About six months ago, I received an email from a good friend of mine. It was the type of email I didn't want to receive or read but there it was in my inbox. It was the type of email I imagine I am reading incorrectly as I'm reading it. No, I must have misunderstood. But there was no mistake. The email was there and I understood it.
Heather and I have been friends since junior high school. In fact, our immediate group of friends is still a group of friends. We all email and get together whenever possible. We may go months without seeing or hearing from each other but we are still a group of friends. And if something happens, we will be there to support each one.
When Abbey was born sleeping we were told that, statistically speaking, stillbirth occurs in one out of every 100 births. More recently, I have seen one in 115. Maybe the odds are lessening. Maybe no one really knows. What I really want to know is how is it possible that in my small group of friends, two of us would have sleeping babies. And to make the odds even more impossible, Heather also has identical (twin) girls.
Baby James was unexpectedly and tragically born sleeping. When I read Heather's email, I was sad. Sad for her and her family. Sad because I know the road ahead. Sad because no parent should have to go through this. I was angry because I was reminded that no one knows why it happens, which has been a source of frustration for me for the past four, almost five, years.
A few friends emailed me to ask, "How are you doing? Are you okay?" I was reminded that I have these wonderful friends. I was grateful that they emailed me to check in but in reality, I was okay. I was okay because I've been living with Abbey's birth and death, death and birth everyday now. It's not something that I want to forget. In fact, I struggle to retain the memories.
Their emails made me think because there are certain things that are triggers. Things that do upset me and I hadn't really thought about it from that perspective until their emails. You see, as a whole, Abbey is not someone that I want to forgot so I struggle to remember her death and birth because that's the only time that we had with her. It's not an event that I want to forgot, like a car accident or being robbed at gunpoint. But there are specific moments of her birth that are difficult to relive.
For example, take a woman who is pregnant with her second baby. She has a two year old daughter. Someone asks her if she is going to find out if she is having a boy or a girl and she responds with, "No, we are going to wait. Hearing it's a girl was such a great surprise. We want to experience that again."
That's a trigger. Rich and I wanted that same surprise that everyone else who waits to find out wants. We wanted to hear the doctor joyfully announce, "It's a girl!" Instead, we were greated with silence. I had to ask. There was no joyful answer.
And then there's the whole God thing. I really struggle with trying to understand God. Do you know how many birth stories have statements like "God listened to all of your prayers and the baby was born safe" or "The baby's heart rate suddenly dropped and we knew she was in trouble by the way the nurses started running around. We prayed and God answered our prayers. Her heart rate returned to normal and she was born a few minutes later."
That's a trigger for me. Did God not hear my prayers as I clutched my tummy, crying, waiting for Rich to pay the overtalkative landscaper so we could get to the hospital. I knew something was wrong. "Please God, let the baby be okay. Please."
I can't say for sure whether or not I believe that there is a Heaven. I like to believe that there is a place and so I call it Heaven because everyone understands what that means. Either way, there's a place and both Abbey and James are there. And in my heart, I know that they know each other.