My heart is absolutely breaking.
My cousin-in-law has been battling infertility for three years. I only suffered through infertility for 13 months. My journey is nothing near what she is going through. But when I read some of her blog posts, I feel like I'm reading my own past feelings. Her sentiments and thoughts mirror my old thoughts to the T. I had forgotten how incredibly painful that year of my life had been. Now that I'm surrounded by messy, loud, giggling children, the pain is nearly forgotten.
The sorrow, the bitterness, the helplessness, the anger. I feel it all over again when I read her posts and when I relive those feelings. I realize that the shadow of that experience still clings to me in some way (and now that I'm wanting another baby, I'm fearing that I will have to face that ugly animal again- shudder). It has made me more understanding of loss. It has made me more grateful. It has made me hurt for others who are living in that darkness. But mostly, I'm just heartbroken for my cousin. Unless you have experienced infertility, it's a pain you cannot really know. I mean, as a mother, you can imagine it. But you cannot know it. And still, my pain is nothing near what her pain is. The pain and darkness I went through is only a small portion of her devastating experience.
Right now my cousing is going through something even WORSE than infertility, something I do not know. Something I could not ever imagine.
Last month, my cousin shared a video on her FB page announcing that she was 17 weeks pregnant with twins: a boy and a girl. She had initially been pregnant with triplets but lost one at 9 weeks. The whole world, it seemed, celebrated her immense joy. After all this time, so many failed procedures, a miscarriage, and three years of grief, she was finally getting her much-awaited blessings: not one, but TWO healthy, sweet babies!
But just days after sharing her news, the unthinkable....the water for one of her twins broke and she went into early labor. They tried to stop it, which worked for a while, but eventually she gave birth to her stillborn daughter. Despite her pain, she was able to hold on knowing that this improved the chances of survival for her remaining son. She was given the goal of needing to make it to at least 24 weeks before going into labor again, at which time her son would have a 39% chance of survival. Unfortunately, at 21 weeks, she lost her son as well.
She could feel her son's kicks. He was perfect and healthy and thriving. But delivering her daughter left her weak for an infection. And sadly, three weeks after the death of her daughter, she discovered that she did have an infection, which put her life and pregnancy at risk. Even though she could FEEL her healthy baby kicking, the doctors had to prematurely break his water and allow him to be delivered.
I can't imagine giving birth to one stillborn baby. But giving birth to two of them? In a short three weeks? After three years of ache and grief and heartbreak?
My cousin's story is dead and center of all my thoughts today. I can't stop thinking about her story, crying for her loss, trying to imagine that grief. My heart is broken too. To think that this type of pain can happen and does happen.
I looked on at my babies from a fresh perspective today. It hurts to know that I am so blessed when my cousin is going through so much. It hurts to know that our babies are both our greatest sources of joy and also our greatest vulnerabilities. Good things happen. Bad things happen. Wonderful things happen. Terrible things happen. We cannot control these things. My walk with God is a complicated one right now, but I like to think that we are helpless, but not forsaken. We are lonely, but not alone.
A tiny flower
Lent but not given
To bud on earth
And bloom in heaven