A few months ago one of my dearest friends gave birth to a beautiful little girl-- her first after four boys. The morning she delivered her husband called me and asked if I would like to come over and be part of the experience. I felt so excited and nervous because I had never seen anyone in labor or a baby being born, and I loved my friend so much and was excited that her little baby girl was finally coming. I remember kneeling by my bed and saying a quick prayer for her that everything would go well and that I could be helpful or comforting in some way.
My friend labored for hours, and it was very difficult for her. I was with her for the first bit and was amazed by her strength, but after a while when the contractions were really strong and difficult she only wanted her husband and midwife in the room.
There were two things that struck me the most about the experience-- first, that here was my friend experiencing so much pain, and the rest of the world was ticking on. It really felt to me like everything should stop for a little while for such a big moment. But it didn't. There were her older kids that I sat on the floor with and played games with. Lunch that we all needed to eat. Her youngest boy who needed his diaper changed and who needed to be put down for a nap. For everyone else, the necessities of life were moving us forward, but for her she was paused into this moment of pain and labor.
The second thing that struck me was that none of us could take her pain away from her. I don't think there was a person in that house that wouldn't have taken the pain away from her if we could. We all loved her, and wished she didn't have to suffer so much. Besides minimizing distractions, and trying to offer comfort though, the pain was something that she had to work through on her own.
After she gave birth I came up to the room (I ended up missing the actual delivery because I had run to Sonic to get her some pebble ice, not realizing she was so close to delivering) to see her beautiful baby girl lying on her stomach breathing. I got to see the chord being cut and was so happy for my friend. I remember my friend exclaiming sincerely "I don't ever want to do that again!" But not even thirty minutes later after they were all cleaned up, her new baby bundled up, they were lying in bed together and my friend was just beaming while looking at her new baby. I will never forget her looking at her and saying with equal sincerity "Oh, but it's so worth it though!"
I have been thinking about that experience through this last week. At first I was thinking how different our experiences were, but then I started to realize how many similarities there were too.
This same dear friend was there for me in the hospital when I was being wheeled out of the operating room. We missed each others actual deliveries-- hers because I had run off to Sonic, and mine because I was in an operating room, but we were both there for the moments afterward. When describing the hours afterward I think we have both used the words sacred to describe them. Yes her baby breathed and mine did not, but there was an equal amount of love in those rooms-- love from the family members and friends surrounding us, love for the babies we held, and love from the people beyond our view that I'm certain were attending us in those sacred moments.
In the days that followed Adam's death and birth I struggled so much with the intense physical and emotional pain and shock of what had just happened. I remember one night hobbling to the hospital bathroom, sick from medication and feeling so sad because I didn't have my baby. I remember thinking "I don't ever want to do this again," and in that moment I meant it. I didn't ever want to have to lay down on an operating table and be pumped up with medication and have my stomach cut open. I didn't ever want to expose my heart to the possibility of such a huge loss, and the heartache that I was experiencing.
Like I felt at my friends labor and birth, I know that others have felt so helpless with my pain. I've had so many people that have told me that they wish they could take some of the pain away from me. Though I can't claim that the pain is all mine-- this was a loss experienced by many around me-- the bulk of it is something that I am going to have to work through-- not alone exactly (I've already felt immense comfort from above), but nobody can say or do anything to change the situation. They can only help minimize distractions and offer comfort.
While we were in Utah I was lying in bed the night before the funeral, and I thought about my friend looking into her baby's eyes and saying "It was so worth it though!" I wondered if I had the possibility to crawl backward through these last ten months to the moment Rick and I decided that we wanted to try for another baby if I would. If I knew what the end result would be-- that just hours before I was expecting to hold my new healthy baby in my arms that his heart would suddenly stop beating, and instead I would hold his lifeless body in my arms and sob, and watch my husband and parents do the same, would I still make the decision to conceive?
I was surprised at how easily I was able to answer that question. Yes. I absolutely would. In a moment. For those ten months I fell in love with my baby boy. I got to see him kick his cute little legs on the ultra sound. For months and months I got to feel him move all around in my belly. Almost every night I used to take a warm bath in the evening and I used to just sing and sing to him, and sometimes even talk to him. It was my special time with him, and I'm so grateful now for it. At night I used to visit with Rick in bed about what I thought his personality was like. With all my children I feel like I've gotten a strong sense of what they were like while in my womb. I used to say that I thought Adam was so so sweet, and a little bit shy.
I loved and still love my baby boy. I got to hold him, to see what he looked like, to spend time with him. I wouldn't trade any of that, even though I'm suffering now. Even though I'm so sad, I would agree with my friend that it is so worth it. It really is.