There You Are: Afton’s Story, Part One

This post is part of a ten-post series I’m sharing about the life and loss of our son, Afton. Click here to read more of Afton’s story.

Afton's Story

Wow. It’s been a whole lifetime since we last met here.

Words are hard to come by, but also not. Maybe they’re hard to come by because there are so many – does that even make sense? I don’t trust my grief brain these days.

Right now, my writing life has one Big Question: how do I tell Afton’s story? how do I document every critical moment, every raw emotion? how do I do his short, precious life justice? It’s so long and wide and deep – the thought of writing it all out feels motivating and important and completely overwhelming.

I have a vision that someday I will get his birth and his life all written out in one chronological piece. Someday.

But for today, for the next ten days, actually, I’d love to invite you into some of the small stories. They tell about the beautiful smaller moments, and I think, even though incomplete in their scope, they are where a lot of the magic lives. They are the stories within The Story.

Recipes will come back – I can feel it in my bones. Somewhere deep down, I want them to come back. But I am forever changed, and this telling of Afton’s story is one of the ways that the blog is reflecting my newness. With that, I’m excited to introduce you to a ten-part series that I will be publishing over the next 2-ish weeks – I’m calling it Afton’s Story.

Thank you for being here. Honestly, THANK YOU. You are lighting our way.

Here’s Afton’s Story, Part One.


Our 6 days in the hospital held a lifetime of trauma. The shift from “things are getting better” to “we need to move to an emergency c-section.” The decision to resuscitate. The hopeful sound of two meowing cries as he was born – the only sounds I’ll ever hear him make. The joy for having an otherwise healthy baby, and the desperation for him being born at 23 weeks.

The 2am call that our baby was struggling. The dark walk to the NICU, me in a wheelchair, wrapped in hospital bedsheets and shaking uncontrollably, and a terrified Bjork pushing me through deserted hospital hallways. The panic as we rounded the corner and saw room 44 overflowing with doctors and nurses and medical equipment. The sharp, stabbing realization that things were not going to be okay. That this was both the beginning and the end.

In all the darkness, there is one moment of clarity that feels bright and divine, and I am clinging to the memory of it like a lifeline: the moment they laid my beautiful, perfectly formed, 1lb 3oz sweet Afton on my chest.

His skin on my skin. My baby, warm and tiny. I felt his heart beating right over my own heart, I touched his delicate new skin, but even beyond the physical realm, I felt something lock – solidly lock – into place inside me, in my heart. It was beyond description. The physical and emotional feelings were SO BIG and so real. In that split second, with the two of us touching heartbeats for the very first time, my world clicked into place. It was my heart fully realizing, 12 hours after the c-section: yes, there you are. My baby. 

I stopped shaking. I became calm. I felt a literal rush of love. I was able to whisper to him without crying. All this, even in knowing that we would be saying goodbye to our baby in our very next breath. It was the most profoundly beautiful and hard moment of my life.

It has been 25 days since that moment, and things have quieted down, which is both welcome and scary. I cuddle Sage, I laugh at a text message, and then in the next minute I feel so sure that a part of me has died and I wonder if it might never come back. It gets literally hard to breathe.

There are no easy answers, no cliche comforting phrases, no silver linings that could make this all okay.

But I am holding so fast to the hope that someday I will have him in my arms again, feeling his heart beating against my chest, in perfect peace and wholeness. 

It’s one of the most powerful and unexpected things Afton could have ever given me: freedom from fear of death.

Afton's Story
I’m sharing more about life with and after Afton on my personal Instagram account. I’d love to have you follow along here.

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133 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh my, why am I reading it over again and again? And I do, from Instagram to here. I’m with you and so so many of us since the beginning… I’m grieving with you, admiring you and praying for you. You are forever changed and that’s your normal and this is your story. It’s overwhelming. You are wonderful people, working through what’s unfathomable. Take all the time you need, we’ll all be here, waiting, cheering, praying. God bless you, all your family. ♡ Love, from the other side of the world.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kathryn

    Thank you so much, Lindsay, for sharing your story. It is breathtaking. With love, Kathy

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Peta trendall

    Your words are so beautiful, so heartbreaking. I love the way you are honouring Afton’s memory and feel privileged that you are sharing your story with us your readers.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I wish there was something I could say to you that actually does justice to your pain and everything else you’re feeling right now… Your story is heartbreaking! *hugs*

