I don’t know why my daughter died. The words “sudden unexplained infant death” rest on the line of her death certificate. I have talked to the firemen that worked on her that day. I have called the medical examiner who autopsied her numerous times. I have talked to pediatricians and those who claim to specialize in baby loss. There is just no definitive answer. Her body just stopped working right. She stopped breathing and her heart stopped, or her heart stopped and she stopped breathing. There was no suffocation. No known disease. No rare genetic malfunction. Nothing. She just died. This perfect, happy little baby girl that was smiling and cooing at me just moments before I laid her down.
And, I used to be jealous of mothers who had an explanation. That knew ahead of time that things weren’t going to work out, or had a chance to fight for their baby, or at least had a name for the terrible reason why.
But, what I’ve come to find out, is even those mothers blame themselves. Even those mothers wonder what they could have done differently to alter life’s horrible circumstances. Could have possibly done to still have their sweet child in their arms. Even those mothers go crazy with all the thoughts inside their heads of a million different ‘what ifs’ and scenarios and ‘if we could have only…’
Because it’s not supposed to be this way. Mothers are not supposed to have to say goodbye to the love that grew under their hearts. Mothers are not supposed to bury their children. Or outlive their children. Or sit helplessly on the sidelines as they watch very last breaths. Mothers aren’t supposed to give last kisses as they try to memorize every last part of their child. It’s just not supposed to happen.
I just know with every bit of my heart that God did not intend for life to be like this. He did not plan this elaborate scheme for me to get pregnant and have this perfect baby just so I could lose her seven weeks later and learn a lesson. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. Or that God needed my baby in Heaven. Or that I somehow did something to deserve this. I do not believe any of that at all.
But, I do believe that we live in a fallen, broken world. And, because of that, sometimes life just sucks. It super sucks. Sucks everything right out of you. And leaves you with broken pieces and broken dreams and unanswered questions and a devil laughing in the background. It leaves you trying to wrap your brain around the unimaginable and only coming up with blame. I must have done something wrong. I am her mother. I am supposed to protect her and take care of her and somehow. Somehow in the mix of everything, I must have missed something or done something or not done something that has left me with my arms aching. Yearning to hold my baby girl just one more time.
And, you know what? That can be crippling. That can be the thing that takes us under. Causing anxiety or depression, or trapping us in a hole of despair. The truth of the matter is, dear sweet mommas, is that I didn’t want my baby girl to die. I loved her with every bit of everything I’ve got. I’m not saying I did everything right. But I am saying I was simply doing the best I could, with what I’ve got. Those are the truths that I can rest in. Those are the words I remind myself of when the night comes and my heart gets heavy.
I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But, I do believe that God can do something beautiful with all that we surrender to Him (Ecclesiastes 3:11). All the unanswered questions and reasons why and mistakes and blame. All the ways we thought our life was going to look. All the heartache and disappointment and broken everything. That He can make the very worst count for something good (Romans 8:28). That He can make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). And with grace for ourselves, and grace for others, and leaving the blame on the sidelines, there becomes room for hope. And, there becomes room for peace. A peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).