my speaking opportunity on monday went way better than i thought it would. i am not a natural public speaker at all and i usually shy away from such things. in fact, the thought of speaking to a large group nauseates me. there is only one thing worse...skit night. if you have been on a church retreat of any kind, you know what i'm talking about. i would rather slam my finger in a car door than participate. but i knew that monday's opportunity was something that i should do, even thought i knew it would be hard for me, especially emotionally.
on the panel, it was myself, another mom and a grandmother taking turns speaking about our experiences of loss to a room full of nurses, chaplains, and social workers who were there for training on grief. my sweet friend lindsey came with me since greg couldn't make it. she had participated on the panel last year and added a few helpful suggestions as well.
our stories provided four unique perspectives on the loss of a baby.
there was a mom struggling with infertility and miscarriages.
the grandmother lost her grandson unexpectedly just 6 hours after he was born to an undiagnosed heart defect.
lindsey lost her precious gabrielle at 22 weeks.
and then there's me, who prepared for months for the death of my baby.
even though our stories were very different, i was reminded that any experience of loss, whether it was a 6 week old pregnancy or a full term baby, is totally and completely devastating whether its expected or not. i confess that i tend to minimize my loss with jonathan when i compare it to someone who unexpectedly loses a full-term baby. and on the other hand, it was mentioned that sometimes people downplay miscarriages because the baby is so small and undeveloped, or that the baby hasn't hit that magic number of 20+ weeks. too many of my friends understand from experience that there is suffering even in the earliest of losses because the bond between mother and baby begins immediately.
as you know, statistically speaking, jonathan should have been a miscarriage. i used to think that that would have been easier to deal with rather than meeting him and then having to say "goodbye" just 40 minutes after saying "hello."
last week, a dear friend who is familiar with this sort of loss said something to me that really helped me to look at my loss through different eyes. she said that she actually felt a little jealous that i got to meet my baby before he died. you see, my friend did not have that option. because i know my friend's heart, i know she said what she did to encourage me and to help me find even more good in my circumstances. until that point, i had only thought of my loss from my own perspective and not from someone who had experienced something similar.
it made me realize that knowing even the most basic things about jonathan was a blessing and has greatly contributed to our memories of him that i would not have had he not survived as long as he did. like being able to know his gender and to name him. to feel him move and kick. to indulge his food cravings. to know his habits, such as his waking and sleeping patterns. to bond with him.
i know plenty of people who, if given the option, would take a miscarriage over enduring a lengthy pregnancy destined to end in death. i can't say i blame them. but now, i've come to realize that i had the incomparable blessing of being able to meet jonathan. to hold him. to watch him open an eye. to feel his heart beat. to kiss him. to tell him i love him. and to let him go when it was time.
and i wouldn't trade it for a minute.
so back to monday. yet again, God was faithful. thanks for praying for me! i was very comfortable speaking about my experience and about jonathan. there were a few tears here and there, but seriously, can you blame me? it was so, so good to talk about him. healing, in fact. the best part was getting to talk about what a blessing he was and continues to be to us. sometimes, i just can't get over how crazy that sounds. not ever in my wildest dreams did i think i would be boasting about the wonderful blessing of carrying a baby so sick that he died 40 minutes after he was born. i'm sure it sounds completely preposterous to some people. i tell you, only God can turn something so terribly devastating into something to be thankful for. it's at times when i'm starting to feel down about what i've gone through that He shows me i actually had it pretty good. and only He can make me realize something like that.
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness" ~Psalm 30:11