her.

On July 13th, 2013, I was the mom whose child was no longer breathing. Andy and I had a son, who we named John Andrew. He was 11 ounces, and he was beautiful. I held him and memorized his nose, ears, lips, fingers and toes. I didn’t scream with grief like I imagined I would. The strangest thing happened instead—I felt joy. As devastated as I was over the loss of my boy, I was happy and relieved that the time I spent holding him wasn’t the terror-filled experience I expected it to be. The intense grief hit me weeks later, and it has come in waves ever since.

My grief is full of confusion and anger and disappointment. I become overwhelmed easily, am tired often and struggle with being patient toward others and myself. Some days I am the mother who screams.

But every day I am the mother who prays the same desperate prayer she prayed this summer at the pool.

Oh, Jesus! Jesus.

“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief… But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:9, 14-15a (NIV)

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Laura's headshotLaura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.