Whenever I was still pregnant with Natalie, Mike and I bought her a little white dresser to store all her little baby clothes and extra baby blankets and all the teeny tiny socks...
It was one of the first things we bought for her nursery and that alone was exciting to a new mother.
I remember the peace I felt folding her many freshly washed newborn onesies and placing them each neatly in the drawers. I remember the hopeful daydreaming about all the things she could do and become. Id fold her blankets and long for the weeks ahead when I could wrap her tiny perfect self in them and hold her close.
Maybe she will love to dance like me. Or perhaps love science like her father. Maybe she will play sports or become a writer or doctor or counselor.
All the potential she had in my dreams...
As she got older, hanging clothes was easier and one less thing to worry about so the dresser remained empty minus some of those old baby blankets.
There was a time a few years ago we gave away that dresser. A friend needed it and we did not so for a while it belonged to someone else. When they no longer needed it became ours again but Natalie didn't really have many clothes.... but we needed it.
I cried putting the medical supplies away. I cried like I did the first time we were told Natalie was different. I cried from a deep pain that I hadn't felt in so many years...
This dresser is for baby clothes that were bought for a child I never had. Natalie is nothing like the child I dreamt up. Its unlikely she will ever be a doctor or scientist and it pained me to remember how hopeful I was.
It hurt to see gauze and syringes where her "future ballerina" onesie use to be.
It hurt to be reminded that our lives are different and that it wasn't the plan.
But more than anything I felt pity and embarrassment for the person that I use to be.
Yes, grief is part of the process and I will admit openly I had some very dark days. I wasn't always the determined and positive mother Natalie needed and deserved me to be. Many days I put her down for a nap and spent the entire time during it crying, feeling sorry for both her and myself. This wasn't what any of us asked for and I was not looking forward to watching her struggle through life.
But time went by and I cried less and less. I began to appreciate things that many mothers don't notice about their children like extended eye contact and intentional gestures with individual body parts. I
started to realize that Natalie wasn't struggling through life, but dancing through it.
When I was finished unpacking the supplies, and finished with my crying, I put Natalie on my lap and told her I loved her and I know she understood me. she leaned into my arms for a hug and we just sat there while I appreciated everything about that moment. And it was truly lovely.
A while ago I took all the medical supplies out and was able to begin putting Natalie's freshly washed clothes into the drawers. She has been in remission for 175 days and we are enjoying every single second of it. I'm so thankful for her life exactly how it is. Remission, Angelman Syndrome, Craniosynostosis.... She been given a second chance, thanks to St Jude, and as I folded her not so tiny clothes I allowed myself for the first time since she was diagnosed to daydream about all the things she could become.