Every so often these notes get passed around Catholic circles about the benefits of "fasting from the internet." If those notes hit me outside of Advent or Lent, I start to feel guilty. I'm a woman who spends a lot of time on my computer. I like to write. I like to read. Then there are all these other tasks that I do online from paying bills to using the yellow pages.
I never feel guilty when my kid interrupts me while I'm reading a detective novel. Yet somehow when a kid interrupts me while I'm reading a blog, I feel like I'm "wasting time." I should be spending my time in more holy pursuits like boiling carrots or ironing our church clothes. Life events have made me start to feel less guilty about that.
This past month has brought me two of the scariest moments in my life.
For 20 minutes on Oct 11, we thought my baby had died. I had a complication after my water broke while I was at home at 8 AM. I was at 36 weeks and had just gotten released from the High Risk Perinatal Unit less than 48 hours before. I lifted our Carmelite rosary of the mirror of my husband's car and we started praying together as he rushed me back to the hospital.
In the middle of praying, which wasn't even a prayer for the baby's life because I so thought he was gone--I prayed more to have something to do with my hands and my mind during that awful wait to get myself to a fetal monitor--I realized that his potential stillbirth was going to be a lot harder than my two previous late miscarriages. When I had lost both of my earlier sons, it was hard. One baby had to be born in a hospital after his death. There was still this knowledge that they died too soon for any medical help. There was nothing my husband or I could do to save those beloved boys.
This child was different.
48 hours ago, I was in a hospital. I could feel the baby move. I had a sonogram where he bounced around and 24 hours of continuous fetal heartbeat monitoring. My doctors chose not to deliver me at 36 weeks, but instead to wait until 37.
Now after my water broke and I had another complication, that decision seemed like a bad call.
The fear that I felt in that moment of praying the rosary was "Am I going to be okay with the feelings of guilt and regret that we didn't have my c-section at 36 weeks?"
I didn't know if I could live with that regret. That seemed like an overwhelming way to lose a baby we'd loved for 36 weeks.
In that moment, I remembered 2 mothers who suffered stillbirths and blogged out it. These are not women who I talk to regularly on the phone or email. But their names, their blog posts and the headers on their websites floated into my mind. It was like they were in the car with my giving me a hug.
I realized if they could do it, I could do it too. I didn't know how I could handle a stillbirth--but I knew it was possible to handle heartache with grace because those women wrote about their lives.
Then I remembered another blogger, who wrote about her son's amazing miracle after a stillbirth, Miss Bonnie. I hadn't asked God to save the baby, because both my husband and I had pretty much decided that he was already gone. The memory of Bonnie's blog, A Knotted Life, reminded me that our church is one of Hope. I said a pale, non emphatic Hail Mary to Blessed Fulton Sheen, asking for him to save my baby.
A few minutes after that prayer, I got into an ambulance. I felt the baby kick for the first time since this drama began. The feeling of relief and hope I experienced was overwhelming.
I thought this idea of being comforted on the internet was limited to a one time, dramatic birth thing. Yet its not. A few weeks later, I was on an email exchange with Dwija from House Unseen. I felt so confused and lost about this home sale thing. She gave me comfort in that moment. Now three days later, the situation looks so much more hopeful and optimistic.
Long story short, if you are a blogger--write. Write about the real stuff. Don't be ashamed or afraid. We have no idea how much our individual stories of heartbreak and triumph matter to others.
I think that sometimes the internet gives us a little foreshadowing of the communion of saints. We're all here to help each other, even while we are separated by geography and time.