It's been five weeks and a day since Bethany was born. I've been thinking a lot over the past few days about her, the pain I'm going through, and whether I would do it all over again.
Bethany was a big surprise. We weren't intending to try for more babies, but she came along anyway. I didn't want to feel that pain again. I didn't want to bury another child, and I don't know that I can handle two special needs kids. I was terrified from the moment I saw two lines, and even though our worst fears were eventually imagined, I'm blessed to have known her. It's easy to say now, I suppose. And I certainly wouldn't have chosen this journey. But looking extra back, I am a better person for knowing them. After Bethany's passing my faith has been renewed. I am spending more time in prayer and scripture than ever before. I have a newfound love for the rosary, something that has tended to be more tedious than enjoyable for me in the past.
I've cried, wondered why, wondered how I could be asked to do this again, wondered how I am strong enough to do this again. I grieved my early losses as well, but differently. When you hold them, see their beautiful faces, watch them take a breath, rub their cheeks and smell their hair, hold their hands and kiss their fingers, at least for me, it leads to a love more intense than the love you have when they're still in utero. The love that swells up inside you when that baby is handed to you is indescribable. To wish that away in order not to have this pain, that's also indescribable. I'm glad I wasn't given the choice.
I say all this in order to give hope to those just starting their journey. The pain of a fatal diagnosis is more intense than any pain I've ever felt. Knowing your child, this baby who is kicking, rolling, hiccuping inside of you is going to die, to mourn a child not even born, is a unique experience, and there is no joy. You physically hurt. You want to scream and cry and throw things, and probably do. You want to collapse. To crawl into bed and never get out. And you certainly feel that deep despair after their death, but I smiled through the tears at the funeral. Our babies are in the arms of Jesus! The Blessed Mother is nurturing them. They're waiting for us, to greet us. I'm so blessed to have known them and held them. The pain is intense, but so is the joy. And eventually, the pain lessens and is replaced almost a entirely with peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. If we allow it. If we choose it.