This Day, That Other Day and a Few Things More on Motherhood

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This day
… picked up from what I wrote about my Mother’s Day on my facebook timeline tonight…
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I thought it would be really difficult.
And at one point it was… only for one brief moment…
when Isaac was playing with the brother and sister {son and daughter
of the family that owns the Thai restaurant I was taken to for Mother’s Day}
on the floor of the restaurant while Mr. B and I ate our dinner.
It was a nice little break… to be able to eat our dinner almost as if we were on a date sans Isaac
because the restaurant owners were sweet enough to welcome Isaac
as one of their own and let him play with their two sweet kiddos.
But it hit me, as I proudly watched my son play with kids he had never met previously,
that he was playing with a little boy about his age and that boy’s not-much-older sister… siblings.
Only once did tears form today, and it was at that moment.
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But this day was so much more than that.
This day was encouraging as I watched so many people post about Mother’s Day…
many of whom posted in such a compassionate way,
recognizing that this is not an easy day for everyone…
for women who long to be moms, but are not yet… and may never be.
For those who have lost their mom and miss her so much,
or those who never really knew their mom,
and for all the moms who have lost a child.
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So it was beautiful to see so many people celebrate their mom or celebrate being a mom,
but also beautiful to see them share thoughts for anyone who could not celebrate those things.
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This day was fun… to watch so many people post old throwback photos
of themselves with their moms and/or grandmas,
or vintage photos of just their mom before they were born
{I love to look at old photographs… even when I don’t know the person!!}…
or to see a mom post a current picture of herself with her kids…
or both the old and new photographs.
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This day, the weather was beautiful, the sermon at church was awesome,
my son was so good in church, and the sweet grandma who sat in front of us
turned around to tell him just how good he was, and I was a beaming mama…
and not just because it’s Mother’s Day.
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This day, I even got to go for a walk with a friend.
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This day, so many people wrote or texted to say such thoughtful things
that made me know my Mother’s Day wouldn’t be all that difficult,
given the number of people who were thinking of and praying for me.
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This day, I thought of the many women who stepped in as mom for Isaac this past year
when it was difficult for me to be present for him… including my sisters and mom and several friends.
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This day, my son was full of funny things to say…
as if, knowing his name means laughter, he decided to give me
the gift of humor to make my Mother’s Day special.
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This day, he also gave me a DVD of my favorite movie
{which I know was actually from Mr. B, but it was a Mother’s Day gift none the less}
so that I wouldn’t have to check it out from the library anymore.
And not only that, but Mr. B. told me that this day was mine to do with whatever I wanted,
even if what I wanted was to watch Jane Eyre {the movie he gave me} 12 times in a row.
I almost took him up on that idea!!
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This day, we didn’t make it to the brunch restaurant we had hoped to, because the line was ridiculous
and stretched far out the door, and they don’t take reservations on Mother’s Day.
But it didn’t matter, because Panera can be just as good and just as delicious, and WAY less hectic.
And taking pictures in Panera is way less annoying to other patrons
than it is in a “real” sit-down restaurant… and if we had gone anywhere else to eat,
I would never have gotten these cherished photos of Isaac
cracking himself up after telling his dad a silly joke.
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This day, I am honored to have been given the title and charge
to be mother to a beautiful boy and a beautiful girl.
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This day was precious to me.
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I hope you all had a precious day, too.

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.. •.. •.. •.. •
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That Other Day… an old post, picked up from the archives of my former blog,
originally posted 10.5.2012 {and probably easier to read} here.
The words of the poem can be read more easily by clicking on the photos below, too…
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I found this most precious and whimsical poem by Maryann K. Cusimano… perhaps the sweetest poem I’ve ever read… and I couldn’t help but set it to these recent photos taken by my husband at the beach.

Normally on this here blog, I like to post photos that I  have taken {and, thus, am not in}. But after reading this article that my friend Tammi shared on her facebook page, Mom Whispers, I realized the importance of posting photos of myself as the mom that I am these days… even if I have not yet shed that twenty or so pounds that I had hoped to by now. I’m by no means a bikini babe on the beach. But that is not what my son cares about or expects.

It’s my quiet, my calm, my wings, my arms, dry towels, dinner, my voice in book or a song, his favorite giraffe at bedtime, my touch, a kiss, and a home that he’s looking for in me.

And that, he has.

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.. •.. •.. •.. •
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A few more things… or thoughts on motherhood and how I relate to it over the past year.
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I had originally hoped for this third part of my post to be most {if not the entirety} of my Mother’s Day post. But the day was so busy and full, and thus, I never took the time I’d have liked to in order to really express what was on my heart.

But mostly it had to do with these two sentences in a blog post that a friend sent me a link to yesterday {which I will attempt to expound on anyway}…
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…So God made a mother.

It had to be somebody willing to keep loving when it made no sense because that’s what love does.”

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I cried when I read those two lines. The entire blog post threatened to make me cry, actually… especially with the tender music that is always playing upon visiting this particular well-known and well-read blog.

But I didn’t cry. I just enjoyed what was written and related to much of it as a mom.