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thank you for sharing, as always. Your story stills my heart. Beautifully written and such a stunning and powerful message. I look forward to future posts although I hope it doesn’t hurt too much to write and share them. I still think of you and Bjork and Afton every day and stop back here to see how you’re doing. My mom still says her rosary for your sweet family. Keeping you guys in our prayers <3

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    JC

    Don’t stop, don’t change — keep wearing your authenticity, however complicated and replete with so much joy, pain and pride, full on front and center. Your Sweet Afton is teaching US something, he is lighting OUR way. The rest will return, no rush. When it does, we’ll be ready and waiting. Big hugs, lots of love and all the patience in the world.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Beverly

      I so agree with JC – we will be here. Thank you for being authentic and vulnerable. Continued prayers for you and Bjork. We are here for you and will be waiting for you when you are ready. Thank you for sharing Afton’s story.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Beverly Bielewicz

    The tears roll down my cheeks as I read your story. Thank you for sharing. Keeping you and your family in my heart and prayers. Spending the morning with a friend who lost her son last year. In her I have witnessed deep grief and profound love. May you be supported by those who hold space for you and love you.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Cristina

    Thank you for sharing Afton’s precious story. In that heartbeat together, you so well painted the encompassable love of mother and child, and while it is so unbearable what you are going through, I am in awe of your strenght and depth to show us the amazing beauty that can sparkle even in the direst moment of life and death. All my thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    karen

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words, as heartbreaking as they are. You both are forever changed, but will, in time, develop your “new normal.” Your lives will go on and your sweet Afton will forever look over you as a bright shining star in the heavens.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Julie

    As a reader I feel so honored that you would share your special story with us. I still think about you all every day and send prayers and love your way.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh, Lindsay. I have felt the pain of loss. I know beyond shadow of a doubt that your Afton is in heaven right now, probably wrestling with my little man. God is so, SO very good, through it all. Keep writing. Keep feeling. Accept each day as a part of the process, & whatever else you do: never stop loving. Loving Afton, loving Bjork… loving the blessings God may send you. Know that I am praying for you.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Mary

    This is so beautiful and heartbreaking, and reminds me that God is faithful in filling even in the biggest cracks in our hearts with grace. Thank you for sharing your sweet Afton’s story. <3

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Amy

    Sending love your way and praying for comfort for you both during this difficult time. Hugs from NC.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Krissy

    Wow! Your words- so powerful and meaningful. I obviously love your site for the recipes but I love this too. Because life is complicated and sometimes very hard and it is important to talk about that too. Thank you for sharing this and I hope by me reading it that somehow and in someway I am honoring Afton’s life too. God Bless. And I’ll continue to keep you in prayer.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Avy

    There are no words really. I just wanted to offer an e-hug. I hope you and Bjork can take turns being strong for each other and just sharing all the love you need.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Isn’t it just amazing, the love a mother has for a child? I can think of nothing more powerful on earth. I have no cliche words of comfort, only know that His ways are always good. I know you listen to Lauren Daigle too and “Trust in You” wow. Those lyrics. 4 years of infertility and God did end of giving me a baby. And I have a NICU baby too that nearly did not make it but He uses the bad for good. Just remember that in your dark places. You’ll never be the same and eventually, you won’t want to be. I went through a very similar experience as you and God gave me such love for people through it and now am stronger. Sharper. Better for it. Constant prayers and hugs your way!!!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This –> It’s one of the most powerful things Afton could have ever given me: freedom from fear of death.

    Powerful words. God Breathed. Thank you sweet Afton. Thank you LIndsay. Thank you GOD. Thank you Bjork. <3

    Praying for continued peace and healing.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lacey deShazo

    I lost my 20 year old sister last year and can totally identify with your feeling that you don’t fear death anymore. I can’t imagine losing a child…it’s almost as if nothing can ever hurt you again because this hurt is so overwhelming. I’m praying for you guys.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Lacey, I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister. So much hope for a reunion where we are all whole and healed in every way, with moms and babies, sisters, families complete. ❤️ Thank you.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Susan

    Crying with you, Lindsay. It does change you forever, I know this. Don’t deny yourself any feeling. Love to you.