Day 16 – What to Plan For?

I just received a package in the mail from a bereavement counselor I spoke to a couple of weeks ago.  There are several brochures on grieving the loss of an infant, memorial ideas, and how to help other children through the loss of their sibling.  I’m sitting here in my car in the parking lot of Greta’s dance class skimming through these brochures and had to put them away. That anyone should lose an infant, let alone myself, is just unbearably sad.

While I feel this tiny little person kicking around inside of me, it somehow seems wrong to be grieving his or her death.  I don’t know that I’m ready to do that, but yet I want to be prepared and have funeral plans, etc. put into place should the need arise.  I really don’t know what to do with all of this. I wonder, am I just avoiding this whole mess or am I staying so focused on God and the present?  By making preparations for this baby’s death, does that somehow discount my faith in a miracle?

Day 13 – A Heavenly Adoption

I’ve been thinking lots about the indeterminate loss of this baby versus the sacrifice that was made in parting with my first born.  There is definitely a congruity that can be drawn between the two scenarios.

As in making an adoption plan, I have prepared myself for our possible worst case scenario of going home without a baby.  I guess the big difference is that I don’t feel like I really have a choice this time.  In an adoption, I at least knew in the back of my mind that I could reverse my decision at any time before I signed the papers.  Not that I WOULD HAVE, but that just seemed to give me a sense of control over everything.

The beautiful similarity is this:  If I were considering adoption right now, and I were going through the piles of adoptive family profiles that are typically given to a prospective birth mother, and I came across God’s profile, how could I possibly pass it by?  Maybe it would say something like this:

Dear Birthmother,

I’m so sorry for the burden that has been placed on your heart right now.  I know that pain intimately and you are not alone in it.  I would love to take the pain away from you right now, but I promise you there are beautiful things to come as a result of this pain you are enduring. I will walk with you through it and I will hold you up when you can’t walk on your own.  

For reasons unknown to you right now, this tiny baby is not able to be a part of your family as you know it and as you had expected.  I know that wounds you deeply, but I also know that you want the absolute best for your little one.  You can rest easy in knowing that I can provide that in more ways than you could ever possibly fathom.

Life for you on earth, as you know by now, will be speckled and marred with hardships, even though that was not my original intent for you.  The same would hold true for your precious baby if he or she were to come live on this earth with you.  What would you say if I could guarantee you that your child would never ever have to face any of these hardships and trials of life?  He or she will be destined to paradise, forever in the arms of his or her heavenly Daddy and surrounded by hosts of angels.  There are no tears, pain or suffering here.  Not even a little bit.

I’d love to say you could come and visit when ever you like, but you will someday see that what seems like “forever” to you now is just a blink of an eye compared to eternity.  Before you even realized what happened, you will be reunited with your sweet precious little one.  I think you already know what that is like, as I gave you a glimpse of that here on earth with your first born.  Imagine having another one of those reunions, but this time it will be in my Heavenly Kingdom!

Please don’t worry about what the future holds for you or for your baby.  I promise you it is going to be beautiful in the end.  Just as you carry this baby, I will carry you.

Love,

God

There is no question.  Perhaps this baby is THAT special, that no, William and I are not fit to be his or her parents.  Only God can fulfill that duty.  While there are times that I feel uncomfortable with the lack of control I have here, I am learning more and more every day to release all that I want and think I need to control, and surrender it to God.  He knows what is best for us better than we do.  Can I just trust Him?  Yes.

Day 12 – Shared Sorrow

I am so deeply moved by the outpouring of love from my family and friends over these past days.  My husband was first on the scene, the first one I clung to, the one who held me up when I felt like I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.  Then came my Mom, my sister, my Dad — dropping what ever it was that they were doing to be by our sides.  To help us break the news to our kids, to help us make sense of the broken shards we were in the midst of, just to simply be there when we needed them most.

I’m so touched by my friends and family that showed up bringing food, offering to take my kids out for awhile, lending shoulders to cry on, even just stopping by to see how I’m doing.  The BEAUTIFUL flowers, the dinners, the chocolate covered strawberries, the cards, the books, the e-mails, the text messages, the voicemails, the prayers, the masses being said on our behalf, and even the Facebook posts and comments. It is awe inspiring to know that there are people praying for us who I do not even know.

