Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If They Only Knew

by Jessi Snapp

I carried my son during the warm months of spring into the heat of summer. It happened to be t-ball season for my oldest child and on the first day of practice, I found myself sitting next to a woman in the bleachers. She too was expecting a baby but was a few months further along. We sat next to each other and spoke only a few words as we both focused on watching our boys. We both wore stretchy summer maternity shorts and tight fitting t-shirts to show off our baby bumps. We were both married and had boys the same age and we both were expecting our second child, both of which were boys. To bystanders, we probably looked like friends.

As the season carried on and we learned that our son had a life-limiting condition, I had to watch this other woman carry her healthy baby boy and live out a blissful carefree pregnancy. Three times a week I had to sit in her presence and I was painfully reminded how very different our lives really were despite having so much in common.

During the warm spring months, the cottonwood trees start to fill the air with their seeds and it resembles falling snow. I would sit in the cottonwood-filled air as I watched my five-year-old play. I would soak in the beauty of the world around me as I tried to keep myself together during some of the most trying times of my life. I sat just a few feet away from this other woman, who was a painful reminder of what I wanted and could not have.

The end of the season drew near and one day the other woman was nowhere to be found. She had delivered her baby. Her beautiful, healthy baby boy. The following week she came back and sat on the field as she held her newborn son. She sat and cuddled him in the cottonwood-filled air as everyone "oohed" and "ahhed" over her new baby. It was a beautiful sight, but a heartbreaking one for me...the pregnant mom sitting on the other side of the field, inwardly praying for a single moment like that.

The reality is, I didn't want her life. I didn't want her baby. I wanted that moment. I wanted it with my baby. I wanted to sit in the warm spring air and hold my baby ever so tightly. I wanted him to feel the warmth of the sun and my love as people "oohed" and "ahhed" at how beautiful he was. I wanted to tell them, "Doctors didn't think he would make it... but look at him! He's beating the odds! We are grateful for this time." I accepted that his life would be limited, but I prayed and hoped that I could make precious memories with him like the one the other woman had with her baby boy.

I sat and dreamt of that moment and what it might be like to venture out with my son
who would require oxygen and a feeding tube. I hoped for just one, somewhat normal moment with him in my arms. A moment that other mothers typically don't realize the beauty of.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was surrounded by expectant mothers who seemingly failed to realize how blessed they were. Like the mother who sat across from me and complained about her pregnancy and how resentful she was because of the weight she gained. Or the expectant mother I overheard at the park telling another woman, "Thank God you aren't pregnant... It's hell!" It seemed that all around me there were expectant mothers who were all expecting healthy babies and failing to see how truly lucky they were. Though I am sure I was hypersensitive to it, I felt like an outsider looking in, constantly shaking my head and thinking, "if they only knew."

If they only knew how lucky they were not to have the impending doom of losing a baby lurking over them. If they only knew how sleepless nights because of a crying baby are so much more peaceful than sleepless nights caused by complete and utter emptiness. If they only knew that losing those ten extra pounds pales in comparison to losing a massive piece of your heart. A piece you will never get back.

If only they knew how a single moment could mean so much to someone like me. If only they knew how desperately I wanted things to be different. If only they knew what it was like to plan a birth and a funeral simultaneously. Maybe then, they could see the blessings in the mundane moments. The moments I dreamt about and never had. The ones that now make my knees collapse and cause countless tears to fall. The ones that I would have done anything for.

The moments that are now just a figment of my imagination.
~ ~ ~

Jessi Snapp resides in Indiana where she is pursuing her master’s degree in social work. She is married to her wonderful husband, Karl, and she is a mother to one living child and three in Heaven. After enduring two losses to miscarriage, Jessi became pregnant with her son Silas Edison who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 20 weeks gestation. Silas was born and passed on August 20, 2014. Though his life was brief, he is loved for a lifetime. In Silas’ memory, Jessi turned his nursery into an art studio where she creates custom memorial art for other babies gone too soon. You can find her heart-centered work at LuminousLightStudio and on Facebook.


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