The baby that was supposed to be…

When I saw her looking away, I knew she was trying to ignore me. Why would she want to do that? I wondered. Still, I went to her with a bright smile on my face. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw her rounded belly. “Oh My God! Congratulations! How far along are you? I didn’t know you were pregnant!” I didn’t have time to finish my sentence; she broke into tears!

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I hadn’t seen Viviane in two years when I bumped into her. I had made a stop on my way home to the grocery store and there she was; picking up some fruits. Vivi was the kind of person you wanted to be around with. Our kids attended the same school for a year. They didn’t become best friends but we, parents, got along pretty well. It was always smiles and laughs whenever we met. So it was a real pleasure and a good surprise for me to see her. Knowing her, I knew it was not like her to pretend she hadn’t seen me. Worse yet, she seemed uncomfortable as I approached her. Most of the time, if I realize an acquaintance of mine is trying to ignore me, I usually look the other way too. I know there are days when even I would rather be left alone rather than talk to the most charming person in the world. When such a thing happens, I usually never take it personally and just mind my own business. But that day, even though I could tell that my good friend wasn’t that pleased to see me, I still walked up to her. For some reason, I didn’t feel like walking away was the right thing to do. Had I paid attention, I would have noticed the sadness that was written all over her face. That posture was beyond the mere fatigue that all pregnant women have to go through. She seemed preoccupied. But with a husband and three kids, who wouldn’t be from time to time? That’s when she told me the grueling truth. She was already in her last trimester. The baby (a boy) had a lot of birth defects and his survival chances were close to zero. In spite of all the advances in the filed of medicine, her baby’s condition was not curable. Her baby was going to die right after birth. It is called Neonatal death. Sometimes parents will be celebrating a pregnancy just to be told that the baby might not survive outside the womb. And the women to whom it happens have no other choice than to carry their pregnancy to term. I was chocked and in disbelief. Those were feelings she probably had to go through at some point. As a mom, I couldn’t imagine what it felt to be in her position. So there she was: buying organic food, trying to give her baby the best she could, hoping to make a difference in his diagnosis. She was desperate and lost and was trying everything she could think of to make things right. Tears were flowing down her cheeks. It didn’t matter that she already had three healthy kids, right then she was fighting for the one who mattered the most, the one who had very few, if not no chance to make it at all.

The moment was just heartbreaking. All the joy and excitement at the idea of a baby to be born were replaced by sorrow and concern. For a split second, I was torn between sobbing with her and telling her that there was still hope. I opted for hope. I told her that there was still a chance for it to make it, that even the best doctors could sometimes be wrong. Sometimes miracles happen and hopefully her baby was going to be one of them. I tried to remain as positive as possible, trying to remember how doctors told me that I couldn’t conceive naturally then I went to have my baby girls. How they also told me how the second one had chances to have down syndrome, then kidney problems, just for her to be born perfectly healthy. But I also knew some couples who got bad news about their unborn children and they happened to be true. I couldn’t help but think of how unfair the whole situation was. No woman should have to go through that. He was either going to be still born or live just a few hours and that would be it. I had to refrain myself from crying. My friend was already in enough pain; she didn’t need my tears. Since there wasn’t much I could do, I promised to put her and her baby in my prayers. She needed a miracle!

I waited until I was in my car to cry. Why? A question she probably asked God or the universe or fate before me! Why? How could God put her through that? No woman should have to endure that! I called my mom, who excelled in praying for others and asked her if she could convince her peers to pray for my friend. Nothing can ever prepare anyone for the death of a child. How do you cope when it happens to your baby and in a very short period of time? For the next month, I checked on her every few days. When her delivery day came and went with no news from her, I knew. Usually people spread the good news and keep the bad ones for themselves. I waited a few more weeks before I got back in touch. I wanted to give her some space, give her and her family the time to mourn. She was happy to hear from me. She told me how she got to hold her little angel until he took his last breath. He lived for six hours and then he was gone. Her tone was bittersweet. She got to name him, to see his face, to hold him in her arms, to be with him for the few hours he spent on earth. She got to create memories she will cherish for years to come. He will forever be her baby that was supposed to be but who didn’t make it. And she seemed fine with it. Why did it have to happen that way:  that she will never know. Even the doctors couldn’t give her answers. The pain would probably never fade away but at least she was at peace.

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