I am amazed at how many people have said to me that I have shown great strength throughout this process, as if I have done something remarkable. I don’t feel particularly strong or remarkable. I feel angry, sad, confused – but not strong or extraordinary in any way. I have only done what I feel any mother should do: love my children to the best of my ability.
Looking back to even a few years ago, I was never sure if I really wanted children – partly our of selfishness for enjoying my no-strings-attached single life, and partly because I was in my thirties and unsure if I was ever going to be able to find a partner with which to settle down. I suppose there was also a part of me that was secretly terrified of what toll a pregnancy would take on my body given that I have a heart condition. How silly that all seems to me now that I have produced two beautiful girls! I cannot imagine life without them now, as they and their Daddy have completed my life in a way that I never could have dreamed.
Even given our loss of Bristol, I am thankful that we had the chance to love her, if even for a short time. She was the embodiment of strength, as she endured countless tests, x-rays, blood transfusions, needles, drugs – more than even most adults endure in an entire lifetime – and yet, she never gave up her fight. I think we counted that she ultimately had 11 blood transfusions in her 9 short weeks of life, and doctors and nurses were constantly amazed by her high tolerance for medications, requiring as much as 2-3 times the strength of doses usually needed by a baby of her age and size. SHE was strong. SHE was remarkable. BRISTOL was extraordinary.
By comparison, I was/am quite weak and average.
I guess people expect me to be overwhelmed by grief and sadness to a point to where I can’t even get out of bed. Or maybe they expect me to cry uncontrollably all the time. But I guess I can’t comprehend being that person when I still have so much to live for. I have Bella, a beautiful miracle who relies on me for sustenance. I have Blaine, who provides a love that gives me strength to keep going. And I have friends and family that show a support that shows me there are angels here on earth to watch over me when times get rough.
No, I am not strong. All I have done is to do my best to give my daughters the best chance at life, and in many ways I feel that I have even failed. I failed to carry them anywhere close to full term, putting them in all sorts of danger. And I failed to help Bristol grow a decent pair of lungs, which ultimately cost her her life. What I did manage to do is visit them everyday – though only for a few hours – and supply them with my milk. That is all. How is that so remarkable? Women everyday all over the world love their children and supply them with milk – that’s just called being a mother.
No, I am not strong or remarkable or extraordinary. I’m just your average mother providing love to my children.
When people would talk about me being strong, I was always reminded of this song:
Twila Paris – The Warrior Is A Child – A Heart That Knows You Album Version
Your blog entry is beautifully and honestly written. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your baby went through a lot in her short time here. Even though she passed away, I wanted to just remind you that you have the right to FOIL her records and take them to other doctors, lawyers, and other experts to find out if perhaps the gave your daughter too much medications. The fact that the nurses commented that she was given more medication than usual despite her small size, raises a red flag in my own heart as a mom. This is just my opinion, I just wanted to remind you that you have that right to investigate whether your daughter was given the best available care.
You sound like a strong mother. I hope you take some time for yourself an nurture yourself as well. I have lived through Preeclampsia twice, and one miscarriage. When I delivered my son at 33 weeks I felt like a failure, and it still makes me upset that other women who may not be such great mothers have easier pregnancies. I feel jealous a lot. What gave me strength was something that a Rabbi said, and that is that there are many different types of souls, and some souls are so evolved they do not have to stay that long on earth, their purpose is to inspire love. ( kind of like what you see in some of the children who are handicapped who do not live long lives, and the babies who pass away before they are born…) I share that with you, in the hopes that it gives you the same comfort it gave me. I wish you peace.