Seven Years

People always say that life can change in an instant.  And for me it did.  Seven years ago today I delivered, loved and lost our stillborn son Matthew.  I was completely overcome with grief, literally running through every fiber of my being.  Three days prior confirmed what my mommy heart already knew… my baby had died.  I had to wait those dreadful days to be admitted to the hospital and, after eighteen gruesome hours of labor, I gave birth to our tiny and perfect son.   It was Thanksgiving Day and we spent it in the “fetal demise” wing of Emory Hospital.  I keep a small box of his meager memories, and they are the most precious “things” that I own.  We later learned from Matthew’s autopsy that I passed a blood clot through my cord.
how I told Honey I was pregnant with Matthew…


August 2007 178

I share this story each year mostly because I never want to forget him.  I have three sons and am blessed enough to have two of them still with me.  I carry Matthew in my heart  Most people that I meet have no idea that there is a third.  So I write about him and tell all of you about him.  Because he is very, very real to me.

I also share my story because, more than anything in the world, when I was going through this immense loss I desperately wanted to talk to someone that had been there.  My family and friends helped every way they knew how, and for that I will forever be grateful.  I have not forgotten a single act of kindness during that time.  But I longed to talk to someone that had walked this road, and I needed to hear that I would be whole again.  And while I cannot make sense of losing a child, I can now clearly see what a gift the passage of time truly is in healing a heart. So, if you or someone you know ever needs someone like I did during that time, please, please just ask.

And the last reason that I talk about Matthew is to help explain why I do all of the things that I do for John and Whit, day in and day out.  I just know how much of a miracle those two children truly are.  My blood clotting disorder was not unique to Matthew.  I went through my pregnancy with John blissfully unaware and delivered a healthy eight pounder two weeks early against ALL odds.  He only had a 20% chance of making it, I later found out.  My pregnancy with Whit was high risk and riddled with grief and worry.  On top of the blood clotting, I had a host of other issues with my placenta and everything else.  Even treated, the doctors gave me an 80% chance of a successful pregnancy.  But I prayed for that child like I’ve never prayed before.  Ever.  And he came safe and sound at nine pounds a whole week early.  So, I do my best to fill each and every one of the days that I have with them with love, joy and happiness.  I know that each day is a gift and that one day they will leave my nest.  I now know that is what I was put here to do, and it took losing Matthew to realize this.

November 2008 050

I decorate our house for Christmas in November every year.  The first time I ever did it that early was when I was pregnant with Matthew.  The day that I came home without him we lit up all the trees for the first time and it made me smile when I thought I might never smile again.  So, every year since, we decorate in mid-November and light everything up for the first time on Matthew’s birthday.

DSC_0082 copy

Today I remember all babies born and lost too soon, especially my dear friend S’s twin boys, and the daughters of friends RD, ET and AG.  Little Matthew lived a very short life, but it was one filled wholly with love, joy, wonder and adoration.  He never hurt, never wanted, never knew meanness or anger.  Just love.  And that’s exactly how I remember his life cut short.  With love.


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58 thoughts on “Seven Years

  1. Every child is precious and I know your memories of Matthew bring you great comfort Amanda. And your story just illustrates the fact that we often do not know the trials others are going through or have been through in the past….it should encourage us to extend grace to those around us. Thank you for that reminder.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I did a lot for my 2 boys also. They are now kind, responsible adults, active in the community and caring to their parents. You can never pour too much love to kids. Your traditions are personal and wonderful.

  3. Bless you, thank you for sharing about Matthew. I was privileged enough to be with my sister in law at the birth of my nephew this spring, he only lived 15 minutes, but left a very big hole in all of our lives.
    God bless

  4. Amanda, I want to say for at least a year now and maybe longer I've been checking in on your blog each morning – literally every morning it's one of the blogs I like to peruse through as I drink my morning coffee and start my day.:) And I've gone back and read some of your older posts and love your home, etc. And I have read some of your older posts about Matthew and I just wanted to say that every time you write a new piece about him I'm moved all over again for you and your family and at the same time as a Christian I'm uplifted knowing that Matthew is actually probably right there with you all and possibly even acting as a guardian angel and you are right; shielded from any pain and hurt this world has to offer. I so admire how you keep his memory fresh. I think mothers do need to talk about those times. Anyway, I love your blog, and I love your home. I have two sons and I have a Matthew who is my youngest and Benjamin is my oldest who will be graduating this year from high school! My husband passed away when they were very young so I've raised them as a single mom with the support of my family and friends and hopefully I've done a good job! Reading about yours brings back memories of mine when they were that age. Hope your holidays are blessed!

