Last year, Mother’s Day meant escape for Renee Lawrence. She was pregnant with her third child, and her husband, Jeremy, sent her out for pedicures and pampering.
This year she wants one thing: to be with her kids.
“I don’t want a day off,” she says. “I want to spend time with my family. Maybe plant flowers with my kids. I want to give them appreciation. I don’t want presents.”
Just presence. This past year, Renee learned the importance of living in the moment and loving hard. Lucy, her third child, her littlest girl, taught her that lesson.
Last July, many months before her November due date, Lucy was born, 14 ounces and more than 11 inches long. She had her daddy’s nose. She lay on her mama’s chest. They shared one hour and 16 minutes together.
Her life was too short, but her love is still alive, teaching her family love lessons everyday.
“Lucy was born to me for a reason,” says Renee, 32, her blue eyes submerged in a pool of tears. As she stares out the window of her Shawnee home, Renee pauses.
“This world we live in has become a ‘me’ thing,” she says. “Everyone and everything is so self-serving. Lucy taught me the importance of serving others. I want to take a little bit of that and make this world we live in an ‘us’ thing.”
When I wrote about Renee last summer, she was seeking community on social media. She used Twitter as her main outlet, with a side of Facebook. It was where she detailed her pregnancy and where she would go to grieve. She started a blog:lucyslillegacy.blogspot.com
Even though online chatter was a tool for her own catharsis, it would blossom into so much more. Renee found that many women had lost their babies, but rarely did they openly communicate their grief.
“No one talks about going to the funeral home and picking up the remains of your baby,” she says. “No one talks about pre-term loss and infant mortality. But this is not a hush topic. We should be talking about it much more.”
Last week, Renee took part in the “Listen to Your Mother” show celebrating motherhood through live readings. There, in front of rows and rows of people at Unity Temple on the Plaza, she shared Lucy’s story. She gave a voice to pre-term loss.
Afterward, a woman walked up to her and said, “I also had a micro preemie.” They shared the longest of hugs, speaking volumes of support without saying another word.
“That’s why talking about it is important,” Renee says. “I used to selfishly share my story. Now I want to support everyone else’s story. What I’ve discovered in this horrible life experience is as beautiful as it can be, it is about acting 100 percent with love and awareness of life.”
No drama, no negativity is her approach. For that reason, she’s ditched Twitter in favor of Facebook and her blog, where she feels more intimacy and genuine interaction.
She and her husband have also found encouragement at their support group. They started getting the strength to try to get pregnant again, but their perinatologist suggested they go over Lucy’s autopsy report and take tests to prevent a high-risk pregnancy. The decided to hold off trying.
Little did they know they were pregnant already. Although the autopsy held no answers, Renee and her husband were proactive. By the time she was just eight weeks pregnant she’d had two sonograms, a dozen blood tests and all kinds of appointments. Six weeks ago, they reached the 24-week milestone, the point when babies are more likely to survive outside of the womb.
Renee is now seven months pregnant and finally feeling more comfortable. She smiles when she touches her belly.
Her fourth child is due July 4: Linus, little brother of Lucy.