A newborn baby holds his mother's hand at the intensive care unit, on March 18, 2012, in Bucharest, Romania. .(AP Photo)
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"You are strong. So, so strong. Even when you don't feel like you are very strong at all."
I understand. That's all I want to say today, really.
And I wanted you to know that you are not invisible.
I know it is the kind of hard that no one else can fathom.
I know you felt a knife rip through your heart and a wave of relief flood your soul the moment that a doctor or a therapist confirmed what you had already known for a while, but maybe hadn't been quite ready to admit.
I know that the novel that sits by your bed at night is not really a novel at all, but a stack of paperwork to be read and signed and returned.
I know that the first time you walked into that therapist's office you felt like you must have failed somewhere along the way. But I know you didn't. Because there you are, sitting in the office waiting room, doing everything you can do get support for that very same child that you think you are failing.
I know that it is so hard not to harbor resentment in your heart.
I know that you might have had to give up a promising career because there are so many daytime appointments now where a guardian needs to be present. I know that it is putting a strain on your relationship with your spouse. I know that sometimes you have to count the minutes until the end of the play date because it is difficult to be around other mothers while they talk about issues that seem so mundane in comparison to the cards you have been dealt.
I know that your weight is probably different now than it was before you got the news. It might be because you have been going to so many appointments every week that dinner comes from a drive-thru more often than it does not. It might be because you are eating your feelings, or it might be because you have been so sick with grief over what could have been that your appetite has disappeared completely.
I know that you might need a little bit of time to grieve. And I know that if that little bit of time starts to turn into a lot of time, then you shouldn't be ashamed to talk to someone about it.
I know that talking to someone, even your husband, might feel pointless sometimes because no one really sees your child like you do. They aren't there all day every day and they don't see all of the everything.
I know that sometimes when you get a break for just a minute and everything seems infinitely easier, it is hard to put up the mental roadblocks against what could have been.
I know that it is almost impossible to stay away from "if only," but I know that you have to if you want to survive.
You can't think about the way that things could have been different. You can only deal with the way that they are.
You are strong. So, so strong. Even when you don't feel like you are very strong at all.
The years will pass. At first it will go so slowly and it will be so hard that you think you might never make it out alive. You might feel like punching me right now because I just said "years" and you're not even sure that you will be able to hold yourself together until dinner tonight.
If you can't make it until dinner, then it is all right to cry right now. No, you're right. It won't change anything, but I give you permission to feel your feelings anyway. And I promise those feelings will not always be sad ones.
The job itself will not get easier, but you will get even stronger and smarter and your tool belt will grow.
There will come a day when you feel confident and equipped.
Then something will happen that brings you to your knees and the cycle will start again.
But it will be okay, because then you will know that blossoms can grow in even the stormiest weather.
By then you will have seen such tremendous growth and progress that the blows will be a little bit easier to take, if only because you know that there is hope.
This piece originally appeared on Binkies and Briefcases. To see more of Stephanie's work, visit her blog.
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