One year ago today, we found out we were expecting.  That was the first time Benjamin changed my life.

This anniversary is also the beginning of all of the other anniversaries.  Important dates, good and bad (and, on one occasion, both):
1/11 – Expecting
2/2 – Saw his heart beating for the first time
4/16 – Found out he was a boy
6/20 – Cervical funneling, fear that he was going to be born too early
8/12 – CDH diagnosis
9/6 – The results that changed everything
9/15 – Benjamin’s birth day

 I don’t know if all of these dates will always stand out.  And, at least for today’s anniversary, it doesn’t really hurt.  It even makes me smile.  It’s an important memory that I can’t ignore.

When 2011 was winding down, I couldn’t help but go over the year in my mind.  So many good things happened, but so much was lost.  At the last therapy session, I listed those losses, and the psychologist said she couldn’t argue those points with me.  However, Dr. B said, the one thing I didn’t mention was myself.  I didn’t lose myself in 2011.

For that week and a half between the amnio results and Benjamin’s birth, I did.  But I came back.

And I’ve gained so much.  I’ve gained strength, courage, compassion, and found respect for my body and life in general.  I lost Benjamin and became a mother.

I didn’t know I was this strong.  I didn’t know that after all of this, I could keep going.  I didn’t know that I could look at another positive pregnancy test and still feel hope.

I’ve also learned that when horrible things happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop them from happening, it’s up to you to handle it in a way that is productive and good.  If you can find a lesson, if you can find strength you didn’t know was there, if you can provide comfort to someone who has found themselves lost on a pathway you know too well…then all is not lost.  It can’t be.  It doesn’t make it all right, but it makes it better.  You have the power to make it better.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body. I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed.
I have succeeded.
I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.

– Author Unknown

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Attempt #2 (or 3, depending on how you look at it) of the CVS is tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.