Grateful

People tell us to be grateful for what we have. Be grateful for the children we already have. Be grateful we can try again. It sounds nice. It sounds hopeful. It sounds reassuring. And believe me, we are. We are more grateful for our living children than you can possibly imagine. But, do you know what else we’re grateful for? Things that it would never occur to the average person to be grateful for. Things the average person can’t even comprehend.

We are grateful that, after miscarriage after miscarriage, we have finally carried a baby long enough to feel it move. We are grateful that our baby lived long enough for us to hold it, fully formed, in our hands. We are grateful we got to hold our baby alive, for a minute, or an hour, or for days longer than the doctors expected. We are grateful for the pain of labor, because it’s something to hold onto. We are grateful for pictures that other people can’t stand to look at. We are grateful for a body to bury, or cremate, a place to visit.

That is if we have that much in the end. Some of us don’t. We are grateful for the grainy sonogram pictures of the tiny form we can barely pick out. We are grateful for bloody laundry tubs hidden away in the basement, for teddy bears and blankets we hoped would be cuddled by someone who never will. We are grateful for medical professionals who applaud us for asking for something to bury, instead of calling that something the ‘products of conception.’ We are grateful for those who hug us, who grieve with us instead of offering platitudes.

When my friend first told us there was cause for concern for her pregnancy, I tried to be hopeful. My surface, optimistic hopes were that the sonogram was wrong, things would improve, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But my underneath hopes were for these horrible things to have to be grateful for. The dregs which are the best that we can expect in the worst of situations. Further testing has confirmed that is where our hopes must lie.

I hope she will carry her son as long as she possibly can. I hope she will have supportive doctors and nurses to get her there, and to surround her when that day comes. I hope she will have pictures to remember him by, family to hold him for whatever time he has. I hope she will be allowed to grieve, allowed to cry, allowed to scream. I hope that nobody says unkind things, or thoughtless things, or things they think will help that really hurt. I hope that she will know, every step of the way, that we are here with her, no matter what.

And that is all we can do. And I can’t quite be grateful for that.

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