"16 years ago, I gave birth to a quiet, bluish little body that wasn't breathing. Her cord had been so tightly wrapped around her neck, it was cut while she had not yet left my body. Then, her shoulders so strong and wide, she could not emerge. Our labor was painful for us both - long and difficult...and scary.
Alyssa and I faced our first real struggle together.
As I begged the staff to tell me if she was okay, I heard only silence... then finally, "Honey, we don't know."
Before too long, but an eternity, she finally screamed. Jeff left my side, after being sure I was okay enough, to go stand with her. When my voice became loud enough for Alyssa to hear me over the din of noises, Jeff says she turned her head towards me. When they placed her in my arms with my heart overflowing, I told her, "I've dreamed of you all my life."
And I had.
I'd always wanted to be a Mommy. Always. And, while I would have loved a son deeply, I had hoped and prayed for a healthy child above all. Yet, not so secretly, I wanted a daughter. I had saved years and years of dance costumes for dress up. I learned to do hair and tea parties in hopes of one day...
And I got to.
I got to do hair and tea parties and dancing with my very own daughter... even better when they became daughters! I remember the first time I danced with Alyssa in my arms... to an Amy Grant song, Baby Baby...I just wept for the gift and joy of it all. When Alyssa was a toddler, she used to ask me to sing "The stars are shining for you" song... I loved what she heard. And, EVERY SINGLE TIME I tap danced with her on my hip or shoulders or in my arms, she laughed. Big belly laughs.
I got to hear them. For ten years, ten months, 6 days and almost 6 hours, I got to hear her...laughing, playing, living, breathing, crying, struggling and... dying.
You all might imagine - and some of you know - that this is not an easy path...But, Alyssa walked, hobbled and hopped hers. She labored through her delivery and her illness with fortitude and strength...well loved. Beautiful and breathtaking.
And now, it is my turn. It is my turn to labor again... but this time the labor is long.
My grief remains a huge part of me. I continue to work to make friends with it - since it is here and not leaving - but it hurts. The Sword Piercing My Heart does not leave. Sometimes I can allow a moments distraction by keeping busy and staying focused. Other times, I can't think of anything except my baby and how much I miss her. I still torment myself with ways I could have/should have been or done something better. I try to comfort myself knowing that she had grace for me, forgave me my mistakes and loved me anyway... but I hate those things were there to begin with. Guilt is yet another painful companion to grief.
As you know, I had stopped writing much on this CaringBridge blog... but I bumped into a friend who has faithfully followed it - (actually, she planned to come see me at one of my work presentations) and she told my how much she missed hearing from me. I told her that no one really wants to hear my agony... and she replied that she did. What grace.
So, as Alyssa's time of birth and her birthday are here, I am hurting. I grieve every bit as much as I did five years ago. Just...she feels further away and I HATE that. I go to bed at night praying to dream of her and I wake disappointed...day after day. It is rather a brutal cycle.
But I'm trying.
Alyssa was very clear with me that no matter what happened to her, I had to stay and be a Mommy to Lexie. I am so, so proud of the young woman Lexie is becoming. Wise, articulate, funny and smart... caring, silly, cutting and compassionate...she is a force to be reckoned with and her debating skills are being honed as only a young teen can. And I am so proud. As I cried at supper one night, she was in the other room and came in to hug me. I apologized to her that she didn't have her sister...she said, "I'd say it's okay, Momma...but it isn't." I am grateful she channels her hurt into advocacy - at least a bit of it.
We are also trying to put energy into The Alyssa House. We have great hope for making a big difference in the lives of families with their children in crises. (Five families were well tended in 2017.) It helps to think Alyssa might has something big named in her honor.
Beyond that, please keep us in your prayers. This journey into being a bereaved parent stinks. It remains raw. I plan to hide in my home tomorrow - with Lexie - and look at pictures and remind myself that it was real.
The joy was real.
But so is the labor.
Live Alyssa Live!!!