Today I designed a print for a mom on the other side of the world. It was for her baby girl who would have turned one today.
One year ago, at the same time on the other side of the world, I also gave birth to my own baby girl. I remember the day very well.
One year on, and this mom and I are still worlds apart.
You see, after going through the most excruciating pain in order for her to enter this world, I got to hold my baby in my arms and watch her take her first breath.
The mom on the other side of the world did not have that same opportunity. Her baby was never able to take her first breath. Her baby was born still sleeping. Stillborn.
I whimpered in pain as I got up in the night, woken abruptly by newborn cries. I tried to erase from my memory the stitches I had just received. I got to ease the ache of incoming milk with a baby eager to nurse.
I got to hobble down the hospital corridor, knowing the pain I was in was only temporary and that my baby was waiting for me back in my room.
I got to lie in bed and receive a stream of visitors who were full of happiness for the sweet gift of life that had just been thrust into our world.
Meanwhile, something quite different was going on in the other mom’s world.
Her body also whimpered in excruciating pain. Her body also writhed with the discomfort caused by birthing a child and her chest throbbed as her milk came in. She also hobbled down the hospital corridors and woke up in the night abruptly.
Yet her pain was not met with the cries of new life. She wasn’t to receive smiling visitors or experience the euphoria of going through labor in order to receive a wonderful gift.
I don’t know how the events in her hospital transpired that day, but I do know that the way we are feeling today, one year on, is still world’s apart.
While my body may always show some evidence of growing and giving birth to a child, her body will carry many scars on the inside as well. Scars that will run deep. They will be hidden scars that may fade over time, but will forever be embedded into her very core.
As I watch my baby grow into a beautiful young girl, she will ache with the unbearable anguish of never seeing her child reach her potential.
Tears trickled down my face as I sent the print to its forever home. I longed to speak words that would offer a beacon of hope but instead all of my words felt redundant and empty. I wanted to bear hug this mom on the other side of the world, even though we had never met.
Instead, I kept my words inside because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I felt like I had no right to care so much, to offer my empty words when I had no idea of the pain a mom must endure when her baby bypasses earth and goes straight to heaven.
Yet still the words inside me ached to come out. And I realized that maybe my voice can matter. That if I don’t use my words, no-one else will speak them for me. I realized I can encourage others like me, women whose hearts have never had to grieve for their own children, to step out of their apathy to care and love on those who need comfort in their darkest hours.
Let us be women who are strong when another is feeling broken. Women whose shoulders are always available. Not there to fix a problem but to hold a hand. To give a hug. To say a kind word. To grieve alongside.
Let us be women who do this, not because we are strong but because the love of God in us can’t help but overflow to others. Because we know that being a mom means having your heart painfully stretched until it is enlarged to make room for others.
Let us be women who inspire others to rise up and be women of hope and love and compassion. To look out for our neighbor, even if we can’t relate to her. Even if it’s awkward and we don’t have the right words. To put aside our own comfort for the sake of lifting someone else up.
So while I celebrate my little girl’s birthday, my heart will also ache for the mom on the other side of the world. I will pray for her and honor her baby girl, all the while holding my own just that little bit tighter.
Happy Birthday to your sweet baby girl, mom on the other side of the world.