Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Unconditional Love

Almost 5 years ago we received the most devastating news any parents can get.  At 20 weeks pregnant we were told that our first baby would likely die before or shortly after birth.  And there was nothing that could be done to prevent it.  We were offered termination of the pregnancy.

I think, not knowing what else to do, doctors offer pregnancy termination in an attempt to spare parents from pain.  But there is no reprieve from the agony of this diagnosis.  No quick fix.

Not able to bear the thought of taking action to end my child's life I asked about other options.  We were told, well you can continue the pregnancy, but not many people do that.  So we set out on a terrifying journey -- but a journey full of love like no other.  My daughter, Joan, taught me about unconditional love.

Maybe people think that by choosing to continue my pregnancy with Joan, we were only waiting for death.  Delaying the inevitable.  Dragging out the grief and suffering.

This is not the case.

First of all, the timeline of grief cannot be controlled.  Trust me.  Grief can not be rushed or resolved in a tidy manner, no matter what you do.  There is no shortcut through grief.

When I found the perinatal hospice website a light went on in my soul.  The words on the page spoke the feelings in my heart, when I was too grief-stricken to think clearly.  I no longer felt alone.
Continuing the pregnancy is not about passively waiting for death. It is about actively embracing the brief, shining moment of this little life.
[Source: www.perinatalhospice.org FAQ - Why would anyone continue a pregnancy like this? ]

It started to sink in that this was the only time I would have with my daughter. And I could make the best of it. Love her enough for a lifetime. Talk to her. Read to her. Take her to the beach. And so many other things.

To think that we were passively, miserably waiting for her death could not be further from the truth. To be honest, it was not always easy every day. But actively embracing and celebrating Joan's life and all of the little joys of each day was a fulfilling and meaningful journey.

Because the bottom line is this:

Joan's life was just that. Her life.

It was entrusted to me as her mother. But it was not for me to decide when and how Joan's life would end. My purpose was to love, comfort and care for Joan until that day came.

Is there any greater love?