I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. -Og Mandino
One year ago today Josh and I went in for an ultrasound. We left with our lives changed forever.We found out the baby we’d just recently annouced we were carrying had Anencephaly. Five days later we found out that baby was a girl. Her being a girl was crushing to me. I’d wanted a little girl since before I had Kanin. To know I got that little girl, but had to give her up was terrible.
I don’t think I’ve ever addressed how I reacted when D-Day (diagnosis day) happened. It wasn’t pretty. When the songrapher left the room I bawled, I cried and kept thinking not me, not this baby. After my doctor came in to talk to us, I cried again. The first few hours Josh and I drove around asking a former friend to keep Kanin for a bit while longer. We drove and discussed termination (no way) and what exactly Anencephaly was. I knew, I was fully aware of the death sentence it carried. Josh was not, he did not fully understand the gravity of the situation. To explain it, I had to be clinical and distant. How can I possibly be explaining how my child is going to die? That thought crossed my mind so many times. Not just to him but to anyone. I had to explain it again to Kanin’s babysitter. When we got home Kanin sat between us playing on the couch, while we both looked up more information about Anencephaly. It was agonizing to wait for Kanin to go to bed. Once he did, I don’t recall much.
The next few weeks were terrible. I hardly ate or drank anything. I didn’t want to leave my bed or be involved with anyone or anything. Josh and I argued a bunch about me not taking care of myself.
How dare you not take care of yourself! She’s MY daughter too and if you weren’t going to take care of yourself, why are you carrying her?
I distinctly remember him saying that to me and all I did was bury my head in my pillow and cry silent tears. My thoughts circled to dark places. If I died now, at least she’d be with me and I wouldn’t have to live without her. Maybe carrying her was too hard for me? I’ve cried so much since that day. It’s a miracle I can still spring fresh tears on a drop of a dime. Looking back, I know he said that out of concern. Not only for Aerilyn, but for me as well.
I’m not sure what snapped me out of “stupor?” after the first few weeks, but something did. And I’ve been fighting ever since. First fighting for her life, then mine.
The past year has been a whirlwind for me; it’s taught me so much and I’m only beginning to touch the surface of it all. It’s amazing to think of how much can change and how much you can learn about yourself and others in just one year
In the last year I’ve learned that I can survive the loss of a child, something I never thought I could do. It’s also given me the opportunity to start this blog to share her, honor her and spread awareness. To tell people what it’s like to hit rock bottom and find your way back. I’ve learned two major things from this experience. I am stronger and more capable than I give myself credit and what it means to have a friend.
A friend. I’ve touched this subject a few times in this past year and I’m more sure now what a friend is, than I ever have been. If you’re not sure what a friend is ask yourself these questions:
- Would they drop everything and take pictures of your dying child?
- Would they stand by your side and hear every nasty word you have to say about the world and not judge you for it?
- Would they listen to you, comfort you and give you their real opinion? Even if it meant more pain for you or themselves?
- Would they respect every single wish you asked of them and then some?
- Would they go above and beyond to know that whatever is wrong, you’ll get through it and they’ll be there with you?
- Would they keep a secret for you and hold your hand through the most difficult thing in your life?
- Would they put aside their worries and put you before themselves to help you?
- Are they able to judge your mood and give you what you need, moment to moment, even as it changes?
- Is their foremost concern your happiness, despite their opinions on what you want or need to be happy?
- Do they always make time for you when you need them, no matter how busy they are?
A friend is someone who stands by your side without question. Someone who, even if they don’t understand that dark place inside you, recognizes it, supports you, and loves you in spite of it. Someone who is trustworthy, compassionate, and kind. In the last year, I’ve learned that someone who doesn’t have those qualities and for whom I would answer “no” to more than a few of those questions is not my friend.
Throughout my pregnancy I leaned on people who are no longer in my life. They never fit those ciriteria even though I thought they had. In losing them, I gained others. Others who would never cast me out, go behind my back or ever attempt to hurt me in more ways than I already was. I found friends who fit those questions I can answer yes to more than a handful of them. Those are my friends. If you’re questioning someone in your life, ask yourself if you could live with yourself if you hurt them. If the answer is yes, leave. Don’t give them false hope that they have a true friend in you. Then better yourself. Strive to make those questions a yes if someone asked them about you. In the end, a genuine person doesn’t care what your past or current history is with them. They’ll put everything aside and do what is right. What a decent human being would and should do. If you’re not able to give even one person that type of friendship, then you are not a true friend.
I diverge… Apologies.
Being capable. What does being capable mean? It means having the ability to achieve what’s in front of you, regardless of the obstacles. I Am Capable. I’ve perservered in a realm no one wants to, I’ve come out broken, battered, and beat down, but better. I’m better today than I was one year ago. I am better today than five months ago. I am better today than I was yesterday. All because I laid on a bed with a wand on my belly, Josh joking at my side, and the sonogroapher going quiet and holding back tears. All because this tiny little life that I saw from sperm all the way to death made me who I am now. Aerilyn made me a better person.
D-Day… I am not happy I still call it that. It is her Diagnosis Day, but it is not something I should mourn to the extent that I am. Without this day, I would have never learned the value of friendship. Without this day, I would have never met the amazing group of people I have. I would have never started this blog; something I am fiercly passionate about, albeit frustrated with. Without May 26th, 2015, I would have never seen how capable and strong I am. Without Her, there would be no Me.