I don't know how someone could go through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth and not be changed. And though I was able to parent him for a just a little while, mothering Ewan changed me tremendously. He's in a place where he no longer needs me, but that does not mean those places he awoke in me are gone. I imagine I will be noticing how he changed me in a thousand different ways both small and large for the coming months and years.
Ewan taught me to love with my whole heart. Given what we were facing with Ewan, it might have been tempting to hold something of my heart back so it wouldn't hurt as much if we lost him. But it just wasn't an option when it came to my son. I could not hesitate and I could not hold back. Everything in me was compelled toward him: to fight for him, to love him fiercely and unreservedly, and to give him back when it became clear his body couldn't fight any longer. It didn't matter how much it hurt.
I want to learn to love other people that way.
As a result of loving Ewan, I care a lot less about what people think. I have had that "disease to please" to a greater or lesser degree my whole life. While I don't know that I can pronounce myself cured, I'm as close as I've ever been. Loving him gave me a lot of clarity about what really matters, and managing to people's opinions of me really is not high up on that list anymore. I share more openly about what I think and feel without worrying about any number of ways it might be received or interpreted. It's gotten a lot easier to disregard and forget those comments that are misguided or merely meant to be hurtful.
This is an ability I want to retain.
He taught me to see other people's pain. When we were at the hospital with him, it was startling to see just how many families have to fight for their children's health. Though the specifics of each case were widely varied and unique, it taught me to see just how common a thing it is for a child to require medical intervention. Instead of assuming now that everyone else gets "normal and healthy," I recognize that many families have gone through what we're going through. Instead of assuming everyone else's life has been easier, I wonder what kinds of sorrow they might have experienced.
I don't want to lose this.
He taught me that what I think I want is sometimes not really what I want (or need, for that matter). Before we found out that we were having a boy (Ewan!), people often asked us if we had a preference in terms of the sex of our child. If asked, we answered that we wanted a girl but would be happy with whoever God gave to us. Our first ultrasound left us in no doubt that we were having a boy, and one with a very broken heart at that -- there was no deferring to the common "as long as the baby is healthy" disclaimer. And you know what? I would not have traded Ewan for a hundred healthy little girls. He is exactly the baby I wanted.
I always want to remember that not getting what I want can be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Loving him taught me something important about the heart of God. I've always had a hard time really understanding God as Father. Loving Ewan gave me an understanding about God that I had never had before. I understood that fierce longing for profoundly deep relationship. From the earliest moments of my pregnancy, I wanted to know Ewan. I possessed a closeness with him as his mother that no one else could have. After he was born, that longing didn't change even though we were no longer in one body. Nothing could have prevented me from seeking that with him -- no amount of machines or tubes or medications were going to hinder me from seeking relationship him. And it didn't matter how sick he was -- he didn't have to be perfect or healthy or whole for me to love him. He was my child, and that was enough.
Secondly, I learned the depth of pain and loss that results when that relationship is severed, when separation occurs. In those times when the sorrow is so great that I am sure that the walls of my heart will simply collapse in on themselves, I think of how it must wound the heart of God to be separated from His children. In those moments, I recognize that I am not alone in my sorrow, and I recognize how God's heart grieves for those who reject Him and His offer of love.
And what I've experienced is only a drop in the bucket.
May I never forget the depth and breadth of that "reckless, raging fury they call the love of God", and to extend it to others.
I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of the ways in which Ewan has changed me forever, and (I always hope) for the better.