Sunday, September 25, 2005

Seven Months In Heaven

And soon the minutes into long months turn,
And even with time's comfort still I yearn
To hold her once in warm embrace
And say goodbye, and yet, there is a place
I carry her still, within my heart, steadfast:
For even the briefest of memories last.

Out my bedroom window rests my gze
Through the mist of emptiness and pain's grey haze
I watch the patterns softly rearranged
And know my life, my dreams have all been changed.
My daughter's life was brief yet such
That in my emptiness I have so much.

~Song for an Empty Cradle by Clara Wilbrandt-Koenig

Some months the 25th sneaks up on me. I hardly even see it coming. This month has not been so. Sarah's been on my mind so much more. I think it's because I've hit the point in my pregnancy where Sarah was lost. And I'm thinking about how she felt in my arms, and what her feet looked like and imagining that inside of me. Only I know he is bigger. But since I follow the lives of other mothers of grief, I suppose that's also been a cause of my thinking.

One mother here told me that the decision that some mothers made not to carry their babies to term was like telling her that her decision was a waste of time, like her baby wasn't worth it. Believe it or not, I can understand that in the opposite way. Hearing that I should have carried Sarah (risk or not) was like being told that my life wasn't worth anything. Hearing that I should let "God decide" her fate was like being told I didn't have enough faith.

I didn't blame God for the HPE. But from what I could see, her fate was already decided. She would die. My choices were: let her take me with her or protect myself. My choices were: let her go now (the same way she would die in a few weeks) and experience little to no pain, or watch her die a painful death at birth. What did my faith have to do with that? Despite the decision I made, I still saw Sarah as a uniquely precious gift from God that I was blessed to know even briefly. As are all lost babies, regardless of parental decision.

I haven't discussed guilt much, as defense was so important for so long. But I think it's time. There was a lot of guilt and pain associated with the induction. The guilt ranged from the idea that maybe, just maybe, nothing would ever go wrong and I would remain in perfect health (though that option was unlikely, I will never know for sure) to the fact that I couldn't make her well. I was her mother, and I was supposed to take care of her. The only thing I was required to do before birth was provide her a place to grow and flourish. Instead she grew wrong. Why couldn't I stop that? Thankfully my church is a place to have some of that relieved. And the Sacrament of Reconciliation was wonderful for me. Still, I think I will always carry it to some extent.

I've heard the decision regarding induction called a political one. I don't see it that way. Each mother who's put in the position of deciding between horrible and terrible has to deal with the issues surrounding her specific situation all by herself. I think it's probably true that many doctors encourage termination or induction, I don't believe that they push it if there's no danger to the mother, or if the mother is morally/ethically opposed. I read one mother who wrote that she'd never met a doctor who had her best interests at heart. Somehow I doubt that. Doctors simply don't get into that field unless they want to help people. And I don't think a fatal outcome is easy for them either. They may not suffer the same way a mother or father does, but they became doctors to save lives, not to watch them end so soon. I still believe my doctors had my best interests at heart.

Some mothers seem to hold on to their anger. Even Christian mothers. But who am I to be angry with? God? No, not the One who has given me the hope of being with my Sarah again. Doctors? No. There was nothing they could do. Fate? I don't believe in fate. The world? Well, that one was tempting. In the midst of the most horrible grief I've even endured I had people telling me that I was a murderer and that I was killing my baby. I've been told that I will go to hell for my lack of repentance. I've been told that my loss wasn't significant, because I "chose" it. But my baby is dead. Regardless. My baby who should be sleeping in a sling across my chest right now is several miles away, packed under the earth. And I am entitled to be heartbroken for all the things she missed. And for all the things I missed too.

So, the grief roller coaster continues with it's ups and downs, it's highs and lows. There is sadness. But there is joy too. I can smile now when I think of the weight of her in my arms, or the feel of her skin against my lips. I suppose I really thought that the active grieving process would be over by now. But I am realizing that it is ongoing. Changing. But still there.

The cematary assured me last week that her marker hadn't been placed because of a shipping error, but that it was coming and would be in by the weekend. It's still not there. I will post pictures as soon as it's in.

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