Perhaps you've seen this poster before. I saw it a year or two ago and always thought it was rather clever and inspiring. It was created by the British government at the very beginning of World War II. It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster.
I always thought the origin of this poster was very interesting, but I find it particularly poignant right now. I don't have first hand experience with the horror of war. I've never faced a military attack or been forced to flee during an invasion. However, I'm going to guess that nothing fully prepares you for what you face during times of battle.
Likewise, I find myself in the midst of an unforeseen crisis and I often feel incredibly unprepared.
What prepares you for the news that your baby is dying?
What prepares you to deliver a baby who has passed away or will die shortly after birth?
Not books. Not websites. Not long talks with others who have walked this journey.
There are some battles in this life that you must face moment-to-moment. Carrying a baby with a fatal diagnosis is one of those battles. I have certainly read some excerpts of books, visited websites, and talked with a few very strong women who have experienced similar loss. We are doing what we can to be as prepared as possible for what may come, but there is only so much we can do.
My thoughts take me back to last Sunday. On Saturday night, I went to bed after a lovely evening of full of family, good food, and pumpkin carving in honor of my birthday. William kicked away as I drifted off to sleep. He often moves the most throughout the night. I find myself looking forward to his precious movements when I wake early in the morning.
On Sunday, I opened my eyes before the sun came up and lay waiting to feel him move.
I tried not to panic, feeling sure that he would start squirming soon. The morning wore on as I drifted in and out of sleep. I became more and more aware of his lack of movement, but refused to dwell on it.
Surely he'll move after I eat breakfast and drink some juice.
The hours passed and I didn't feel anything. My anxiety began to increase.
It is time, God?
I'm not ready! Please, please...
I need more time
I don't want to say goodbye
As the afternoon turned to evening, I began to feel frantic. I grabbed the computer and searched the Babies R Us website, my hands shaking. I have had my heart set on picking out an outfit and a blanket for him. There's so little I may be able to buy for him. I so wanted him to have something that was chosen specifically for him by his Mama.
I searched for preemie sized clothing and blankets for baby boys, thinking someone could go to the store and pick them up for us if today was the day. But it became too painful to look through the items on the screen. I pushed aside the computer, tears streaming down my face.
I wanted so much more, God.
I'm trying so hard to accept the time we've been given,
but I ache for so much more
If I felt no movement after 24 hours, I knew we were supposed to call CHOP.
I don't want to call CHOP
Please kick, William
Please move for Mommy
As we prepared for bed, my thoughts were all over the place.
I felt angry. Why do we have to be in this place of uncertainty?
I felt fear. But I don't know how to deliver a baby.
I felt panic. What if I never feel him kick again? What if he's...gone
I felt a deep sadness for which there are no words. At this point it had been about 24 hours since I'd felt him move and I began preparing to call CHOP first thing in the morning.
As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, I felt a small thump.
I froze, hardly able to breath. Is that you, baby boy? Move some more for me, William.
Two more thumps.
The relief poured over me like warm water. His movements increased throughout the night and by morning, he was practically dancing.
Although I was relieved beyond words that William was still with us, I found myself feeling very traumatized on Monday. His lack of movement and the possibility that his life could be over gave me a glimpse into the unspeakable pain we could experience if that is the outcome that awaits us. Yet again, I realized how one cannot fully prepare for loss of a loved one.
Since I do not know exactly what's ahead and can only walk through this battle moment-by-moment, there are some things I will commit to doing in the meanwhile.
I will cling to God, trusting that He will carry me through the moments of unimaginable grief that may come in my life.
I will pray that He guides me through all the moments for which I cannot prepare.
I will carry my precious son and give him all the comfort, warmth, and love I can possibly give him.
I will cry, because I love my baby and the threat to his life warrants sadness and heartache.
I will laugh, because I want William's life to include so much more than my tears and brokenness. I want him to hear and feel the joy of laughter every day of his life.
I will sing, because I want to share the gift of music with him.
I will hope, because each day his heart beats is a miracle.
I will honor his life, because he is a precious gift from God.
I will love him. I will love God. I will love others.
And amidst the battles, the storms, and the moments for which no one could ever prepare...I will do my best to keep calm and carry on.