It wasn't long after, maybe a month, that I picked up a book.  I was still swimming in the mire, crying uncontrollably, dehydrated, Dance Macabre filling my nightmares, heavy empty arms and leaky breasts consuming my days, all the while thinking:  I am at the bottom.  I am in the trash compactor of hell.  This is as bad as it gets.

And I began reading other stories of moms like me.

And found myself, surprisingly -- not often, but occasionally -- thinking:  wow, how horrible, I can't imagine, I'm so glad that didn't happen to me.

It's odd to be scraping the barrel and finding yourself giving thanks, but there I was reading about mothers who were denied the right to see or hold their children.  Women who were hustled along by the nurses who neglected to give those mothers what was rightfully theirs:  footprints, handprints, locks of hair.  Worse (to me), women drugged by doctors thinking they would appreciate sleeping through the process.  

If some maternal being, even a fellow babyloss mama, came to me, embraced me against her (lavender scented) bosom, clasped my hands in hers and pressed them to her heart, and earnestly implored me while looking tearfully into my eyes:

"Tell me what you're thankful for!"

I would probably scream, "Not a fucking thing," while cramming both our fists down her throat.  There is nothing here to be thankful for, not my child's sorry little life, and the unbearable year and half since.  Not the loss of my daughter's sibling, not watching my husband grieve.  Nothing.

Bite me.

And yet, late at night, while reading through your blogs and comments and words, I often catch my breath, mutter "Oh Shit," and think

It could have been so much worse.

I am thankful I married my husband -- I honestly can't imagine going through this with anyone less than or other than him.

I am thankful Maddy was born where she was, in this town where we had recently moved, and died in Children's -- which was recently rated one of the top Children's hospitals in the country.  They did not give me any answers, but they did not leave me with any doubt to her care, and their complete expenditure of resources and attention in trying to figure out what happened.  Her medical care was unparalleled.  Had Maddy been born in my local hospital, or in the hospital in my former state, we would be left with shrugged shoulders, and undoubtedly, "there's no way of knowing, nothing we can do."

I am thankful for Maddy's nurses.  They deserve capes and fancy wrist bands and theme music -- superheroes, all.

I am thankful my labor was quick, my recovery effortless.  I was on my feet immediately for a week of walking, crouching, sobbing, all away from home, my water bath and fancy salts and hemorrhoid cream.  And physically I was fine.

I am thankful I have pictures, even if they're not good quality.  The one with her clenched fist -- which is a sign of seizure, although I choose to forget that when I look at it -- is my favorite.  I choose to believe she's fighting.

I am thankful she died at Children's, where there was a bereavement department.  Someone spoke to us the day she died, and they kept calling.  They sent a specialist to talk to us about Bella, and had a lactation staff who dealt with ending it -- on a Sunday.  They sent us things we didn't know they had kept.  They still call.  They organize a yearly candlelight service.  She is not forgotten to them, and it makes it so much easier to drive by the hospital -- which I do on a weekly basis.

I am thankful for a small, but strong handful of friends who wrote me, emailed me, called and left messages for me -- when I didn't correspond back.  They didn't care, they didn't ask why, they just kept calling, writing, emailing.  They kept me from drowning.

I'm thankful Maddy's nervous system was determined to be mush.  She most likely felt nothing during her week here.  That relieves me more than you can imagine.

Most of all, I'm thankful I got to set the terms of Maddy's death, and that given what transpired that dreadful week, this one moment, at least, was in our control.  Of course I didn't really control it all, who am I kidding -- when a doctor says "she's being kept alive," basically the universe spirals out of control right from under your seat.  Sometimes I wonder if I could've done things differently, but ultimately she died in our arms.  Given all that happened that week, I don't want to contemplate her end happening in any other way.

Maddy dying is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  And yet, I realize, it could've been so, so much worse.  And I'm oh so thankful that it wasn't.

In retrospect, comparatively speaking (or perhaps not at all), are you at all, remotely, even a teeny bit thankful for anything that happened surrounding the death of your baby/-ies?  And believe me, it's fine if you say "No.  Not a fucking thing.  Are you crazy?"