  5. Oh my goodness. I cannot articulate adequately my feelings for you here. Thank you for sharing this sad but love filled story. As I was reading, my eldest woke up and came downstairs. He will be going to college next year and will be playing baseball, so there will be weeks, maybe months, that I won't see him. Nevertheless, I feel so immensely blessed. Thank you for that reminder. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy every minute with your precious family.

  6. Dear Amanda, I remember reading Matthew's story last year. He is truly an angel and you will be united with him one day. You are a wonderful mother to your other two boys here on earth….never apologize for spending time with them….you are so right that they leave all two quickly. Although my baby boy is 40 (!) and daughter just turned 38 (another !) they are still, and always will be, my babies!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your precious family….your Christmas decorations are fabulous!

  7. You know you really did give me the 'face' that I could be whole again. You have been my beacon of light and hope when I am sad or fighting the darkness. Thank you for always answering cray cray emails! Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing! xoxo

  8. A beautiful tribute to your 3 boys Amanda.
    You are a wonderful mother and are creating lasting memories for your family.
    Thank you for sharing Matthew with us each year.

  9. God walks beside you every minute of every day. Many blessings to you and your family as you remember and honor your beloved Matthew.

  10. Amanda, I've been reading your blog for at least three years now, and every year your post about Matthew's short life brings me to tears. I think it is so incredibly generous of you to offer yourself to the friends and family of your readers, and I hope some people take you up on that and it brings both you and the people you speak with comfort. You are such a wonderful mother, I don't have children myself, but we're the same age and I am always amazed at the dedication you put into your family. I strive to be like you one day. Your tradition of lighting the decorations on Matthew's birthday is an extremely thoughtful and kind way to honor his short life and share him with John and Whit. My heart goes out to you and your family today.

  11. God Bless. I lost my first child also, but was bless with a beautiful daughter on November 22, l959, last year I was blessed with a beautiful miracle Great-grandson on November 22, 2013. This is such a special day for me two. My heart is with you.

  12. Don't ever stop talking about your sweet son. We lost our son to cancer. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't speak his name. He especially loved baseball. He was so cute in his little uniform. This post was so full of love. Your boys are beautiful and I am sure Matthew is watching over you all untll you are with him again.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. Amanda, I read your post about Matthew every year and each year you beautifully articulate the love and loss you feel. As a mom of two sons, my heart aches for you but I also feel such happiness for you knowing the love you have in your family. You are such a beautiful person and I admire your strength and courage. You have so much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving you and your darling family!
    xxoo Shelley

  14. You are a beautiful woman, Amanda. All that you do and share has such incredible, heart-felt depth. Matthew's touch is in every single bow, invitation, chalkboard message, flower arrangement, door decoration and family gathering that you put together. He's the flickering flames on your warm porch and the stars in the summer nights. And today, he is brilliantly sparkling in every corner of your home! I pray your sweet family will be filled with comfort and joy from the Heavenly glow of your lights, celebrating his special day. God bless you all, friend. Jane

  15. Your blog brings me so much joy (and gives me lots of great ideas with my kiddos!). Thanks for letting us "in". It's such an inspiration too see you have gotten through a time that many of us can't imagine going through. God bless sweet Matthew and your family. I have a good friend who lost her baby many years ago now- you never forget. xx

  16. I'm so sorry for the loss of Matthew, and I can't even imagine the sorrow & hurt. I love that you celebrate & honor Matthew's birthday by lighting up your home. You're a precious mom to all of your sons! Peace, Blessings, and Hugs to you and your family.

  17. Thanks for sharing your story again. Such a wonderful reminder to treasure each and every day with the ones you love. You are an inspiration as a mother! Happy Thanksgiving! -HM

  18. Praying for you today. My dear friend lost one of her twins a year and a half ago. I was there when the doctor gave them the news no parent deserves to hear. I can't even imagine the grief. I'm sure Matthew is up there in Heaven today looking down and smiling at you and all of the decorations lit up in his honor today.

