Recently, I have become very good friends with Tami C Gaines, the author of Preemie Parents. In her book, Tami shares her lessons learned as the mother of twins born at twenty five weeks into her pregnancy. Tami and I share the same desire to learn and grow through adversity and I am inspired by her story. As I watch my friend walk in her greatness, I am reminded of a lost chapter in my own. It is one that I seldom share or discuss and until recently, I never realized that this lost chapter in my story is one that has defined so much of who I have become today.
Some of you may know that I am the mother of two children. My daughter, the “Little Diva” is twelve and my son, “The Teen” is sixteen. What many of you do not know, is that I am also the mother of a “Little Angel” who left this world before she ever lived. Her name was Emma Turner Porte and on April thirteenth, I will celebrate her fourteenth birthday.
I recall with sadness, the day fourteen years when I noticed something was just not right. I was in my twenty-fifth week of pregnancy and had been feeling simply fabulous and excited about welcoming my second child. On this day however, I noticed that the blissful movement and stir of life within me had stopped. No kicking, no squirming from my baby. Just silence. I intuitively knew before I was told that something was very, very wrong.
Testing was ordered and I was sent to the hospital, as I was reassured that all was probably well. I recall my intuition telling me that was not so, yet hoping and praying it was. During the sonogram, the monitor was turned away from me and as the probe was rolled over my baby within, the technician’s face confirmed by biggest fear. Then doctor spoke the words that I thought I would never hear. “Dabney, I am so sorry. Your baby has died.”
I was not prepared. My body shook and trembled and I cried from the depth of my soul. I had never experienced such emotional and physical pain. It was as if the sounds of my sobs were coming from someone else. I clung to my swollen belly and cried for hours. In that moment, I learned what true loss felt like.
As I exhausted myself from crying, I looked within my soul for energy to go on. I knew I needed to take this journey of grief in a manner that would allow me to experience the pain fully so that I would find success in letting go and moving on. Even fourteen years ago, I knew I did not want to be a victim of adversity.
I delivered my sweet Emma two days later. We held her lifeless body in heated towels as I sang to her, kissed her and told her how sorry I was that she would not be joining us here. I still recall how beautiful she was. She was physically perfect and looked much like my twelve year old daughter looked on the day of her birth. When they took her from my arms, a piece of my soul went with her and I physically felt pain in my heart. The word Heartache now truly had meaning to me.
My journey beyond that day was more difficult than any journey I have taken since. There was the funeral, the maternity leave without a baby, the empty nursery, the wave of pain and the challenge of moving ahead looming in front of me.
Each spring, as the tulips and daffodils start to bloom and signs of new life surround us, I am carried back to memories of Emma. I think of how old she would be, what her passions would have been and what her laugh would have sounded like. I can clearly picture her when I close my eyes as I connect with her spirit that has quietly and privately surrounded me each day over the years.
For years, I have celebrated Emma’s unlived life privately, as many do not understand what if is like experience a death of a child in the manner in which I did. It is as though because her life was not lived outside of my womb, it was not lived at all.
Today I am choosing to celebrate out loud the gift that was given to me for those brief twenty five weeks. For you see, it is today that I realize that the pain of my past has lead me to exactly the place I belong. As my first experience facing true adversity, I challenged myself to walk through it and in doing so; I was led to this present moment.
During the funeral, words were spoken to offer peace. Many told me there was a reason for my loss, that God had his purpose. I was told in the end, we would all see the lesson Emma taught us. The words whispered to me on the day I lay my daughter to rest with my Grandmother, are the ones I recall most.
Only a daughter of yours would be sweet enough to never live, so that she could teach lessons to us all
Today, I now know the lessons I learned are ones I share through my work today. Adversity can in fact define us. It is up to us to choose how. In revisiting this lost chapter of my life that I seldom turn to, I smile. It is with a mother’s love that I realize it is my own child Emma, who taught me how to be a Diva. Through losing her, I realized the importance of getting better and not bitter when faced with a life changing moment of adversity, loss and pain. In the end, I became stronger and embraced my power. Fourteen years ago I started to walk in my magnificence.
I celebrate Emma for her gifts and thank her for teaching me a lesson long ago. It is my daughter who taught me the many lessons I would need to be prepared for future adversity. I believe it is Emma that sprinkles Diva Dust on me when I need it, giving me my sparkle. Today, I celebrate my most precious angel for giving me my Diva Wings and helping me soar.
xoxo Happy Birthday my Sweet Emma xoxo