Mothers Speak: Baby Maggie

I received some news today. The kind of news that feels like someone socked you in the gut without warning. The kind of news that leaves you blubbering to yourself in public and you don’t care who’s watching. The kind of news that makes you want to shake your fist at Heaven and demand to know, “Why?”

Some friends of mine are celebrating the birth of their 2nd child and mourning her loss at the same time… a conflict of emotions so profoundly rare, only few, if any, can appropriately describe. Baby Maggie Hoffman was diagnosed with a congenital neural tube defect that if carried to term, would not allow her to live beyond a few precious moments. No sooner than Maggie entered the world on Wednesday, September 7th, Mom and Dad began memorizing her tiny features before they had to say “goodbye”. You can read the whole story on Moments With Maggie’s blog. As heartbreaking a read as this is, I find myself grateful that the Hoffman’s have allowed you and I into such a unique realm of perspective over losing a child. I can’t wrap my head around the shape their grief will inevitably take in the coming days, but if I had to identify my own predominant emotion currently, surprisingly, it would be shame.

Shame that I haven’t stayed in better touch. Shame that my friends have been living with this news for weeks and I only just found out. Shame that just this morning I confessed to a girlfriend over coffee that I was so happy I wasn’t pregnant right now. Shame that I lost patience with Salem yesterday while he was pulling photos out of the basket on top of our coffee table getting his chubby little fingerprints all over the glossy pictures. Shame that in the middle of this tragedy, I find myself reflecting on my own reaction because I can’t bear fantasizing about what they must be feeling right now. And yet… it is what it is.

I didn’t meet this baby girl. And yet because of her presence, as short-lived as it was, I’ve never wanted to cut my mother’s morning out short and race every red light home to kiss my kid’s chicken nugget-crummed faces so badly before. I’ve never cared less about baby weight, mid-night diaper runs, or a my favorite sweater sacrificed to milky spit-up. I never considered lumping Pro-Choice activists in with shoe-bombing terrorists until now, and as far as those considered blessed among women…. I’d say Michelle Duggar has me beat multiple times over. Dear God, WHY does it take tragedy like this to remind me that life is precious? That life is always reason enough to celebrate? That my pea-sized vantage of what really matters from one day to the next is utterly despicable in light of such staggering loss? That I am a rich woman because of the life that surrounds me. Life…. loaded with clutter, noise, junk mail, white flour, late fees, typos, expired coupons, and misunderstandings….. IS STILL LIFE!!!!!!!

Please remind me next time I forget…….  its all worth celebrating.

Thank you Baby Maggie for reminding me of that today.


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