Three bags of peaches from our local crop share sat in our kitchen. I knew there was no way my husband and I could eat them all before they spoiled.
And so, peach cobbler came to life. It used up most of the peaches and saved us a few to eat fresh as well.
The peach cobbler recipe that I found, was basically peaches in cookie dough, minus the chocolate chips. It was fabulous.
I made a huge pan. Turns out it was a great comfort food.
I was in what I remember as the hardest part of my grief. The acceptance part.
The phases of my grief were very distinct to me, now looking back.
It started with the realization that this could actually be happening to us. Our seemingly healthy baby that moved all around in my belly could actually have something wrong with her.
Everyone around me told me she was going to be okay. But I had dream after dream saying she wasn’t. And the minute I heard my doctor on the other end of the phone, I knew.
He didn’t even have to speak the words.
The waiting was hard. It was really hard to just not know what her diagnosis was. But what I didn’t realize, is that once we knew, it would get even harder.
The hardest part of my grief, was the phase after. The acceptance phase.
I had to accept that our daughter had trisomy 13.
I had to accept that she was going to die. And I had to make a decision with my husband as to how we wanted to proceed.
We had choices to make as parents. The hardest choice we’d ever make, and hopefully ever will.
We were given the choice of when our daughter would die. Not if, but when.
This phase was the time that I grieved the most.
In order to make this unfathomable decision, I had to really accept her diagnosis, and accept my role as her parent.
I remember feeling like the world was moving so fast. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t keep up with normal pace.
Every second of every day, I was consumed with my thoughts. My sadness. Our “choice“.
My husband was very much in this with me and holding my hand through it all. But I think at the end of the day, everyone goes through grief somewhat on their own and on their own terms.
We talked. We listened. We tried to function in our daily lives. We held each other up.
I took care of our older daughter, and my husband went to work. We dealt with the things we needed to. But the reality is that we were very preoccupied with our thoughts and our grief.
When I look back, there are things that stick out. Moments that will forever bring tears, and moments that will forever teach me lessons over and over again.
You see, you learn a lot when you are faced with a journey like this.
You learn a lot when you are faced with the unthinkable.
In my acceptance period, I learned to let go of the little things. I fed my 2 year old peach cobbler for breakfast- with ice cream.
Because, why not?
What did it really matter?
It’s what sounded good to me, and it was the breakfast that required the least amount of energy from my body to put on the table (the ice cream was just a bonus), and my 2 year old was going to love it.
And she did.
I will remember that day forever. I let go of worrying about the little things like what I fed my toddler for breakfast, because in that moment it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter if she ate oatmeal, eggs, or ice cream.
She was living. She was happy. And she was healthy.
I think I did a good portion of my grieving during this time. The time from diagnosis to decision.
I was terrified to give birth to our daughter, only to have to let her go. But, once we’d made our decision on when that would happen, and how that would happen, I felt much more peace.
I felt at peace with our decision, even though I was terrified as the seconds and minutes took us closer to the date we’d say hello and goodbye.
But I could breathe a bit more. I felt like I could have some control and some say in how things happened and how we said goodbye.
I felt like we could honor her and I put all of my energy into doing so.
I put my energy into planning her birth and death. I put my energy into sharing her story with the world. And so I moved through my grief even just the slightest amount- enough to be able to breathe.
And then she was born. And the calmness stayed with me. The strength stayed with me. Her energy consumed me. And I was happy to meet our little girl.
I was happy to hold her and take her in. I was happy to kiss her and hug her. I was happy to read her her first and last story. I was so happy to just be with her.
And then she left. The tears hadn’t found me yet.
It wasn’t until I moved. I got up. And then I had to return to the very bed she’d died in. I had to return without my child in my arms. Then the grief consumed me again.
And it got worse and worse until I couldn’t breathe again. I walked out of the hospital the next day with no baby in my arms. Just my husband holding strong with me and literally holding me up. I walked and felt lifeless.
And the world was yet again spinning so fast and I couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t keep up and I couldn’t breathe.
I’d come up for air, I’d look at her pictures, and hold the bear with her heartbeat. I’d wrap myself in her blanket.
And at dinner time I would fall apart again. She wasn’t there. She was supposed to be there- at our table with our family.
Coming up for air lasts longer now. My inability to breathe is manageable when it hits. The grief is all so hard- all of the stages.
But for me the hardest part wasn’t when we lost April, but when we found out we’d lose her.
Finding out her death sentence was brutal. Letting her go peacefully was something we could do for her.
I was reminded of the moment I just gave in to grief.
I didn’t care about anything in the world other than family and my grief in that very moment- and that was okay.
In those moments, my husband and our beautifully strong daughters took care of me- we all took care of each other. We ate peach cobbler, we laughed, we cried, and we put one step in front of the other.