April 29, 2014

A year later, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

The past eight days, David and I have been celebrating our first and only child. Our son. Our Samuel. I can't believe it has been a year already. That a whole year ago Samuel was born into this world. Perfect. Beautiful. Pure love. And yet, as we celebrate and recall all the grief and joy we've experienced in the past year I still struggle to believe that David and I are parents to a baby who lived for only 12 days. Some days I still find it hard to believe I am a mother.

One huge block I've been trying to overcome since January is accepting that my situation is in fact rare. Yes, 1 out of 4 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, infant death or stillbirth...but my situation is still very, very rare. Only one out of 2,000 confirmed pregnancies--that is 0.0005%--will result in a fatal chromosomal mutation such as T13 or T18. 0.0005%. Then why do I still think this will happen again? Why do I still worry for the babies of my friends? Why...am I still jealous of those friends who have healthy babies? If my baby could be born with Trisomy 13, then it must not be so rare. I keep expecting this to happen to other babies because I know it can be a very real occurrence. Not because I want it to happen. Never, ever would I wish that upon someone. But this expectation just lingers. Heavy. It has become a huge, massive brick wall blocking me from proceeding on the hopeful, optimistic path I once walked. This has been the block I am struggling to overcome since the holidays. I just can't accept that my baby was the 1 in 2,000.

Sure, I can see that God has given David and I the grace to be parents to a T13 baby, to be able to pick up and carry this cross. That we were chosen among all our family, friends and colleagues to parent such a baby. I can see that we were blessed with a miracle simply by the fact that Samuel was born living, and lived for 12 days. I can see that God wanted Samuel to meet his parents, and that God wanted us to meet Samuel. I can see that through Samuel's birth and death and acceptance into Heaven through the sacrament of Baptism, David and I have been given a great gift. That we have received many blessings as a result of Samuel. And I have seen how the love of God is more powerful than anything on this limited Earth. More powerful than fear. More powerful than pain. More powerful than death.

That doesn't mean I still don't ask why me...

Through all the blogs, articles, books and doctors' wisdom I have of course become a well-versed and experienced student of grief. Why me is an expected, natural, normal part of the grieving process. And grieving is cyclical [oh joy]. And won't really ever end. It eases. It lessens. It can become peaceful if the event of which one grieves is embraced. All I am saying is that sometimes it is very, very, very difficult to remember to place my trust in Him. To offer my sorrow, my pain and fear to Jesus.

I have been thinking a great deal about Blessed Mother Teresa in the past week as I try to understand how my fears and doubts coincide with my faith. I don't need to go into the details of her work in order to help one understand the intensity of what she encountered. Day in and day out she witnessed the pains and sufferings of millions of people. It is perfectly understandable, perfectly logical that she would experience doubt of God's love and mercy as a result. Where was His endless love and mercy while He allowed so many millions of His very own to suffer in such a way? Yet she never, ever gave up. Her doubt and her own grief for these people remained present throughout her ministry, as her writings published in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.

“If I ever become a Saint–I will surely be one of “darkness.” I will continually be absent from Heaven–to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”
–Mother Teresa of Calcutta   

Like Mother Teresa, I have not lost faith. I have not lost hope. I have not lost love. But those three can be hidden in the darkness of grief and fear. Her example of discipline is one I strive to model. Never give up. Keep listening. Even in darkness, keep watch. And by being disciplined like Blessed Mother Teresa, I have seen how God continues to call me. Continues to offer His grace so that I may push on.

He reveals His love to me through the Sacrament of Marriage. Some days I see God through my own sacrifices within our marriage. Others, God speaks directly through David's actions. David admits he does not always know what to say or how to provide reassurance, but there have been moments where he speaks so freely that it can be nothing less than the Holy Spirit guiding both of us toward God. Awe and wonder. Total awe and wonder in those moments.

I thank God for the gift of the Sacraments, for the very reason that when I feel alone or lost all I simply must do is turn to, or receive one of those Sacraments. In marriage, we receive the sacrament each time we give fully--that is physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually--to each other, through the act of marital embrace (a.k.a. sex). I have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and witness God's unconditional love every day in the Mass. If I miss Mass on Sundays--and therefore miss Eucharist--boy, am I in bad shape. And of course there's the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This, of all the Sacraments, is the one I feel the most re-connection with God. I have come to understand the gift of the Sacraments more deeply as I have been working harder to fight through the darkness. God keeps calling. And I continue to [eventually] find him.

There are still times where not even receiving a Sacrament can help me feel God's love and presence in my life. Sometimes, the darkness I feel is well, dark. Last October, I stumbled upon a God's providence kind of moment. At that point, I experienced my first bit of really dark darkness. God was no where to be found (well, He was...I was just a bit distracted by my own fears at the time). And then, out of no where I decided to catch up on reading my blogs. That very day, Heather over at Mama Knows, Honeychild wrote "Go to Hell, You Old Bastard!" If you haven't read it yet and could use a strong belly laugh, I encourage you to do so. After you're done here, of course. Upon reading and laughing and crying over Heather's profound articulation of the push and pull of good vs. evil, I felt called to learn about the Divine Mercy Chaplet. For the first time in my life I completely offered my own cross to Jesus and His Divine Mercy. Windows were suddenly open in that nasty dark room. A weight seemed to be lifted off my chest. Since then, when the room darkens, when I feel like I can no longer carry my cross I pull out my Rosary beads (or my Laudate app, because we all know my phone goes with me everywhere and the Rosary does not necessarily...) and spend five minutes with Jesus. Amazing what a little time with Jesus can do to lighten the darkness in our lives.

A year later, I'd really like to say I have rid myself of fear and worry and anger and doubt. That I am in total peace. But the reality is, I will only be in total peace once I am received into Heaven. Until then, I will continue to struggle. I will continue to need the Sacraments and prayer. I will continue to need your prayers. I know many, many people in this world pray for us. I pray for you too. Thank you does not adequately express the gratitude I feel for your prayers. Will you in turn accept my prayers? May you be filled with intense faith and hope for Heaven and eternity with our Lord Jesus. And may God bless you always. Amen.


  1. You got this, girl. I love you.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    My friend Nella told me about your blog post. First, my sincere condolences for the loss of your precious son. The pictures of you and little Samuel is just so beautiful. You are a wonderful mama. Yes, you are still and always will be a mom.
    I am in awe of how God used my little blog to touch your heart and bring you closer to Him through the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It's amazing what He can do despite all of our faults and failings..I feel quite privileged to be even a small part of that.
    I will pray for you and I would most certainly accept your prayers as well! I am certain that God has wonderful things in store for you..you are right: never give up, never lose hope! I believe for you...a new sunrise tomorrow:) You are a beautiful soul.. Love Heather

  3. Elizabeth you are such a beautiful mother. Thank you for sharing your process with us.