Some of my emotions through these past 8 days have been expected, and some have come as quite a surprise. After the funeral on Monday I actually felt some sort of relief. That was completely unexpected. I had wondered if I was even going to be able to keep it together long enough to finish Mass, and surely if I did, I would lose it at the cemetery. Somehow I managed to be both present in the moment AND not a complete emotional mess. Much of it was the preparation, I am sure. But some was relief, peace. I had spent the last 6 months in this strange dichotomy. I enjoyed the time I was pregnant. I had an easy pregnancy, loved having Peter in there, and basically didn't want it to end. But on the other hand I had this feeling like every day was one day closer to the worst day of my life. And I was actually getting through the worst day of my life intact. Maybe I would be OK after all?
There was a joy and peace that we experienced, however, that I would not expect the vast majority of parents to feel when they lose a child. Peter my not have been able to see us or hear us. He was, for lack of a better word, imperfect. But in heaven, he CAN see us and hear us. He IS perfect! He can pray for us. He will never know suffering. He will be happy for all eternity. THAT brings me joy.
But then Tuesday rolled around. It was all over. It was just me, an empty womb, and my tears. The roller coaster began. As I expected, all I wanted to do way crawl into bed, ignore everyone, and cry.
My milk began to come in on Monday night, and by Tuesday my breasts were very full. That led to yet another surprising reaction. I expected the milk coming in to be the final kick in the gut that would send me over the edge. But I found joy even in that. I'd missed having milk in my breasts, the scent of the milk, knowing my body made something just for that special little boy. It's just one more way Peter has been a blessing in my life, and I'm not ready to say goodbye to what feels like the last bit of Peter I have left.
So many people have told me that I am so brave, so courageous. I don't feel brave. I still have moments where I completely break down. I've had days over the last six months where I lose my temper with the girls simply because I am so depressed at what was to come, where all I wanted to do was lay in bed, where I would lay in the floor and scream and cry, where the pain was so palpable it was truly physical. But I feel like I did what any mother would do. And then I was reminded that no, only a very small percent, about 5%, of mothers facing this diagnosis choose this path. I personally think choosing the time and place of my baby's death would be much harder than allowing the pregnancy to continue naturally. I couldn't have done anything differently. I do strongly believe, however, that women need to take their time when given a severe prenatal diagnosis. Even with my strong pro-life beliefs and strong faith, my head was spinning after diagnosis. I knew I would carry him, but I didn't know how long. Would I need to induce early to avoid the possibility of a c-section? Would that even be morally acceptible? Would he be suffering? It was a good two or three days before I could stop crying long enough to really think about anything in a rational manner. That's why it breaks my heart when I hear about a woman having an abortion very soon after a diagnosis. How could that decision have been made rationally? Too many women regret that quickly made decision. I've never heard of ONE women who regrets giving her baby time, giving him life by carrying him to term. But there are all too many who wished they'd carried their babies to term.
I give God the credit for my positive attitude these past 6 months. It has been a true joy to know Peter. I am so blessed to have had so many people praying for us that I just KNOW it was God's grace that brought us through. Steve and I both feel so truly blessed to have known Peter. I won't pretend that I wouldn't have preferred he lived and be healthy, but I wouldn't have changed this situation if it meant never knowing Peter. We are better people for this experience. I had the pleasure of growing one of God's precious children in my womb for 9 months, and then delivering him to the arms of the Lord. What a beautiful, glorious way to suffer for the glory of God and the joy of my son.