Friday, April 20, 2012

Carter Garen - Safe in the Arms of Jesus

Today I am linking up with Kelly's Korner blog for parents who have lost children.

I am in that club that no one wants to be a part of or ever imagines that they will be a part of. In early 2011, we found out we were expecting identical twins. Hardly anything about our pregnancy was easy and due to complications, the boys were born at 25 weeks. You can read the whole story here. Our Cohen weighed in at 1 lb 8 oz, and his brother Carter weighed 2 lbs. Carter was just too sick and died in our arms.

Where does one start with what it's like to lose a child? How can you ever put into words the heartbreak and devastation of saying goodbye far too soon? It is impossible to describe to someone else what it feels like to hold your baby for the last time, knowing you will never see him on earth again. I can't tell you the feelings or emotions that go with trying to memorize every detail of his sweet face, looking over impossibly tiny fingers and toes, and feeling the weight of your baby in your arms, willing him to just open his eyes. Begging God to let me wake up from the nightmare. Words like painful, heartbreaking, full of anguish, and sorrow don't even scratch the surface of what it's like.

I lost a lot of hopes and dreams with the birth of Cohen and Carter. Our pregnancy was hard, the birth of the twins was hard, having Cohen in the hospital, living in a hotel for four months, while grieving the loss of Carter was hard. Well, actually, hard doesn't even begin to describe it. I know that it was only by the grace of God that I could get out of bed every morning to go to the hospital to be with Cohen. I would trudge to the hospital day after day, wishing I was going to see both of my boys. My heart was so full of fear that I was going to lose Cohen, too. People would tell me to "have hope", and I tried as hard as I could, but my heart was hurting so deeply. I have mentioned this before, but one of my deepest hurts is that I won't get to see my babies grow up together and that Cohen won't get to have his brother.

At first, I was so angry. I wrestled with God, I questioned how he could take my son away from me and I wondered how he could let Carter die. I couldn't understand how a God who controlled the entire universe could make me live without my baby. But, through many loving family and friends, I was reminded that God is still in control. God didn't cause Carter to die, death is a result of sin in this world. That was a hard truth for me to swallow, some days it still is. I still can't say that I understand it all perfectly, I'm not sure that I ever will until I get to heaven. What I do know, is that this doesn't change who God is. He is still good. He is still here for me. God is in the joy and he is in the hurt. Because of what he has done, Carter can be with him in heaven and I have the hope of seeing him again.

But, I have also gained a lot of new hopes and dreams. I have the hope of seeing Carter again someday. I have the dream of seeing my twins reunited in heaven. I have a deeper understanding that this world is not my home. I have learned to cherish the moments that I have/had with them. Poopy diapers, late night bottles, a fussy baby, while not easy, I will take it all because it means that I get another minute with my son. I take millions of pictures and videos of Cohen and I don't regret it. I'm okay with toys scattered around the house. I love celebrating every little thing Cohen does. Do I still get tired, cranky, and ungrateful? Of course, I'm not perfect. But, the reality of not having those moments with Carter, has made me realize that I need to be thankful for everything I have, easy or hard.

Hug your kids a little tighter today. Be thankful for the gifts that they are, even on the hardest of days.

Here are a few things about losing a child that I hope can be helpful:

* Don't compare losses. Losing a child is not the same as losing your pet or your great Uncle.

* If you haven't been there, you don't get it. But thank you for supporting us and trying to understand. Most of us are thankful that you don't know what it's like

* Time doesn't heal all wounds. We will move forward, but this is not something we will ever get over.

* We are thankful to have supportive friends and family who are there when we need them to sit with, cry with, and to hold our hands

* You don't have to have the right thing to say (although there are some things that we don't want to hear). Just being there for us is enough. But thank you for wanting to help take our pain away

* We don't know what we want or need, so just come over, bring food (or leave it on the doorstep), clean our house, help with other children.

* When we hear people complaining about their children or pregnancies, it is incredibly difficult. We would give anything to have our children here with us. 

* Please send cards, they are so healing and it's nice to know that people are thinking of us, even later on when the rest of the world has moved on

* Ask about our loved ones. We are thinking about them anyway.

* And also, please know that we are thankful for everything you do to support us. Even if we don't send out thank you cards or notes. We really are grateful.


  1. I came here from Kelly's Korner & it's so hard to read these! I cannot imagine your pain, but I can/will pray for you.

  2. You dealt with this so honestly. Thank you.

    (Stopping by from Kelly's Korner.)

  3. I am so very sorry you had to say good bye to your sweet son. I said goodbye to my Jonathan 1-24-12 born sleeping. I like you have struggled but I know that God is caring me. I also have a new found realization that this is not my home and I really look forward to Heaven when all will be as it should. Saying a prayer for you now sweet mommy (((hugs)))

  4. (((hugs))) Love you guys and as always I am inspired and encouraged by the way you bravely and openly share your journey.

  5. So sorry for your loss. We lost one of our girls to TTTS as well.


  6. I'm not one who is good with words, but this post really touched me. I don't think I ever realized that Cohen and Carter were identical - for some reason, that makes me feel even sadder. There have been times when I have looked at Veronica and tried to imagine what it would have been like if she had a twin who didn't make it. I really can't imagine it. The NICU journey is hard enough without losing a child...I don't know how you did it. I'm glad your faith helps sustain you and that you have a wonderful family who supports you. Cohen is blessed to have you as his mother.

  7. Thank you for being open. It is a really great reminder to be mindful of what we say around others when maybe we are having a rough day with our kids because you never know whom has a loss. Many blessings to you and your family.

  8. Hello...I came over from Kelly's Korner and I am so sorry to hear about your sweet Carter. How devastating...I know feelings of loss very well. We lost our daughter, Ellersley Grace, in August of 2011. I will be praying for you, mama, and your family. I will pray that you will continue to see the miracles in little Cohen's life, love that name! God bless you...


  9. Thank you for sharing openly and honestly. As a Children's Minister it was great to read your tips of how to be helpful. Praising God for your miracle of Cohen and thanking Him for the hope of heaven where one day you will be reunited with your precious Carter.