I was feeling a bit sorry for myself leading up to what would have been my baby’s third birthday. I thought about how much the time of his passing nearly destroyed me and my faith and how losing my baby changed me forever.
I took some moments to let it all in and feel it and absorb it, then I focused on what he truly meant to me and what a beautiful blessing he was and is.
It’s not that I want to bypass the pain, I can feel the pain at the drop of a hat. The truth is though, all he ever showed me was strength and love.
They say that you are never given anything that you can’t handle and I suppose that’s true. I hope it’s also true that if you can overcome the worst experiences then you must be able to handle the best experiences too. Goodness knows they are much more fun to take.
To carry on when life delivers you some hard lessons is a choice we have to make. To gain strength requires the frequent flexing of a muscle. So too with resilience. It takes practice to spring back after a knock down. We need to think of ourselves as elastic and that pushing us down will only cause us to pop back up into an even better shape.
I recently read a study that looked into the resilience of adults who, as children, were born into conditions where they were the recipients of cruelty and abuse. The common thread of those who went on to create lives free of dysfunction, was the understanding that the conditions they were suffering wouldn’t last forever. That one day they would be free of the terrible circumstances and free to create better lives. They found ways to escape within their own minds just to get through the abuse, knowing that a better day was coming. Having suffered unimaginable horrors they went onto become functional adults. They refused to allow the conditions of their past to dictate their future. Many born into these circumstances just carry on with the same dysfunctions, but those who master resilience create a much healthier existence.
That’s a dramatic example but my point is that everyone has a choice. Sometimes it’s as simple as deciding to survive the difficult conditions of today, knowing that tomorrow will be different. You may have nine bad days but on the tenth day, something shifts and things turn around. If you can keep a good attitude then all you have to do is survive the difficulty knowing that eventually you will come to a better place.
People who are given challenging lessons develop a hide tougher than the revolting beef jerky my husband loves to eat because they are brilliant in mastering this technique. They know that what happens to them is not the end. It’s just an interlude. It’s a season of difficulty but it will pass. You have to take what you have learned and push on confidently without bitterness, without self doubt, and without holding onto it like a badge of honour.
I remember being in hospital trying to recover and deal with my new life after my baby was born when a friend came to visit. His wife had also just given birth and he was telling us about how well she was recovering on account of all of the pilates classes she had taken during her pregnancy. Under any other circumstance it would have been a normal discussion and yet I couldn’t help but feel sheer disbelief, struggling to comprehend how different our stories were.
I’d had the most awful pregnancy right from the start and attending a pilates class was the absolute last thing on my priority list. It was right next to poking my eyes out and removing my spleen for fun. I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone but it occurred to me that my story couldn’t have been any further removed from just about every other pregnancy tale I had ever heard.
I remember my heart starting to beat wildly which wasn’t good because my blood pressure was already at dangerous levels. It was probably a bit of jealousy, who am I kidding, it was a bucket load of jealousy, probably a bit of confusion and probably a lot of heartache and pain knowing what a horror story of a situation I was in.
I smiled politely and I hope that I said something along the lines of how wonderful that was for her, all the while fighting back tears. I hated myself for feeling that way.
Later it occurred to me that no one could have understood what I had gone through and nothing anyone said was right at that time. It also occurred to me that it was ok to feel whatever I wanted to feel.
It would have been very easy to become bitter, however I figured out very quickly that those feelings didn’t serve me or make me feel the way I wanted to feel.
There are always a million reasons we can call on to keep us feeling down, however there are always just as many reasons to keep us looking up. You have to keep shining, keep looking forward, keep your head high and show the world your grace and strength.
Ultimately, I had to find a way to feel ok about what happened to me and my baby and be at rest with the situation. I had to accept that my pregnancy wasn’t what I expected it to be and that was that. I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t do anything except to concentrate on a better feeling towards it all. I wanted to feel better so I could feel peace. So that I could open my heart to the possibility of another baby and another chance at love.
So what do I do now when I start to feel sorry for myself? I turn my attention to what a hero my tiny baby was. That’s right a tiny hero who never uttered a sound but who spoke volumes with his actions. With all the odds against him he lived. He fought. He oozed strength. He proved to me everyday how much resilience he had. The conditions of his life were bleak and difficult but he showed up and worked hard to turn it all around. He wanted to be here. He wanted to strive, to thrive, to have a chance. He was spunky and brilliant but ultimately he couldn’t stay.
After a lot of healing and grieving I gave up on focussing on what could have been and delved right into what was. I had been given 15 days with the most incredible human I had ever met. I had witnessed a miracle. He could have been taken from me multiple times during the pregnancy but he hung on. It was as if he wanted to meet me just as badly as I wanted to meet him. We both fought really hard to make that happen.
I may not have had the chance to attend an antenatal class, have a baby shower or participate in any exercise classes that would have given me the core of a 20 year old ballerina, however, I was given the chance to meet and feel the love of the greatest hero I have ever known. I got to see the best of humanity in action, and I’m pretty sure you don’t get that in your average pilates class.