Today should have been my baby shower. If all had gone according to plan, I would have been getting ready right now. But instead of preparing to celebrate new life, I'm writing this, grief-stricken.
After weeks of not knowing the date or day of the week, last night my brain collected itself enough to realize what was supposed to happen today. I fell asleep feeling heavy, beaten, expecting to feel even worse in the morning.
But I didn't feel worse. I felt, impossibly, better.
Perhaps I don't actually feel better. In fact, I'm pretty sure -- I won't feel "better," permanently, for a long, long while.
But still, I felt less sad, less overwhelmed when I woke this morning. Maybe I have simply come to the end of the extent of emotions that I can feel. Maybe I will feel worse tomorrow. But I am grateful for today's respite.
Especially because of what today was supposed to be.
As awful as the reality is -- my only child, my daughter, is dead before she was born -- everyday I feel more grateful for the many mercies I have experienced she she died. The more I read of other women's stillbirth stories, the more reasons I have for saying thank you to God.
Because my labor was short and easy, and my delivery consisted of three pushes. Some babylost women push for hours. That might have broken me.
Because from the instant that we shared our awful news, we were surrounded by loved ones and prayer and love. Because so many people, friends and strangers alike, continue to mourn with us, to ask after us, to encourage us to feel the pain so that we can all walk through it together. Many babylost mothers mourn alone, abandoned in their sorrow.
Because my physical healing was fast, practically instant from how little my body was affected. Some babylost women bleed and bleed and retain their pregnant bellies for weeks, forced to questions of "When is the baby due?"
Because my husband (truly, the Best Husband Ever), encourages me to tell him what I feel, to cry in his arms, to take the time I need to heal. I imagine that many women are rushed along by their partners, impatient for these mothers to "get over it."
Because God really is a God of peace and hope, peace and hope that have stayed with me from the hospital to our daughter's memorial to this very moment. Other babylost parents are imprisoned by despair and hopelessness, unable to heal.
I have so much to be thankful for.
Today was supposed to be my baby shower. I expected to be lost in sadness right now.
But instead I am miraculously lost in gratitude. Because my friends remembered what today was supposed to be, and loved me through it. Because my friends don't shy away from this scary and awful thing, but invite me to share. Because they are brokenhearted with me. Because what should have been a nightmare is a beautiful love story of community and grace and God. Because they are not afraid to hope with me.
And I am hopeful. Not because I know what the future will bring -- more loss? infertility? worse? -- but because that I know I will not experience it alone.
Although today was supposed to be my baby shower, I do feel impossibly, miraculously showered in the love and hope and grace of the people walking through this with me.