  19. Amanda, though I am old enough to be your mother, I am in awe of the wisdom in your heart and mind. I lost an adult daughter 2 years ago and don't wish that pain on anyone. We belong to a club where there should be no members. You've quickly learned to cherish each moment of your children's lives and they are fortunate to have you as their mother.

  20. Amanda,
    I cannot imagine losing a child. You are a strong woman and an amazing mother. Matthew is always with you, truly an angel. I am so glad you have two little ones and I would spoil them riotten! Thanks for sharing your story again. It's a great reminder to cherish who you have.

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I have never lost a child, but my cousin and his wife lost their newborn son and a friend lost her twin boys. I can't imagine the pain or the strength it took to survive the experience. I have been blessed with a wonderful son, who is 19 now, and twin girls, 15. I thank God every day for them. They are truly the greatest joy of my life.

  22. I too have a precious little one waiting for me in heaven. My beautiful baby girl lived 7 months before leaving this world. Her situation was so rare that there was little help for her which left me with extremely painful memories. Most people could not imagine the torture her tiny body endured daily due to her condition. I do not have a single day of good memories except that she was loved more than words can convey. So I truly know how you feel about not wanting to forget Matthew. Who knows, maybe Matthew and my little Stephanie are playing together right this moment with all the other precious ones whom God is taking care of until we are with them again. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  23. Hi Amanda, thanks for sharing about Matthew today. You are a great mom. Went to Mass tonight and wanted to give you a heads up. I don't know about you, but I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence. Just wanted to give you a heads up before you go to Mass- this Sunday's gospel is according to, of course, Matthew. I thought that is really special. No way that is a coincidence. I am thinking of you and am sending you positive, happy thoughts.

  24. You are strong and brave to share this each year ~ I admire you for that. Losing Abby last year was so devastating that I wonder if I'll ever be "right" again…whatever that is. She absolutely loved Christmas! She loved all types of celebrations and that's why we continue those in her honor.

    I've always loved the things you do for and with John and Whit! Precious Matthew is an angel watching over all of you. I really admire your decorating!! I have a few things but haven't put them out.

    Keeping you in my prayers!

  25. If every child could have the love you give your boys, the world would be a happier place. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing Matthew with us. This only makes me love you more. Even though I am much older than you, I love reading your blog for many reasons , one being the way you parent. Even though two of my girls are grown, I still have a middle schooler at home . I love your Dixie Delight Musings and stories about the littles — always apropos of what is going on in my life — sans the bats, and the shingles. and ankle-gate …

  26. I woke up thinking of you and precious Matthew this morning. I will never forget that day seven years ago when I got the call from you. My heart broke into a million pieces for you that day and I have been amazed by your strength, grace and love from that day forward. I never forget that you are the mom to three boys, all so lucky to have you and I know that Matthew is a precious angel protecting and watching over your family. Never hesitate to do all the wonderful things you do for John and Whit or feel you have to explain. I wish I could be more like you in that respect. With you, every day is celebrated as it should be. I love you and admire your strength more than you know.

  27. Love you for this! Every year I say a prayer for Matthew and all born too soon! A dear friend is fighting pre mature labor as I type. Her first after adoption.

  28. That is the most beautiful way to remember someone, to know they are never forgotten and to remember the love that was there & continues every day. Thanks for sharing your story with us and letting us know Matthew and your love for him…my heart grieved for you during your story but I'm so happy you've been blessed with 2 more angels. Because children really are gifts from above, only ours for awhile and we have to love them every second of every day…mine are teens now and my last one will leave the nest in a year and I'm squeezing every last ounce of that boy that I can get I tell ya LOL. They are my heart no matter where I am or where they may go.


  29. Soo beautiful Amanda. I was oddly thinking of you and Matthew just yesterday. The fact that I know his name and now that I've been reading so long probably subconsciously know his birthday seems like a small miracle to me. Thinking of your struggle helped me through a small moment of stress when my kids were testing my patience. I was just with two of my best new mom friends tonight and heard that they both lost children way too late in their pregnancy and they think about them every day. I don't think think there's any sense to be made of such an awful tragedy, but I do believe you will meet matthew again someday and he will be so proud that you have been such a wonderful mama to him and his brothers. I love the message our pastor preaches every Easter where he says "the worst thing is never the last thing." (You might like this article he wrote after some devastating tornadoes hit near us You have always inspired me! I hope you write about Matthew every year.

