Bristol

A Mother’s Memory

To meet me now, you would never know that I have just been through one of the toughest years of my life.  I have a beautiful, healthy 8-month-old daughter, an amazing husband and life partner, a nice house, a great dog, and – as of last week – a great job.  No, to meet me now, you would think I have the perfect life.  And I do…..now.  But just six months ago today, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.

I may never know why we had to go through all that we did.  Why are there so many babies born to families that don’t want them?  Why are healthy babies born to ladies who smoke or drink – or worse?  Why did my body reject my precious babies when I did everything right?  I don’t know.  I may never know.  But I am thankful that we got to have 9 weeks with our precious baby – enough time to make memories to last a lifetime.  In fact, when choosing the words for her headstone, we wanted to capture that sentiment.  After reading countless phrases, we finally found the perfect one:

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Bristol touched so many people in her short time.  Her story is one that will be remembered and told for years to come.  She was so tough and so brave.  I have no doubt that she would have been sassy and spunky just like her sister.  The Lord surely got “the best” when He called her back home.  This poem gave us great comfort when we were grieving:

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So He put His arms around you and whispered, “Come to me”.
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you pass away,
And although we love you dearly we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hardworking hands at rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us He only takes the best.
—-Unknown

The other poem that spoke to us during that time:

When God calls little children to dwell with Him above,
We mortals sometimes question the wisdom of His love.
For no heartache compares with the death of one small child,
Who does so much to make our world seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
So He picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them and so He takes but a few,
To make the land of Heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult, still somehow we must try.
The saddest word mankind knows will always be “Goodbye”.
So when a child departs, we who are left behind,
Must realize God loves children.
Angels are hard to find.
—-Unknown

Finally, for those unable to make Bristol’s memorial service, I wanted to share the letter I wrote for her:

letter to Bristol

We are so very lucky to have such an amazing angel watching over us!  We miss you, baby girl!

A Mother’s Strength

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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