It’s hard for me to understand why tragic events happen. Especially when it comes to mothers who lose a child. To me, there’s no greater strength than a grieving mother who wakes up each day and decides to move forward. I know from personal experience the depth of this despair, and how easily the grief can swallow you whole.
At 20 weeks, doctors diagnosed my sweet baby girl Audrina with Thanophoric Dysplasia. The condition meant she would die within minutes upon birth. I carried her with only one hope: that I could have at least one moment to look her deeply in the eyes and tell her how much I love her before saying goodbye. Sadly, at 37 weeks, I experienced a rare uterine rupture that nearly took my life. Audrina was born sleeping and I became a mother with a hole in my heart. Doctors were able to save my uterus, but I felt little hope that I would have another baby.
Part of me felt like I would be somewhat restored or healed by having another child, but I didn’t want to have any expectations. I had already been let down more than I could handle. Doctors told me to wait 18 months before trying to conceive. They explained how it would allow the very large tear in my uterus to fully heal before another pregnancy. So I decided to keep moving forward and held onto hope that I would become a mother again at some point. The weight of my grief was heavy. The absence of Audrina left an emptiness in my heart that could never be filled. Not by food, by wine or shopping, or anything else that used to make me happy. My joy was little and fleeting. All I wanted was her back in my arms.
“Even those who never fully blossom bring beauty into the world.”
~ Author Unknown
18 months passed by. It was early one morning in the middle of July, when I discovered I was pregnant again! Summer was in full swing, yet I woke up feeling the magic of Christmas in my heart. All the same wondrous feelings I had as a child came flooding back. After trudging through 2 years of dark nothingness, it was as if someone had flipped a switch and I could feel again. It was the most magical experience I’ve ever had in my life; there was joy, love, peace, hope and wonder. I paced my living room floor with a thousand volts of electric happiness leaping through my entire body. My heart danced around the room in pure bliss. I was in an extreme state of shock and questioned whether someone needed to pinch me. “This can’t be real,” I thought. It felt like a dream, even more magical than winning a billion dollar Powerball ticket.
My happy train started fizzling out when I hit the second trimester. The more my belly grew, the more I worried about having my uterus tear. I was high risk for re-rupture, and the fear and crippling anxiety was agonizing. The thought of losing my life was scary, but the thought of losing another child was absolutely terrifying. I worried about how my husband and first-born son would go on living without me. Post-traumatic stress brought on many panic attacks where I thought the end was near. However, all the fear, stress and anxiety washed away the moment my rainbow son was born.
I will never forget the day Aidan was born. I finally had my special moment, where time stood completely still. They placed my sweet Aidan Joe on my chest and I locked eyes on him. I couldn’t turn my head away, not even for a second. I just stared at him for what felt like eternity. I cried out in happiness, as I stared at perfection. He was absolutely beautiful and there was a life force beaming inside my little bundle of joy. I felt my heart swell with love, it filled up and was ready to burst with gratitude. I held him in my arms and a sense of peace washed over me. My restless heart could finally relax. Thank you, God!
I’m forever grateful. I will never cry out desperately for anything else for the rest of my life. He’s a promise fulfilled, a prayer received and I finally feel somewhat complete. I have all I’ll ever need right here in my arms. My heart will forever hum with praise, thank you, thank you, thank you. My heart swells with joy and sings a melody of gratitude. I now know that nothing in life is ever guaranteed and I don’t take a single day for granted. Every day I have with Aidan is a blessing.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure, my grief has transformed me into a resilient person. I’ve become more compassionate and I feel emotions more intensely. I’ve come to find myself stronger and more equipped to serve others walking along the same jagged path I’ve crossed. It’s in these moments, I thank God for my hardship because I know my suffering serves a greater purpose. Without rain, there would be no rainbow.
The hardest part for me was learning to accept life’s challenges. I now believe there is a greater purpose for our pain. If we can only learn how to transform it into positive energy instead of transmitting pain onto the people around us. I think that’s the bittersweet gift of grief. We learn to love more, live fuller, and develop more meaningful lives. What others take for granted, I praise God for with gratitude because I’ve come to grasp the fragility of life. How nothing is guaranteed and how every day is a precious gift.