Today is a special birthday to celebrate. I've been waiting so many years for this birthday, but the wait was truly in God's time. Today, I celebrate my first birthday as a mommy. It's a different celebration than what I had originally planned when I was pregnant, but it's still an important day for me. It means that because I was born, so now Daniel was born. My birth back in 1985 led to Daniel's birth in November. It makes my birth so much more meaningful and gives me a tangible purpose for life.
As I reflect on the past year, I am humbled that God carried me through it. Last year, I celebrated the big 3-0 and was so excited to see what my 30s had in store for me. I was prayerful that I would be a mommy and last March my dreams were confirmed. Spending the past year planning for a baby, decorating our nursery, and growing in faith are wonderful memories. This past year held so much joy and love, yet also pain and sorrow. My daily sadness for Daniel's passing is imminent, but I don't allow myself to focus on it. Instead, I focus on all the joy from this past year of life. I reflect on my growing belly and how Bill and I laughed often at how big it continued to grow. I think about Daniel's kicks and moves that flopped my belly around and stretched my stretchmarks. I recall the excitement on Bill's face when he felt Daniel kicking for the first time, and how much Daniel began kicking and moving at the sound of Bill's voice each day when he came home. Bill and I often discuss our excitement of becoming parents and making the perfect place for our new baby by choosing the perfect wallpaper border and furniture for his nursery. I can honestly say that my first year in my 30s was the best year of my life; it gave me Daniel. As I celebrate my first birthday as a mommy, I reflect on how blessed and humbled I am that God chose me to be Daniels's mommy this year. Daniel has made this birthday a special one for me because he gave me the best gift I could ever get, him.
When people say "a baby changes everything", it is true in all circumstances. For those parents who have lost a baby, it changes your whole world, or at least it did for us. I look at my empty crib and sit in our quiet nursery each day thinking of this time without him. I read books aloud without a baby in my arms listening to my voice. I look over his clothes laying in his crib with no baby to dress and too much sadness to put them away. Most people have empathy with the suffering pain a mommy encounters, but some unfortunately do not. For some, it is difficult to understand the feeling of loss and pain that parents feel after their baby is gone. And most parents don't want people to feel their pain; they simply want compassion in acknowledging their child's life. The sequence of life events is thrown out of sync when your baby passes away before you. So the only thing to hang onto is their memory and the signs they show you of their presence around you. I look at my son and want people to remember him and his story of hope and faith. I want people to see the grace with which we carried him and respect his life. All I can ask is that others have dignity in respecting him as a beautiful baby that was born to parents who waited so long to hold a baby in their arms. All we have ever wanted is for Daniel to be treated with the same love and respect that every baby receives. We have never wanted him treated differently in regards to how things are done, although we know his life has been so much more meaningful than most babies of his time. No matter what events surround your baby's birth, no one can ever stand in the way of a mommy's love for her child. My love for Daniel is so deep and my love for him will carry me through even the toughest battles. Nothing can ever counter the power of a mommy's love for her son.
In my grief, I have quickly learned that time will not heal all wounds. The wound and pain in losing my baby will never lessen. I can't imagine in the years from now feeling any less sad that Daniel is gone than I do today. In my pain, I have chosen to take a different path than most. I have remained very open about Daniel's pregnancy, birth, and passing as a way of helping others and myself heal. I may not know all of God's plan with my son, but I do know that He wants me to show others love through this pain and plant seeds for Him.
In the past several months so many people have commented on the strength Bill and I have shown. During my pregnancy I thought "of course I have strength, I have to be strong for our baby". But as Daniel's birth approached my view of how I was carrying out his life changed. I had been praying daily for Daniel, and for us, to continue to have the strength to deliver him. I prayed for strength everyday because I felt so weak. My mind was overwhelmed going through all the outcomes and my heart was so fragile. My ability to put one foot in front of the other and face each day was solely from my faith. It wasn't until after I held Daniel in my arms and praised God for his life that I realized how weak I truly am. As the doctor was completing the C-section, I continually prayed for God to give Daniel life, I begged Him for his life. In that moment, I felt so fragile and even though Daniel's life was out of my control I did not have doubt. I trusted that God would provide and my faith in God is what got me through that day and every single day of my pregnancy. I realized after his birth that what myself and everyone else was seeing as strength was not strength at all. My faith is what provided the ability to carry Daniel, not strength.
Today, I prayed with a group of women and during our prayers I kept asking God to continue opening my eyes to the path He's providing for me. I asked Jesus to continue walking with me to where I am supposed to be going. And during my prayers, I reflected on how much their love has sustained me through my grief. I know how weak and fragile I am each day. Some days it takes all my effort to get out of bed and accept that another day has passed since I last got to hold Daniel. Every day I cry longing to have my son here with me in flesh and missing him so dearly. But every day I see God's presence in my life and it makes me realize that my faith has saved me. Instead of being unable to get out of bed, I can get up and praise God for fearfully and wonderfully making my son in my womb. I can praise Him for letting me have the 36 weeks of my belly growing, feeling his kicks, having heartburn, and telling his story. Instead of beating myself down for Daniel's passing, I can praise Jesus for walking with me during my pregnancy and allowing my body to sustain Daniel's life. I can praise Jesus for teaching me to accept my path and carry my cross gracefully. On my difficult days, I remind myself that I must give it all to God and know that He will take my pain. You see, I'm not strong at all. But in my weakness I have faith that sustains me and gives me the grace to carry through. Faith is what I hope to give others who are facing grief and pain, which I will continue to do in memory of my sweet Daniel John.
I became a mommy in 2015 to a beautiful baby boy, Daniel John, who taught me the depth of a mother's love and the sorrow of neonatal infant loss.