A few months back, I came across a blog called Wanted, Chosen, Planned. When I started reading a few of the posts, I realised that Alexis lives locally to me. I sent her an email, and since then she came back to me about sharing our stories with each others’ readers. I thought it was a brilliant idea.
My name is Alexis Marie Chute and I am very thankful to be a guest blogger on The Stars Apart.
My greatest joy is my children. Every one of my kids was a planned pregnancy and they are all deeply wanted and loved. I am a mother of three; two children in my arms and one in my heart.
When my daughter, my firstborn, was almost a year old, my husband and I learned that our next child, the one rounding out my stomach and kicking me in the ribs, had a large tumor around his little heart. The news was devastating.
“We will get through this,” my husband and I had said.
We did get through it, yet not in the way we had planned or had hoped.
After the diagnosis of a rare genetic condition we publically announced our son’s name, Zachary. By naming him we claimed him; Zach was a part of our family, a baby not just tissue and bone and a failing heart. He was 25 weeks gestation at that time.
We did what we could do, which was not much. The tumor squeezed Zach’s heart so that its beat was that of a fit adult at rest, not the usual 150 BPM of a baby in uttero. “Can you cut the tumor off?” we asked the doctors but the answer was no. The mass around our son’s heart, which glowed white in ultrasound images, was too large, too tightly fitted that surgery would leave Zach’s heart shred along with the tumor.
At 30 weeks, despite predictions that our baby would be stillborn, Zach was born alive and lived a few moments in my arms. Beneath a sea of my kisses he passed as quickly from this life as he had entered it. Our daughter came to the hospital and laid a kind yet unaware hand on her brother before he was collected by a funeral home worker. That was the last time we saw our little Zach.
One of the greatest struggles with the loss of a child is the accompanied loss of a future. I had planned the life I wanted and the vision was clear and defined. I imagined my children close in age and (hopefully) good friends, we’d take family vacations to Disneyland and camp under the stars. We would play board games together and cuddle beneath warm blankets watching movies, reading books and telling good night stories. I had pictured a whole lifetime of experience for Zachary and our family.
After Zach’s death I entered what I call my “Year of Distraction” where I filled my life with busyness to avoid my grief. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my third child that I realized I had better address my sorrow if I am to be the parent I want for my next baby, not to mention my daughter. This began a journey of healing which I write about in my memoir, “Expecting Sunshine” and on my blog “Wanted, Chosen, Planned.”
As a professional visual artist, photographer and writer, I discovered a path to healing by returning to my passions. Writing about my experience was extremely helpful and making visual art allowed me to express the wordless emotions. I encourage anyone who is struggling with any challenge to use creativity in their healing.
When my third child was born, just over a year ago, I thankfully found myself in a place of surrender to life’s unplanned nature and at peace with my new trajectory. Since I couldn’t change my experience, I have chosen to open my life and encourage others. This is my new plan yet it is a flexible one as I have learned the value of taking things one day at a time.
-Alexis Marie Chute