the meaning behind Laughton’s name {surviving infant loss}

Monday morning, the start of a new week.  Most dread Mondays…the furthest point in the work week until the freedom of the weekend begins.

I woke up disliking this particular Monday for so many reasons other than just being faced with another work week.

For one, this past weekend, Graham and I buried Laughton and planted a tree for him on Graham’s family farm {more about this will come in a later post}.  Although I knew this moment was going to be extremely hard, I grossly underestimated how much of an impact it would have on me both emotionally and physically.

We had planned to go out the same day and plant a tree on my dad’s farm as well.  Planting that first tree was so hard that I knew I couldn’t handle doing it a second time that day.  So, we had to postpone that planting.

I had also planned on staying at my dad’s for the week {Graham was going to head back home then pick me back up next weekend}.  After the emotional disaster that followed planting the tree, on top of realizing that some of those around me {that I would have spent time with during the week} just didn’t get what I was going through….or better yet, didn’t understand why I wasn’t just “back to normal” already….I decided it would be best to go back home for the week and continue to have Graham’s comfort and support.  I cried {bawled} for a good majority of the four hour trip back and then pretty much until my head hit the pillow for the night.

Graham keeps reassuring me that someday when I think of Laughton, or look at his picture, I will smile instead of cry.  I am not sure I believe him yet.

Today, on this particular Monday morning, I {again} woke up sad and dreading the day.  Not because I had to go back to work, or because I am sad that the weekend is so far away… is just really hard trying to occupy my time and mind with something that feels meaningful, especially after the weekend I had.

Then, I called my endocrinologist’s office {it is time for my TSH check} and couldn’t believe the nurse had given me something to do today that will {hopefully} make me smile a little when thinking of Laughton.

When she asked me how we came up with his name, as she had never heard it before {yet thought it was very pretty}, I found myself smiling as I told her the story.  So, I thought what better way to occupy my day than to tell all of you the story as well.

Graham and I decided on the name Laughton {for a boy} all the way back in 2010.  Yes, we kept it a secret for four years!

In 2010, we went on a family vacation with his parents, siblings, and a couple of cousins.  We headed out on an Alaskan cruise.  Little did our travel mates know that Graham and I were trying to get pregnant during this time and had been trying for about 8 months.  All of these stressors combined had really started to take a toll on the two of us….and a toll on our relationship.

That was until the day we went on our Alaskan hike.  The cruise ship was docked for the day in Skagway, Alaska and Graham and I had signed ourselves up to go on a seven mile hike to a glacier.  We met our tour guides, including one that called himself Whitey, and set out on adventure that completely changed our thought process and perspectives.

As we hiked out into the forest, slowly increasing our elevation as we headed towards the glacier, we learned a little more about the life of Whitey.  He had lived quite a while in Skagway and made his living during the summer months hiking with cruising tourists each day.  During the winter, he would take his dog and they would hike out to a remote cabin {way further than where we were hiking to} and live peacefully among nature for a good majority of the season.  It was really eye opening to hear of how he lived, how he viewed the land, and how he viewed life.

And then it happened.

We turned a corner on the hiking path and were face to face with this mammoth glacier.  Although I expected a white mass of ice, the glacier was a beautiful, bright {almost glowing} blue.  Whitey said we were really lucky that day since the overcast was causing the glacier to appear bluer than he had ever seen.  We hiked right up onto the glacier, ate lunch while sipping hot cider, and listened to more stories from Whitey.

At the Laughton Glacier in Skagway Alaska #alaska #hiking #glacier
Graham and I in front of the glacier

It was unbelievable to think that for years and years this glacier has existed and that slowly {very slowly} was moving along its own life path.  It worked very hard each year to MAYBE move along an inch or two.  Some years, because of global warming and other weather elements, the glacier would melt so much its footing actually resulted in a decrease in movement forward.

However, this glacier kept moving along {and worked really hard to do so}, despite anything thrown its way.

The combination of Whitey’s stories and the massiveness of this glacier really opened our eyes.  It was literally breathtaking.  With everything combined, in that moment, Graham and I realized that our problems {not being able to get pregnant} were so small and that we were missing out on our lives together.

That moment, that hike, {especially} that glacier, changed our perspective.  Changed our life.  Strengthened our relationship.

We had just visited the Laughton Glacier.

From that point on, we knew we would name our first son after that experience and after what that glacier hike did for us.  It is unbelievable how that one moment in our lives has gotten us through the {very tough} past four years.  Somehow, with what was given to us on our adventure that day, we have been able to grow closer and stronger despite what has been thrown our way.  And as we continue on now, we not only have that moment to help guide us, we have our angel Laughton watching over us.

Laughton #survivinginfantloss
Graham holding Laughton…..and Laughton showing off his full head of hair {explaining my severe heartburn during pregnancy}.  This picture was taken by Kathleen Martens of Treasured Moments Photography.  She is a volunteer photographer for the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Organization.  We will treasure these photos forever!

A few days after Laughton had passed, I expressed to Graham that I wanted to get away with him.  Take a trip together to rejuvenate our spirits.  For a brief moment we thought about traveling right back to Skagway and the glacier.  But I wasn’t sure I could face it….face such strong meaning.  So, we have decided to save that trip for the future when we do {hopefully} have more children and we can take them there to visit their big brother.

We did decide, however, to take another Laughton-esque trip and will be road tripping to, then camping out at, the Grand Canyon.  We are hoping it will be another overwhelmingly, eye opening trip.  One that helps us center our perspective again.  This time, however, we will not have Whitey as a guide, but rather Laughton.

P.S. {Although there were some tears shed while writing this post, I did indeed smile.  So, thank you for letting me share this story}

Not following the story?  Read past posts that take you through our journey surviving the loss of our infant son, Laughton.

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  1. Amir Stegera says

    Jen — what a beautiful post. I read it through, even though I had heard Graham tell the story at Laughtons memorial service. It was beautiful then, and it’s even more so now. Thank you for sharing this.

    I’ve been thinking of and praying for you daily and will continue to do so.

    Love and hugs…


  2. says

    Wow. I shed a few tears too, but that’s an awesome reason for the name behind your little angel. I’m so sorry for your loss. I will be sharing this on our facebook page, since I think that it is SO important for people to truly learn to grieve for their babies- having memorials (like your tree), and naming those babies. I’m praying right now that God will truly place His arms of comfort around you.
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  3. says

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    As I read your description of the glacier, I could see it in terms of your life continuing forward from this point. You may struggle and fight for every inch, just like that glacier; some days you may seem to lose more than you’ve gained – but you will move forward. And remember, that as a glacier advances, it keeps inside of it everything that it passes over – nothing is lost, it’s all kept there in the heart of the glacier. What a beautiful way to think of the memories of your little Laughton.
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