After Amelia's diagnosis I immersed myself in information about Anencephaly.
I joined a Anencephaly support group for mother's carrying to term. I networked with Mom's that had traveled the same road with their precious babies, that we now found ourselves walking. The online/blogging community quickly embraced me and I felt supported and encouraged daily. In those first days, I'm not sure I can express how greatly those women helped me. They had the answers to questions I didn't even know to ask. It was somehow easier to reach out to these women than to my family and friends...I guess because I didn't have to face them and because they were the one's doing the explaining rather than me. They (sadly) had first hand knowledge of all that laid before me.
One of the comments I saw these other mother's make almost daily, was in regards to losing friends as a result of their loss. I was confused at the time, wondering how losing a child could possibly result in broken friendships. I thought, Surely that won't happen to us! As time went on, and we traveled the lonely road before us, sadly, I began to understand.
I can't say that I lost any friends during that time, but I did at times feel hurt and let down by people in my life that I would have expected to rally around Tim and I. It was difficult to sort through my disappointments at the time. It was hard to understand why I felt abandoned at a time when I needed my friends the most. In the end, I learned a great deal about my friendships, my family, about myself and about my Lord.
I learned that I had not been as good of a friend as I could have when my friends faced tragedy in their lives. In my ignorance, I had often coped out of offering love and support to them, saying to myself, "I shouldn't bother them at a time like this..." I had no idea how deafening silence could be.
I was also greatly blessed by my friends; loved and supported in countless ways. Friends and family grieved both for us and with us. Cards poured in and many sent thoughtful gifts, Facebook messages and emails. The editor of the paper where I work quickly began planning a blood drive in Amelia's honor. Strangers sent us gifts. I couldn't possibly list all the ways in which we were blessed by our friends, old and new. Today I am going to focus on one friendship that meant the world to me (and still does).
Ashley is a college girlfriend of mine. We quickly bonded as college freshman thrown together by our new found sisterhood in Chi Omega at the University of Nebraska (Go Big Red!). Ashley and I found out we were expecting our "second" kiddos just weeks apart. I was so excited to have another preggo mama to share the daily joys and irritations of pregnancy with! When we received Amelia's diagnosis the dynamics of our friendship could have easily changed...after all, her baby was going to live - and mine was not. It would have been easy for her to pull away, perhaps in fear that her pregnancy would only serve to further wound my broken spirit. Instead she came to my rescue. She was always available to chat, genuine in her love for me and for Amelia. She was a gift from God.
She walked with me, and I will never forget it.
I always felt like I was completely at ease talking with her about my daily trials and joys carrying Amelia, my disappointments, my planning for her birth and for her funeral. Her words were always so gentle, affectionate and honest. There were so few people I felt at ease and able to completely let my guard down around. It was such a relief to talk to Ashley. She was my friend, preggers buddy, prayer warrior and my sounding board. I can't imagine how difficult it was for her to hear me talk about funeral arrangements for Amelia as if was normal, when it was anything but! I couldn't ask for a better friend.
I am still a member of the Anencephaly support group that offered so much support in while I carried my sweet girl. It seems weekly I find myself reading a new mother's story, so much like my own. It breaks my heart every time. Our stories all begin and end eerily the same, but it's the middle that varies...it has one major variable, and that is the support offered to them by the friends, family and medical staff. I always say an immediate prayer for each new parent that joins our group. It goes something like this...
Dear Lord, I ask that you surround this mommy and daddy with your love and your peace at this tragic time in their lives. Lord, rally those around them to show your love and grace through their words and actions as they travel the road you have laid out before them with their sweet baby.
Lord, please, give them an Ashley...
A Different Kind of Before and After
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