I didn’t cry until almost the end—at this point… It had to be somebody willing to keep loving…

That’s not necessarily unfathomable, right? Well, at least I never thought so. Add “when it made no sense” to that equation and you’ve got yourself a different story.

It had to be somebody willing to keep loving is where I was three and a half years ago when I was pregnant the first time… with a healthy boy.

When it made no sense is where I found myself last June… pregnant with Anysia.

We had doctors who asked if we wanted to terminate our pregnancy. That’s their job. They ask anyone in our position. For us, there were no two paths… only one. But that didn’t make it any more sensical. I mean, carrying my child no matter what makes sense. But carrying her knowing the outcome {or likely outcome} did not. This lack of sense did not change our decision… or even how we viewed what we were facing. But I had, for the first time in my life, an understanding of what some women face when there are two distinct choices in front of them about what to do with a pregnancy.

And I grieve today to know that so many choose a different path than we did. I grieve that they are faced with the choice to begin with, especially when put in that position for reasons completely out of their control. And I grieve that love does not equal sacrifice so often in these cases. I grieve to think that sometimes perhaps love does not enter in at all {when hearts are calloused toward believing that baby is a life already}. I have a hard time with the argument that tries to convince me otherwise, because I can’t reconcile ending a life with love for a life. So I struggle with this issue… with looking at it. I will not use this space to hash out my side of the debate which clashes with the other side that believes life does not begin at conception, though I think it would be pretty clear to any who read here where I stand. I’m not here to say that I condemn the women {or men} who think differently than me. I am only using this space and this post on this day to say that I don’t understand it… and that it grieves me.

Neither am I here to say I am a saint and that every person should be so loving and sacrificial. I loved my baby from the day I knew she was there. But I won’t lie and say that I didn’t agonize and experience the very worst anguish… the kind that, I believe, leads women to terminate pregnancies… because I did agonize. That anguish never made me consider termination. But it did make me understand those who do. It did not make me feel it’s okay when others follow through after having considered it. But it made me feel compassion for them… that they were in that position in the first place, and that they didn’t keep loving {in the form of protecting life} even when it made no sense.

To watch/read the coverage of the recently released video {which I will never watch} of a 25-year-old woman talking to “her” audience as her pregnancy was being terminated just outside the view of the camera… for anyone to watch, thinking she was doing a service to women who are considering ending the life growing inside them… it was more than I could bear. What’s so hard to read about it is how others have reported her casualness and nonchalance on the matter… and the way she purposefully tried to portray a light-hearted demeanor during the procedure. I’d like to believe that no matter where people stand on this highly controversial issue, all would at least agree that coming to a decision to terminate is not one that is come to lightly or without some level of difficulty. In other words, I would think that no matter what, even if one believes it is their body and their right to do whatever they want without their action being judged, that at least they see it as a sobering decision and an even more sobering procedure… not one to be filming next to as the client is humming a tune. So to hear about it all a couple of days before Mother’s Day as the day approached, along with such tender feelings and memories of the birth and death of my baby girl bubbling to the surface, I was broken-hearted and grieved… and shocked beyond words.

I want to reach out to each girl who watches that video {first praying she would never see it to begin with} and tell them my side… my story. How a sacrifice as painful and tragic as carrying a life when it makes absolutely no sense is such a beautiful thing… no matter what. No. Matter. What. I won’t take the arguments easily. I can’t. I was there. I had an argument about as “legitimate” as they come. There may be worse predicaments than mine. But this can not be a choice made based on degrees of predicament. Where do you draw the line, then? One can’t. My line would be different from yours and yours from the next person. I have to believe that all life is sacred and there is no line… or only one line, crossed when it’s anything but choosing life.

It’s likely far too emotional of a thing for me right now to write out as an argument in black and white. But if I could sit with every single girl or woman and beg them to choose the “keep loving when it [makes] no sense” path, I would.

Having gone through what we did, I’m passionate about this… so much more than ever before.

And I am grieved so much more than ever before.

And it weighs on me so much more than ever before.

And I can’t be silent about it the same way I was before.

There might be many who would disagree with me… even choose to not associate with me anymore because of where I stand. But, still, it is where I stand.

After I lost Anysia, I wanted to write a blog post called “Dear Mom Who is Wondering What to Do”… about this very issue, but most specifically for women facing the inevitable loss of a baby after a fatal diagnosis. I wanted to tell each woman my experience of heartache, but also immense joy in choosing to carry my daughter. I wanted to… still want to… plead with her to give her child life for as long as she is allowed and able. I want her to know that I get it… I get where she is at… but that she can get to where I am at too. That there is nothing too great to sacrifice in order to protect and cherish that sacred life she’s been given.

On this Mother’s Day, I wish I had that post all written out. I mean, many of my past posts cumulatively contain that message… and my heart for why this path is good and fulfilling. But I also wish I had it written in one contained post that I could publish here today. Perhaps I will get around to it by next Mother’s Day, or better yet {because such a message is not one I want to hold off on}, I could try to have it done by the one-year anniversary of when we found out something was wrong with Anysia and were faced with the choice ourselves.

