". . .you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." Quoted from Christopher Robin, character created by A.A. Milne.
I have lived this quote, twice.
I have found bravery I did not believe was possible when I entered the operating room for my fifth c-section to meet my second son who would not live beyond the four walls of that room. I found bravery every single time I had to explain to strangers, friends or family that the babies I carried would not live, especially when I spoke those words to my own children while pregnant with Eli. Bravery carried me through each and every phone call with the genetic counselor, the Potter's Syndrome study researcher and the pathology department. Bravery moved my feet into the funeral homes to plan my unborn sons' funerals and to make all of the other arrangements which I did without abandoning hope.
I have found strength, emotionally and physically, by attending my sons' funerals just five days after each c-section mostly unmedicated because there is no medicine which can heal a broken heart. I have lost that strength standing at the graves of my two tiny sons who rest between where myself and my husband will someday. Yet strength found me again and held me up when my will all but crumbled. In the days that have followed strength has grown. Strength has transformed my inner physique as much as my own determination has transformed my outer physique. Strength has followed bravery.
I have found wisdom beyond my years. Within my own mind I've discovered the ability to process unspeakable sorrow and then the ability to own that grief. Wisdom which is more than anything I have ever read or heard. Waiting for my sons to die, then giving birth to them and holding them to their dying breaths within hours has made me think about things I otherwise never would have. My wisdom cannot be described in Scripture, captured with a platitude or swiftly encapsulated by medical science. I have more questions than answers. But those answers would not satisfy me, answers cannot fill my arms or nuzzle my cheeks. I now seek only what I need to know for my family's health and I've let the rest go. I have bravely walked and continue to walk a difficult path which requires inhumane strength at times and on that path I have found my own answers. Wisdom came behind bravery and strength.
My life is a combination of bravery, strength and wisdom and I am thankful.