June 2022: Honoring Junior Lee Roney
Walking Beside Me
Journey to Motherhood
The journey to motherhood is not what my innocent youth would have imagined: marry young,
have three kids by 30, and raise those kids alongside a loving husband in the country.
Instead, my husband and I met, fell in love, and waited to marry for 7.5 years, in October of
2014. I was 33 when we married, he was 41. Currently, we don't live in the country, and the rest
of my story here will detail my journey to motherhood.
My husband and I started dating in 2007, however step-mother status took a bit of precedence, and I became full fledged in 2011. One month my step-son moved in, and the next, my oldest step-daughter had a baby girl. I was 30 years old and up to the challenge. Then in early 2015, not six months after my husband and I married, my step-son moved out, however my youngest
step-daughter moved in. Two months later, we welcomed a second granddaughter.
My step-mother and grandmother role made me contemplate if I wanted biological children as
my husband wasn't ready to start over, and being a mother at my age would certainly upset the
apple cart! After a particularly trying time for my youngest step-daughter, I decided life is too
short to not follow your dreams. That was June 2016. I received news that my oldest
step-daughter was pregnant with her third child in December 2017. Honestly, I was so upset. I
was upset because it seemed so easy for her to become pregnant again but I hadn't been able
to after 18 months of trying. Well? That didn't last long, because a week later, I found out I was
pregnant! My step-daughter was due two weeks to-the-day before me.
Two Harsh Words...Fetal Demise
Because of my age at the time (37), I was offered genetic testing and of course labeled
"advanced maternal age." I feel the doctor didn't give me proper information, or I wasn't
understanding the information regarding genetic testing. I declined any extra testing. At 21
weeks, I found out I was having a boy! I was so happy. At the anatomy scan, I also was told my
son had a two vessel umbilical cord instead of three, which would require monthly ultrasounds
from then until his birth. I didn't worry as my nephew was a healthy one-year-old that was
diagnosed with the same condition, and I was looking forward to more glimpses of my son,
which the ultrasounds would provide.
During my entire pregnancy, I tried my best to keep my anxiety under control and trust my body,
and the process. An example of this is not reading anything about being pregnant and not
asking too many questions of my doctor. I trusted he would tell me anything I needed to know.
One way I identify myself is by my career, and I was out to prove to everyone that I could do my
job to the fullest, even pregnant. I had a very hard time asking for help...and still struggle.
At my 29 week ultrasound, my son wasn't moving for the technician. We brushed it off as he
was sleeping, because his heartbeat was strong. Immediately after that appointment, I walked
across the hall for the appointment with my OB. I specifically remember him asking me if my son
was moving enough, and even though I had no idea what "enough" was, I shyly said yes. That
was a Thursday. The last time I felt my son move (which was only once a day), was the
following Sunday. I was very uncomfortable Monday, and by Tuesday, my belly was "deflated."
A quick trip to the clinic on that Tuesday confirmed "fetal demise," no heartbeat. Fetal demise are
the harshest words an expecting parent will ever hear or read. It still brings tears to my eyes and
a lump in my throat. I was given the option to go home and wait for labor, which could take up to
two weeks, or be admitted to the hospital and induced. I could not imagine just waiting for
something to happen at home. Oddly enough, I was excited to meet my son and couldn't wait to
hold him in my arms. I was admitted to the hospital June 5th, and he was born in the early
morning on June 8th, 2018. I named him Junior Lee Roney. Junior, for that was his nickname,
even before he was confirmed a boy and Lee is a family name on my husband's side. My third
granddaughter was born a month and a half later, healthy.
My Son is Always Walking Beside Me
Since you've read this far, I will now explain the meaning behind the title of my story. My son
was laid to rest on June 10th. That morning it had been raining and I woke up to a beautiful
yellow sky. From that moment forward, I identify him with the color yellow, specifically yellow
hearts. My cousin is able to communicate with our family that have passed. On the way to the
hospital to deliver my son, she had contact with our grandparents who said they couldn't wait to
meet him and would hold him tight. Several times after that she connected with them to see my
grandmother with a yellow blanket. My grandmother would often refer to him, but not by name.
I struggled so much after the loss of my son. I kept myself busy and concentrated on trying to
have another baby. Empty arms is an awful feeling. In the dark and stillness of winter
2018/2019, I found a woman who had classes for bereaved mothers entitled "Mothering Your
Heart". I did the weekly exercises which really dug deep into my grief and helped me
communicate my feelings. During this same time, my mother had broken her hip and I struggled
to be the daughter I was before the loss of my son. Previous to losing my son, I helped my
family care for her in her lengthy battle with Alzheimer's. I was reliable and confident. After the
loss, I struggled to keep up my role as a loving daughter. She was placed in memory care in
Big changes happened in 2019. I changed doctors and sought out fertility treatments. I
continued to struggle with anxiety and depression. It took four specialists to finally prescribe the
correct medication for me to help me get through everyday. I started listening to an audiobook
by my favorite comedian. She had written about how through meditation, counseling and
reading a medium's book (Laura Lynn Johnson's), she had learned how to address the loss of
her brother when she was young, as well as connect to other loved ones that had passed. It
was at this moment in my life I realized that I could communicate with my son. And if I could
communicate with my son, I may not need another baby in my arms. I write this with tears in my
eyes, but this was the point where I let go and knew I would be ok, because my son is always
walking beside me.
While coming to the realization that my son is always walking beside me, I also ceased fertility
treatments because I was having some terrible side effects, but yet still not getting pregnant.
Within weeks, (early November 2019) to my shock and horror I was pregnant. Some of the
worst things that happen to a person after loss revolves around children. The loss community
calls babies that are born before loss sunshines, and babies that are born after loss rainbows. Being pregnant with my daughter was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life to date. There is no innocent pregnancy after loss. My daughter was healthy and the pregnancy went well even with extra monitoring. However, in late April 2020, my mother was hospitalized and subsequently put in hospice. My son "whispered" to me during this time, pushing me to visit my Mom. I was 7
months pregnant when my mother passed away. My daughter, my rainbow, was born two months
and two days after the loss of my mother.
I did not process the loss of my mother right away because I was just trying to keep my
daughter alive. It was October 2020 when my grief hit me hard. I let myself grieve not only the
loss of my mother, but my son all over again. Again, I write this with tears in my eyes because
the loss is still very fresh and very raw. You are reading this right after the second and fourth anniversaries of my major losses.
My daughter will be two in July, and since her birth, my grandson was born. Oftentimes my
daughter will do something and I'll ask her if it was brother telling her to do that! We just always
wish that he was here with her, getting into trouble and playing together as brother and sister.
The only hope and comfort I have is that my cousin still sees my son and mother together. My
mother gets to be "well" and the grandmother we always thought she'd be on earth. My son still
shows himself to me with yellow and my mom with the color blue and cardinals.
I hope you always feel your loved ones walking beside you whether here on earth or spiritually.
Submitted with love by Lisa Wheelock-Roney - Junior's mom