By Kristin Fitzgerald-Zita – The last thing you imagine when you head off to the hospital to have your baby is never bringing him home. As a chronic worrier I admit I did think something might happen to me during delivery, but I always believed that the healthy baby boy I was carrying was perfectly safe.
Infant loss happens to other people, after all.
Our son Thomas was born at 5:29pm on March 9, 2005 and quietly slipped away 20 hours later. He was the most beautiful human being I have ever seen. I tell people it was a birth injury to avoid having to remind myself that my body experienced a catastrophic failure that went undetected during the only 30-minute period in my almost three-day labour in which Thomas was unmonitored.
No one knew until it was too late. He was here, then he was gone. Just like that.
There is no way to explain how deep and dark the pit of grief is when you’re mourning your child. The first few weeks and months we were in pure survival mode, clinging to each other and blocking out the world that had swallowed up our dreams, our happiness and our innocence.
I hemorrhaged during the C-section and developed septicemia after, so my physical recovery was painfully slow. My husband Sandy somehow shored up his own sorrow to tend to me, making me iron-rich foods, taking me for walks, and pulling me out of the house every single day. His gentle, attentive kindness kept me anchored here. It gave me focus and strength when I felt rudderless and weak. It was Sandy’s idea to include a line in Thomas’ obituary asking people to do something kind in Thomas’ memory.
And the seed was planted.
We will never be able to celebrate the kind of milestones that other parents do, but we have this. And we’re so proud of our boy for still making such a difference in our lives and in the lives of people literally all over the world.
Now every year on Thomas’s birthday we choose to celebrate his impossibly short life by continuing to ask people to do random acts of kindness in his memory. He isn’t here to share his light, but our hope is that the world is still a little brighter every March 9 simply because he was once here. It started out small – just a shout out on Facebook asking our friends and family to consider doing something kind in his memory – and has blossomed into something much bigger, especially this year on what would have been his 10th birthday.
To date, more than 8000 people have officially signed up to participate in March 9th Random Act of Kindness Day for Thomas via our Facebook event page. Our goal for this milestone birthday was to encourage 10,000 acts of kindness, and we’re well on our way to reaching that goal, thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of friends, family and complete strangers who are diligently spreading the word and plotting their good deeds.
In some ways it’s a distraction that keeps us focused on something other than our sorrow in the weeks leading up to his birthday, but it’s also a way to keep Thomas present in our lives. We will never be able to celebrate the kind of milestones that other parents do, but we have this. And we’re so proud of our boy for still making such a difference in our lives and in the lives of people literally all over the world.
They say that each new life, no matter how brief, forever changes the world. I know this to be true because of a little boy I held in my arms for just a moment but will hold in my heart until my very last breath.
About the contributor
Kristin Fitzgerald-Zita is a freelance writer living in Oakville, Ontario with her husband Sandy. When she’s not playing with words, she’s playing with yarn, dirt, or her two cats and trying to make the most of her unplanned life.