Beginning to Heal

By Lily's Mother

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” I disagree. For me, March will always be the cruelest month.

It was a normal morning. The world was filled with the giddy anticipation and wonder that a new day holds. Then the phone rang-the jarring interruption of joy that only a ringing phone can bring. My doctor very gently told me that they had the results of my amnio. There was a long pause long enough for me to know that whatever she would tell me next would be devastating. It was. She calmly tried to talk about chromosomes and missing chromosomes and could I reach my husband and meet her at her office?

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I felt as if something was crawling up inside me and sucking all the air and oxygen out of my body. When I finally did speak, the only chromosomes I wanted to know about were the X and Y. My only question was, “is it a girl?” Another long pause followed by a gentle yes. I remember reassuring her that I was fine and that my husband and I would be there in an hour.

My husband did come home and we drove to her office in a godawful silence, knowing the whole while we had made an unbearable choice. The right choice, but a completely and utterly devastating choice. There were no words to fill that silence. My doctor was kind and gentle and said that her office would arrange everything. Her only question was whether I wanted to be conscious or unconscious.

“Unconscious” I automatically replied (a decision I would later come to regret.) You'’ll have to go into the city then, she replied. Several hours later we were told that the only doctor who performs the procedure was on vacation and would be back in a week. I was his first appointment on the day of his return.

I don’'t know how I survived that week of knowing that I was carrying a baby girl I had so desperately wanted and was going to lose. And to lose her by my own choice. I think I was already unconscious and numb long before the anesthesia. My baby kept moving and kicking and I kept begging her to stop. I did a lot of begging that week;— begging for her to stop moving, begging for her love and begging for her forgiveness.

I wanted to die with her and make all my pain go away. The only thing that kept me together (and barely together, I might add) was my two young boys. I could see when I scared them and I knew enough to reconnect with them and let them know that somehow this would all be alright.

We have decided not to have another baby. Another baby could not replace Lily. She was not with me for very long, but long enough for my boys and I to love her. My boys always refer to us a family of five. When they are asked to draw their families at school, they always include Lily, drawn with wings and “that circle thing that goes around her head you know Mama, it lights up.” My oldest reminded me the other day that Lily lives in our hearts and we can see her and talk to her any time we want. There is nothing more alive than love.

It has been two years since my daughter died, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and wonder what life would be like with her. But the beauty and grace of life is that it does go on, filled with all the joys and pleasures and loves that life holds for us. My wounds begin to heal, and life feels good.


Books on Loss and Grief

Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories of Interrupting a Much-Wanted Pregnancy

The Dive :: A Memoir

A Time to Decide a Time to Heal: For Parents Making Difficult Decisions About Babies They Love

Precious Lives Painful Choices: A Prenatal Decision-Making Guide

Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart, Revised Edition: Surviving the Death of Your Baby

Empty Arms: Coping With Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss

Unspeakable Losses: Healing From Miscarriage, Abortion, And Other Pregnancy Loss

Surviving Pregnancy Loss: A Complete Sourcebook for Women and Their Families

Difficult Decisions: For Families Whose Unborn Baby Has a Serious Problem

Books for Fathers, Family, Children and Friends

Couple Communication After a Baby Dies: Differing Perspectives

For Better or Worse: For Couples Whose Child Has Died

How to Say it When You Don't Know What to Say: The Right Words For Difficult Times

A Guide For Fathers: When A Baby Dies

When Your Friend's Child Dies: A Guide to Being a Thoughtful and Caring Friend

When Pregnancy Fails: Families Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death

What You Can Say When You Don't Know What to Say: Reaching Out to Those Who Hurt

Books about Trying Again and Pregnancy after Loss

Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss

Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss

Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death