The day you realise your world as you know it has changed forever is a startling one. One that hits you like a ton of bricks. One when you question how the rest of the world is able to keep moving and functioning, oblivious to your the pain and suffering. That fateful day for me was the 10th November 2016. I received the news that my expectant child, a precious baby boy, had an open spina bifida and Arnold Chari Malformation Type 2.
Even as those words roll out my mouth now, I still cannot believe that this was and is my reality, exactly a month ago today.
The journey has been surreal in so many ways. There are moments when time has stood still, and moments where I’ve lost time. But through it all, the favour and grace of God has seen me through. I believe Malachi was sent to me for a reason and a season. I named him Malachi weeks before I knew I was having a boy, only to discover his name means my angel, and angel he is indeed.
At a time when life is already so challenging, I have chosen to focus on the beauty and wonder of my unborn child. He was too precious for this world. I have to believe this in order to remain sane, for I understand that there was nothing I did wrong and sometimes science and biology don’t always work perfectly. Despite this ordeal, I do appreciate the new awareness of the wonder of children, the blessings that they are.
From this experience, there are many lessons I have learned and a hope in a future that is bright. For if you can make it through choosing to let your unborn child go “home,” you can make it through anything. You have a strength that others may envy and will never know, so use that strength and channel it into for greater good.
There are things that I have done over the past few weeks that may help another family who is going through the same experience. Although these activities and moments cannot take the physical pain away, I pray they help comfort you during the dark days.
My husband bought a beautiful bonsai tree as a memento to remember Malachi by and to keep amongst us as a family. I’m able to see it every morning when I wake up. I take care of it I would have taken care of him. It’s therapeutic and helps me feel connected to him through a living spirit, albeit a plant.
As a mom, my pain has been particularly different as I was blessed enough to carry my son for 18 weeks. The trauma and sorrow waking up with an empty womb almost broke my heart. To help me cope with the psychological and emotional trauma, I bought a ring designed as a DNA strand to remind me of the bond only the two of us share. I wear it all day every day, to keep him close.
I found during these past few weeks my mind is full of so many thoughts and lessons I never want to forget. I bought a journal and started recording all the thoughts and feelings as I experienced them, in order to let my anxiety go and work through my healing process.
My husband and I made a conscious decision to communicate whatever it was we were feeling and stay connected to one another. As challenging as this experience is, I was not experiencing it alone. We needed to lean on each other when the days and nights grew dark. We also had therapy before and after the medical procedure was done to work through our feelings and grow stronger as a couple. I love him dearly for the man and husband he has been through this time.
I grew closer to God and leaned on His Word during my darkest times. Sometimes it would be difficult to even get out of bed, but recording and reading bible verses kept me encouraged and hopeful for a brighter tomorrow. This helped me get through each day. I write verses that speak to me on Post-It notes and stick them on my bathroom mirror where I can reflect on them daily.
I’ve continued to take care of my health and body. Being a mother again is an important desire of mine and I want to be in the best health possible if God decides to bless me once more. I’ve started eating healthy and exercising slowly as I get my body into shape. I’ve also continued with my prenatal vitamins. This is important for all pregnancies, especially where there’s a history of NTD.
These are some of the ways I have tried to remain hopeful and expectant in a brighter tomorrow. My prayer for you is that you are able to find the strength and grace to face each day with a renewal of spirit, for this too shall pass. You may never forget the loss of a child, but take heart and be kind to yourself during this time. A new day will arise and your angel in heaven has made you a better person for it! Lean in and press on… your little one expects no less from you.
CC0 Public domain bonsai tree.image by Wikilmages via Pixabay.