I found a group of moms online to help me through this whole Encephalocele diagnosis. Who can better tell me what to expect and what things mean than women who've been there? But I wondered what would happen if we got a member who was looking to understand the diagnosis and prepare for or recover from the loss of a child. Especially if they chose to end the pregnancy.
For me it was like stepping back in time. From multiple issues to a risky pregnancy, it felt like someone else had stepped onto a track I'd already laid down. But this time she was coming into a group of which I was a member. Surely there wouldn't be any problem.
That wasn't the case. I've had six years to think about why this happens. I think some women believe if there's a beating heart, there's a chance. That may be true for some babies, but not for all. And the more issues you stack on it, the more distant that chance becomes.
Some women think if you don't fight tooth and nail to give your child every last second of life they can squeeze out, you're not trying hard enough. I don't believe that. I think sometimes there is just as much bravery in being able to let go and say goodbye.
Some women think that any choice different than the one they have made is an indictment of their own. As if there is only one right answer and if you think yours is right for you, you must think everyone else's is wrong. I don't believe this either. My circumstances aren't necessarily the same as someone else's. I can't judge someone else for making what they believe to be the best choice for themselves, their family, and their baby. Isn't that what we're all trying to do?
Some women just see being pro-life as a completely black and white issue where the baby's life takes priority. Again, I disagree. I consider myself pro-life (though I'm sure there are pro-lifers who wouldn't consider me part of the "cause", and I wouldn't want to be associated with them either) but I think the mother is a life too and should be considered, protected, and respected.
When someone gets a diagnosis which carries with it the very real risk of death for their child (or a certain death for their child, depending on the severity) they react differently. And they need different things. Some need to hear every miracle story. They need to hold on to every scrap of hope possible in order to put one foot in front of the other. Some need to know how to prepare for a loss they know is coming. Some need support as they go through the loss before, at, or after coming to term. But whatever they need, I want to help.
I want women to know about things like perinatal hospice. I want women to know that other people have walked the path of grief and survived. I want to offer hope and prayer to everyone who wants it whether it be for their recovery, their baby's safe delivery, surgery, miracle, whatever.
What I don't want to see is another woman attacked or made to feel like a murderer when trying to figure out how to say goodbye to a baby they love and truly want to keep forever. I guarantee you, we do grieve. And we do it hard. There's no good time or easy way to say goodbye to your baby.
Life is hard enough to figure out for ourselves. I'm ashamed that sometimes I have actually thought I had all the answers. I don't. And neither does anyone else. We women are amazingly passionate, generous, and compassionate. I hope that we continue to find ways to show that to each other even when we disagree. I know, I have ridiculously high hopes.
My prayers and thoughts tonight are with the mothers in the process of loss. And those searching for answers to the hardest of life's questions.
Believe those who are seeking the truth.
Doubt those who find it.