This Gift of Time

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I wrote for the last time on my first photography blog today. Actually, it was in the wee hours last night when I couldn’t sleep. And more accurately, I should state that I let someone else write for me. Words that tell our story still don’t come easily. If I’m writing an e-mail to a friend, I can usually pour my heart out easily. But to write things out in a place like this is different… and this, coming from an often wordy, open-book sort of person.

But as I find myself in a mental/emotional fog these last few days {likely due to lack of sleep or maybe my subconscious way of coping with what is to come}, I also find myself needing to get anything out that I can. So I’m back here once more… one more stop I didn’t think I’d be making before I’m induced on Thursday… this time, to share an image of her.

There she is, around twenty-three weeks old. Under pleats of grey. Under hands that long to save her. Captured beautifully by a talent I could only ever aspire to. In a photo that will likely be my favorite forever.

This image embodies the title and message of a book I’ve recently read, A Gift of Time. How unfortunate that it takes a sad and tragic event to get me to read a book for once. I’m just not a big reader. But I’m so grateful to the woman who gave it to me to read… someone who lost her own sweet child to Trisomy 18. Not being much of a bookworm, it’s likely that no one will ever witness me touting or reviewing a book. But this is one I would recommend again and again… and not just to parents who are facing the loss of an infant, but to their entire extended family. It’s just so well-written, so helpful and resourceful, and so comforting. It’s informative in ways that I think would benefit even family of the grieving parents who are losing {or who’ve lost} their baby, every bit as much as it benefits the parents themselves. I wish I’d read it sooner so that I would’ve sooner realized I should lend it to my husband’s family and mine. Though written for him and me, it seems it would be equally beneficial to them… if for nothing more than to help them help us and help them understand all that engulfs us.

Ultimately, though, it was written for my husband and me… and the many other parents who have continued {or are contemplating carrying on} with their pregnancy after receiving a fatal diagnosis. The reason it helped me does not lie in affirmation of my decision about whether or not to terminate. My mind was made up on that long before I was even of age to have children. Instead, it helped me to see that our choice to keep our baby was not merely a moral-based decision, but also a gift to us as parents. A gift of more time with her. This became a life-saving perspective on the very toughest days when I didn’t feel like I could go on for one more. Mine was a very difficult pregnancy, physically speaking. And emotionally? More than I could bear in my own strength. If I did not choose to see my time with her as a gift and was not given the perspectives this book offers, I don’t know where I would be today. Bitter, I think. Full of regret, even.

There was no way to know, looking forward, the extent of our gift of time… how many days we would have. Doctors painted a picture that had me thinking that time would be brief. Today, my gift of time with her there in my womb is coming very nearly to a close. There’s only one more day between the hour I write this and the moment I hold her in my arms. After tomorrow, we may get another gift of time with her… or rather, additional time, but now face-to-face. And then again, we might not.

Coming so far, I can only hope and pray for this additional time. And if it should be withheld, all the more I need to see these impregnated days as beautiful and precious and deem it a privilege and honor to have had her life entrusted to me, whatever the number of days we’re given.

It feels as though this gift of time I’ve been given {April 6th through this Thursday, at soonest} with my daughter is the bridge between my last blogging home and this one… between my Before and After. So I felt it should be written into my About Page. Not just included, but very much at the heart.

Doing so is what should {and hopefully will} shape where I take this space and how I will use it. I hope it can be a place to grieve, and not just a place to cover up pain. It’s hard to say, because I get this sinking feeling that I don’t even begin to grasp what pain lies ahead, and couldn’t possibly until it is here.

I’ve read many blogs over these past months by other moms that have walked or are walking a similar road. Each time I read their stories, I can’t picture myself being where they’ve arrived… blogging about the gift of their experience and the joy they find in it.

If that could ever be me at some point, I think it is still a long way off. But where I may not yet be able to write about the joy, I trust I will easily see and acknowledge this time as our gift… where joy might someday abound.

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{Please, if you ever go through this or currently are in the midst of one such pregnancy and have not yet heard of the book mentioned above… or if you are family of one who is going through this… please get your hands on a copy of this book and read it.}

Photograph by
Stacey Montgomery