Honestly, I haven’t the slightest clue of who all reads here… nor exactly what each one who does believes. I run the risk of offending or turning away anyone who might be reading this. But it’s not a risk that is important to me… changing someone’s mind who is considering termination is.

And if I could say only one thing to any pregnant mother out there this Mother’s Day… especially the ones who are going through what we did last year about this time… it would be this.

If you are in the position I {along with my husband} was in, then I know you want to be a mom. And though the line from the blog post that I quoted above was not necessarily written for moms in your position, I think it applies so perfectly… and beautifully.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to not have doctors who pressured or even bullied us into thinking termination was the only proper thing to do. Had they, it would not have made a difference in our decision, although, rather likely, it would have made the difference in where we sought healthcare.

But I know, after reading certain books on carrying a child that is known to have a fatal illness, that many parents are very pressured and bullied… which I find so sad. For some, support from their providers for the alternative is not even mentioned or given a chance… equally sad.

This Mother’s Day season, if that is where you are, I plead that you choose the alternative—the Gift of Time that we chose… a gift of time with your baby for you, a gift of life from you for your baby.

To know that even just one person might reconsider by reading this… this would make my Mother’s Day happy.

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June 19, 2014 – After reading an article today about parents who choose termination having found themselves in the same place we did, I realize that I regret writing this the way I did. The article was written by someone who chose to terminate a wanted pregnancy after a fatal diagnosis. I realize in reading it that it was wrong of me to write that it means you don’t love your baby if you terminate the pregnancy. I guess I never directly said that, but I did state that this seems to be the case. My frustration and sadness were much more directed at pregnancies that are terminated because they are unwanted, but even then, I don’t know the hearts and I don’t know the personal stories. My statements in no way were meant to condemn past choices, because my only call is to give grace and let God be the judge of the actions of all, just as I am in need of grace for all of my actions. My statements were pertaining to the overall picture {though made up of many individual stories} and directed at the movement that would allow and condone termination to continue.

But I wanted to cry after reading the article about parents who choose to terminate, because I don’t want to be a judgmental person, and certainly not one who lacks gracious words, especially because I do not know the hearts of any who go through this. I only know my own. And it is wrong to assume that if a parent chooses termination, it means they don’t love the baby… terribly wrong. Only they and God could know their heart on that matter. I now realize that parents take this unfortunate step {after being in such an unfortunate and unwanted position where a choice has to be made} while still loving their baby… thinking that what they are doing is the loving thing. While I may not ever be able to agree with the choice, it is wrong for me to assume that it equals a lack of love. In my heart, I believe that we are to love God first… then others. I believe with all my heart that God does not want us to end any life, no matter what. And I believe we are to make every choice in life in keeping with God and what he has set forth in his word for our lives… how to live. And that is where my belief not to terminate stems from. It is a strong conviction that I would not waver on. But I assuredly see, after reading the words I did today, that those who went/go through what we did, but choose termination are not heartless people who have complete lack of love for that life they carried. And I realize my post came across that way. The post I read today was an outcry and statement of disdain for thinking like mine… words like mine. It does not change my mind about what I think is the only choice… and the best one. And if any mom in the position I was once in came to me today, I would still encourage her to carry the baby and continue the pregnancy. Never will I encourage the alternative. But I won’t continue to be judgmental with my words, especially in regards to what is in the heart of the parent who makes the choice. Where there may be and likely is love, I assumed there is not. I equated a choice I feel is wrong and not the best choice with lack of love. For that, I am so sorry. I hope that no one read my post and felt the way this woman who wrote her article does. I hope she did not read my article. If she did and it was in any way part of her reason for writing what she did, then I regret putting this out there. I could have taken what I wrote down. But, instead, I wanted to own up to what I wrote… and apologize for it in an update. I can see where it is harsh and not full of grace. It was bad timing… written just after hearing about the video I mentioned above, as well as during a tender point, on Mother’s Day, in my grief over my loss. I would write it differently today.

The biggest thing I have realized in this messy, often stormy sea of what is the loss of a child… it’s that there are so many different opinions and opposing views, all which threaten to drive a person insane. There are those who would think you a failure for not doing everything in your power to prolong the life of your child after they are born… for choosing comfort care over intervention. There are those on the opposite end of the spectrum who would criticize you for keeping a baby in the womb because he or she is “incompatible with life” and, as one of our doctors put it, just going to “expire”… the most hurtful word I have ever heard throughout our journey/pregnancy. I’ve personally been exposed/subjected to both points of view. And in between those two ends of the spectrum, there are many other points… so many places along this spectrum or line where parents find themselves. It is in the somewhere-in-between on that line that my husband and myself are. Where I am is different from where others are. While I do not apologize for the belief I hold fast to {that under no circumstance is termination of life okay}, I do sincerely apologize for judging the hearts of those who do choose termination in this situation… to the point of saying there must be no love to do so. That was wrong of me. That’s it… it was wrong, and I am very sorry.

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