  30. Dear Amanda, I've been reading your blog and enjoying your fantastic writing and creativity for a few months now. Tonight this post stopped me in my tracks. To say it was unexpected is an understatement. I am filled with respect for you – you are a strong woman and a sweet, trusting soul to share such a personal and difficult story with all of us. You brought us all closer tonight as mothers. We all weep for your pain and your loss, and we all feel the deep connection to you and to each other. I am grateful for your blog and I appreciate your heartfelt writing tonight. Blessings to you and your family.

  31. Amanda, As others have written, you have touched my heart when you share Matthew with us. I am blessed to have three children (and just found out I'm going to be a Grandmama in May!). However, I have so many friends who have lost children and reading this helps me understand their pain and loss even more. You are a blessing. And I do believe that you have an angel with you and your family every day and you just can't see him. Thank the Blessed Lord we have faith and know that there is a Heaven after this short life on Earth. Sending love and hugs from South Carolina. Judy Soltis

  32. Every year since you first shared the sweet story about Matthew, I have read your post over and over, cried and prayed for you and your family. I can never imagine how painful that event was. I can say that YOU, my dear, are an amazing woman! I love the way your love your boys and Honey. I look forward to each and every post to see what awesome thing you have come up with to celebrate everyday events. You are such a hero in my world! Hugs to you!!

  33. Amanda,

    This is so beautiful. I love your blog, read it often though I never comment. This post brought tears to my eyes. Such a beautiful tribute to your son Matthew gone way too soon. I love everything about your family, the way everything is a celebration of love and life. Sending lots of love and prayers to you and your family.

  34. Amanda, Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story with your readers. That is why we are so endeared toward you. I have shared your story with my best friend who struggles with the same clotting factor in her pregnancies. Much love to you, sweet girl. xox, Emily

  35. I am inspired by your blog and your lovely home. I am amazed at your energy for all the small details for your littles. Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching story. Talk about putting things into perspective. You seem like a truly genuine and lovely person. Happy Holidays to you and your adorable family. Cathy

  36. Amanda,

    I was so touched by your story about Matthew. You are such a loving and caring mom and it comes through so much in your writing. That is why you are one of my favorite bloggers. What a wonderful way to celebrate him with the way you honor each birthday.

    I too lost a child but early on in a pregnancy. I however grieve and think about that baby often. I know someday when the heavens open their doors for me a little voice will call out mommy and I will be united with the child I never knew.

    Recently I started to make bereavement blankets and hats for local hospitals. It has been a very spiritual experience for me knowing that I am bringing a gift of comfort to a family that is experiencing such overwhelming grief. I want you to know that the next bundle of sets that I deliver will be given in honor of Matthew.

    I would like to encourage your readers that have the gift of knitting or crocheting to join me in honoring Matthew and consider making a set or two for your local hospital. The stories you will hear from your local hospital coordinators will stay with you. It will probably be one of the most memorable gifts you will ever give in your lifetime.


  37. Every year I read this post, and I am grateful for it. You remind us all to treasure each and every moment. My father died on Christmas Eve when I was five, and I share with you a similar spirit of decorating and turning on lights and celebrating. I think of it as "defiant decorating." Shine the light, no matter what. I think by posting this you give other women with similar woes permission to go on, to hang the stockings and light the lights. Well done!

  38. Greetings from Melbourne. God Bless you at this memory-filled time. My first pregnancy I miscarried and then fell pregnant straight after with my (now) 12 year old son. I never found out the sex but my heart tells me she was a girl. I love your words about them never knowing anything but love. Bless.

  39. this brought tears to my eyes. Amanda, you are so strong and you have such a big heart that is just as beautiful as you are! I know your baby is looking after you in heaven. you are an incredible woman and an amazing mother- whenever i see how much you love your children and how you make things for special for them it always inspires me. you have a guardian angel and you should always take comfort in that. you are my favorite blogger- thank you for sharing this with us. your posts are always so well written and thoughtful. sending you lots of love and hugs! happy holidays! xoxo

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