Someone asked me today about the sign on my truck. I tried to be brief and not give a lot of detail, which, unknowingly, always leads to more questions. I never mind talking about Savannah at all. In fact, most of the time, I am happy to do so. Sharing her life is another way of sharing her with the world. After all, what good does it do anyone to just go on with my life and pretend that she never existed? What kind of mother would that make me?
Anyway, as the questions got more invasive and I explained more about what happend, I felt all the anger coming back. I have worked so hard to get to where I am today, accepting Savannah for who she is. I often hear the comment, "I just can't even imagine."
Well, allow me to explain it to you. Pretend that you are in a wonderful marriage and have a beautiful little boy and now you are expecting a little girl, which is secretly what you always hoped for. You go shopping and pick out the most amazing outfits and dresses from Strasburg and all sorts of online boutiques. You decorate the nursery exactly the way you had been envisioning in your mind since you were a little girl. Everything is going fine until you hear the words Down Syndrome. But, you know that you will love your little girl unconditionally and will do your best to be her Advocate for life. You know that the career of being a ballerina will not be possible but you focus on the postives and continue to anxiously await the arrival of your precious miracle. The nursery is ready, just as you pictured. The crib is ready. The carseat is in the backseat, approved installation by the local fire department. You have your bags packed with the most adorable outfits for the hospital possible with at least 40 bows packed and at least 3 pairs of shoes for each day spent there. She is your child, after all. There is a sign that you ordered to hang outside your front door that says "We welcome with joy and love Savannah Grace Renfro" and cannot wait to display it so that all of your neighbors who have been watching you waddle back and forth each day to the mailbox can stop asking you when the baby is coming. You have the Baptism scheduled for 3 weeks later and a Baptismal Gown that you yourself wore already pressed and waiting.
You think to yourself that even if your daughter has Down Syndrome, your biggest concern is how the older people at Church will look at her and wonder if she will be judged as she grows. Seriously, that is your biggest concern.
And then something happens. You go to the hospital and deliver a baby that is not alive. Something much bigger than your biggest nightmare has just happened. There are no answers, no explanations. You watch babies come out of the OR just having been delivered via C-section and you hear the woman in the next room laboring and the horse-thumping sound of her baby's heartbeat, who is still very much alive. And you have nothing.
You go home and look in the backseat of your car as your husband drives. You see the empty carseat, the handmade blankets you had to cover that newborn baby still folded up, unused. You return home to a nursery that is beautifully decorated but no baby to enjoy it. You look at the closet full of clothes, all still with tags on it that extend from Newborn sizes to 4T, because you learned with your son that no child stays in Newborn sizes for long. You were smarter and bought ahead so the seasons would match up. You notice the 3 long strands of ribbon that neatly hold each and every bow that you found to be just perfect for your daughter and the shoe rack that holds more shoes than any girl would ever possibly need. You see that sign that you were waiting to put up, layed out neatly on the bed that was decorated to match the nursery bedding so you could stay up late at night to nurse your daughter.
The nursery is too much to take, so you walk into the kitchen and see all of the Dr. Browns bottles neatly lined up from smallest to tallest. Maybe the kitchen wasn't such a good place to go. The garage has to be safer. There you find the cases and cases of diapers that you stocked up on because you knew exactly how long she would be in each size. It's all staring you in the face, but you have nothing.
That's how it felt. I still go back to that time and re-live every single moment of the devastation and sadness and anger. You can't imagine what it's like? There you go. Try to imagine it. It's the worst possible nightmare that can happen. And sadly, it can happen to anyone when they least expect it.
Eric and I are older, but not too old. We are both college educated and smart people. We are not low-income or low intelligence or low socio-economic class. We are Republicans after all! This isn't supposed to happen to people like us. But it did. It happens more often than you think. It happens to good people. Sometimes, life just isn't fair and there is nothing you can do about it. I'm not sharing this to scare anyone, but rather to help people understand what it's like.
Maybe one day, this won't be such a taboo topic. Maybe someday, this won't happen anymore.
All I know is that it did happen, and it happened to me. If this happens to someone that you know, perhaps you can be a better friend to them instead of saying "I just can't imagine."