This picture was taken April 2, 2006, 7 years ago tomorrow.
This was a woman who, though still very much struggling with hyperemesis, was happily expecting a baby. And not just “expecting” in the pregnancy euphemism sense, but literally expecting a baby. There had been a lot of loss in my family, but I had made it not only out of the first trimester with a living baby, but I was so close to the end. I was 34 weeks pregnant in this picture and a baby’s chances of survival at birth at 34 weeks are nearly as likely as a full term birth. Not only that, but she was perfectly healthy. The ultrasounds and tests all came back perfectly. I was going to have a baby, it was only a matter of time. I loved looking at baby clothes and had everything planned out at least a year in advance. And I was so ready to just not be where I was anymore (sick), and just get on with the whole mom thing.
That woman is gone now. She died when Dr. B said the words “There’s her heart, and it’s not beating.”
This is me today.
A lot more has changed than my hair color. So much more than you can ever see. I have 3 healthy children now, and I love (mostly) every moment. (because there are just some mom moments that you don’t love, period.) I’m a woman who doesn’t expect tomorrow. I love having my kids wake me up because that doesn’t mean I have to spend even a moment worrying that they died sometime in the night. (It’s not a serious worry, but it’s there). And while I do make plans for their futures, there is that little voice in my head that adds “hopefully” to every one.
I’m a woman who is missing a very tangible part of herself, but it’s an invisible wound. Unlike someone who has lost an arm or a leg, you can’t tell by looking at me. But that doesn’t make it any less real. I see holes in every family picture, at every family outing. It may be invisible to everyone else, but it is very visible and tangible to me.
But I am now also a woman who lives in the moment. I can sit and just watch my children play for hours, soaking it in. I am a woman who will hold my children when they are fussy and just be glad that they are here to fuss at me (not that it isn’t REALLY HARD to be fussed at, and not at all enjoyable), because I can look up at the picture of the one for whom I’d give ANYTHING to have a 40 minute argument over popcorn with.
Her name means “heart full of gratitude,” and she gave that to me. The ability to see and appreciate and be grateful for what a moment means. Even the hard ones.