Zeal of Xander: Finding the Sweetness
When I was in grade school, I remember the anticipation of sitting in the circle with my legs crossed, waiting for my head to be tapped and the word GOOOOSE to be yelled out in passion. The significance of being chosen in those days was the highlight of any child’s day. As a mother today, I feel like being chosen to carry on the legacy of my son is a bit more than I can stand.
I remember being in the doctor’s office and them telling me at 21 weeks six days that I had started to dilate. My task was to go to UNC for a procedure and return home. That was not what happened. I went to UNC and was advised that the procedure was no longer an option and that I would have to birth my son and he wouldn’t survive. How unfair? How was I supposed to say hello and goodbye all at once? How was I to live without him after touching his flawless skin and kissing those perfectly shaped lips? I didn’t want the GOOSE accolade, I just wanted my Xander.
So many nights I cried. So many days I screamed. To know that I was inducted into a sorority that no one wanted an invitation to was beyond comprehension. However, to know that there are 1 in 4 women who suffer from pregnancy and infant loss is even the more heart wrenching. 1 in 4 pillows are saturated with tears. One in 4 families celebrate heavenly birthdays and not earthly birthdays. One in 4 parents grieve beyond relationship repair.
Women are losing babies, and no one knows the reason. There are no signs, there is no medication, and there seems to be no long-term plan. Women who are economically impoverished or that are considered lower economic status walk out of hospitals daily without their children because they cannot afford to bury them. There is no closure. There is no burial site. There are no urns on the mantle. The only thing left is heartbreak and disappointment.
I knew that losing my son was either going to cripple me or catapult me. I chose the latter. When sitting in that blessed and cursed hospital bed I made a decision that Xander's death would not be my death sentence. I sat with the thoughts of what I hated about the experience at the hospital. I hated that the parking attendant asked for a piece of cake when they saw my keepsake box. I hated that the head nurse of the NICU informed me that this wasn't the way to be a mother. I hated that no one called to check on me the days, weeks, and months later.
So I decided to form a nonprofit organization to bring awareness of insensitivity by professional staff. I also partnered with UNC Chapel Hill to totally redesigning their keepsake boxes. Zeal of Xander will provide a brief journal and aromatherapy aftercare box for grieving parents. In the future, we will be hosting free seminars called Chasing Honey. These sessions will discuss topics such as losing your identity, how to answer hard questions, how to grieve without feeling guilty and how to grieve in a partnership. Our organization intends on providing scholarships to cover burial expenses and funeral cost to parents that don't have the financial means.
Everyday it feels like I've been the winner of the world's worse lottery. But everyday I chase honey, and I find the sweetness in this bitter situation.
Author: Xaviera L. Bell is the Creator and Executive Director of Zeal of Xander, www.zealofxander.org