I have experienced every mother’s worst nightmare, more than once. You are elated to be pregnant and can’t wait to see your healthy, tiny little babe on ultrasound. You stride into the docs office and wait, with bated breath, to catch a fuzzy glimpse of that black and white little miracle. Your heart soars. Until you see the doctor’s brow furrow, mouth flattening into a tight line….“I’m sorry…” they say, with an apologetic shake of the head. “There is no heartbeat”.
Your heart falters, your mind confused. You can’t process this violently unsettling information. “But we just saw her on the ultrasound last week! She was healthy, happily jumping and kicking in response to our voices! You said I could relax now! You said we were safe, and past the scary part! You said it almost never happens more than once!!” Almost never.
I KNEW WHAT TO EXPECT.
The next few hours became a blur. I knew what came next. I remembered. I’d done it already, 2 years before. My son, Wesley, was stillborn on August 18, 2015. I’d lost 3 before him, 1st-trimester losses. I knew what to expect. I sat in the sterile hospital room in somber agony, waiting to deliver my sweet little girl. Nurses moved about in muted, hushed tones trying not to disturb the palpable blanket of silence in the room.
The silence that is normally so out of place and unnatural during a birth. The silence is periodically broken by the cries of brand new babies in rooms nearby. Though they usually put loss moms at the end of the hallway, away from live births, they were busy that night. Our daughter, Amelia Rose, was born quietly, peacefully on May 30, 2018. She was placed directly in my arms. My husband and I gazed into her beautiful, still face. She was perfect. She had her big sisters’ perfect rosebud lips. A tiny little button nose just like our other daughter’s. She was perfect, and perfectly still.
We spent the next day with her. Saying hello, before we had to say goodbye…Those moments we spent with her body are precious and sacred to me. Moments that reminded and confirmed to me that the heavens are, in fact, very near. Our loved ones are not truly gone. I remember those moments with a heart full of gratitude, a silver lining during an otherwise very dark time.
THE WEIGHT OF GRIEF
There are times when the weight of grief is too heavy for me. Depression and anxiety settle over me like a misplaced blanket. I fight to find the joys of daily life that I usually relish in. I feel broken, damaged, out of place. I walk around peering into others’ faces wondering if they can see my self-perceived glaring imperfections. I wonder what silent pain they may be carrying. I feel alone. I try to find the silver linings life has to offer during these times. Bits of joy scattered through the wreckage of my broken heart. I know they are always there, some days it is just harder to find them.
SOME SILVER LININGS
The thing is, I know I am not alone in suffering. As I have chatted with various women, their stories of pregnancy and child loss, struggles with anxiety, depression, and a variety of other overwhelming life struggles inevitably come to light. We find common ground in our anguish. Time and time again I am struck by how well hidden we keep our personal struggles. But what purpose does downplaying our real-life grit and grime serve?
When we open our hearts to each other and begin sharing our struggles, it becomes beautifully obvious that many of us are grappling with similar things. The different and unique experiences that we have each walked or are walking through are shaping our lives. Molding us into the women we need to be to serve our full purpose. Creating empathetic, compassionate women of strength. And yet we feel ashamed. We feel weak. We bully ourselves into suffering silently and alone. We lose the strength and sisterhood that comes from bearing one another’s burdens and mourning with those that mourn.
I offer a suggestion. I postulate that our strength truly lies, not in our greatest talents, but in our weakness. Our raw, unrefined, struggle to become more entices us to call upon powers greater than ourselves. It leaves us vulnerable and broken. From that brokenness, beautiful things can be created! If we take a breath to stop and ponder the beauty that lies in building anew. If we lean upon one another, sharing our hearts together, we simultaneously gain and lend strength. And if we look for the silver linings among the clouds, we will undoubtedly find bits of joy to uplift and strengthen us along the way.