During a toast at my wedding, my Dad mentioned a quote he had once heard, “Shared happiness is twice the joy, and shared sorrow is half the pain.”  That is most definitely true as it pertains to my husband and myself, but through your willingness to share in our sorrow, you have generously lightened our load.  Someday when we see the beauty that is to come, I can’t wait to share that joy with you too.

I want each of you to know how much you mean to me and that your prayers are not in vain.  I can assuredly feel God’s comfort and peace surrounding me right now like I never have before.  Just 12 days ago, I thought I would never ever smile again, and wondered how life could possibly go on.  Joy has been brought back into my life and for that I am so thankful.

Day 11 – Bible Study

I’m glad I went to Bible Study today.  I’d have liked to have climbed back in bed, but my desire to be around these amazing women of faith was stronger.  I felt emotionally fragile on my way there and was worried that I’d break down crying once I saw everyone.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, many of the tears I cry are not out of sadness or self-pity, but instead they are tears of awe and relief that I have so many people who care about me and who are praying for and with me.  It stirs up an emotion in me that causes me to well up in tears. I am blessed, amazed, and inspired by those who are dealing with their own painful grief, yet manage to find the space in their broken hearts to reach out to me and take on my sorrow in addition to their own.  I am so blessed by these many acts of love.

Day 10 – Sweet Dreams

On his way down the steps at 6:15 this morning, William overheard Greta loudly giggling in her bedroom.  I heard it from ours and wondered HOW she was up already??!! That little girl would sleep until 10 every day if we let her.  William peeked in on her and saw that she was still asleep.  She must be dreaming – sleep giggling.  He kissed and loved on the kids before leaving for work, just as he always does.  When he kissed Greta, she opened her eyes and looked at him with a smile on her face.  He asked if she had been dreaming.  She said she had, so he asked her what it was about.  She said, “It was about you and Mommy.  And you were feeding a baby! And I was playing with Gavin.”  William asked her if the baby in her dream was a boy or a girl.  “A girl,” she responded.

We still don’t know if this sweet baby is a boy or a girl, but we hope that Greta’s dream holds true and that we WILL get to spend some time on earth with this little girl (or boy).  What a sweet message from heaven that was sent at PRECISELY the right time, just as William was on his way to her room.

Day 9 – My Kids

One of the first thoughts that went through my mind after I learned that our baby has T18 was, “My poor kids!!  They can’t go through this!!??”  Gavin and Greta, and Sophie too, were so excited at the prospect of a baby sister or brother.  We talked about names, and all the fun ways things were going to be different with a baby around.  Gavin had his heart set on a little brother, and Greta refused to imagine the baby was anything but a little sister.  They talked about all the ways they might be able to help with the new baby and even practiced “bounce-walking” with our kitten Patches.  Gavin would put his hands on my belly and say, “Hello?  Hello!  WHO. ARE. YOU??” and then stand there as if he were actually expecting a response.  These once treasured moments burned and stung so bad as I recalled them and then realized we’d have to tell our kids that it wasn’t to be.  I had no idea how they were going to respond to the news.  Are Gavin and Greta old enough to understand the rawness of this situation?  And then there is sweet Sophie.  This precious girl has so recently come back into my life and now here she is unintentionally thrust into this tragedy with us.  “This was supposed to be the icing on the cake for us!!!!!” I yell at God.

Upon being told the grave news after school last week, Gavin and Greta were quiet and sympathetic to an extent, but they are still protected by their childhood innocence.  They really have no idea.  I wish the same were true for the rest of us!!!  Even though each of my kids are all processing this differently, I’ve encouraged them to be open with me about their feelings, and not to be afraid about hurting mine.  I’ve also informed their teachers about what is going on here at home.  They have each been incredibly supportive and have promised to keep an eye on my sweet kids while they’re away from me.

My hope is that through this journey, each of my children will see the value I have placed on their own lives.  I have unconditional love for who ever it is that happens to “show up in my uterus” whether I planned on them being there or not, and whether they have the correct amount of chromosomes or not.  Each of the 4 individuals that began their lives through me are a blessed gift from God, and I refuse to see it otherwise.

Day 8 – I Will Carry You

We saw our doctor again today.  At our last meeting he presented us with our options:  to continue the pregnancy or terminate.  Not wanting to sway us one way or the other, he implied that 50% of people chose to continue, 50% chose to terminate.  This was OUR decision and we needed to figure out what was right for US.  He gave us a few days to think it over and now we were reporting back to him.  Fortunately, he had the compassion and flexibility to be able to see us after regular business hours.  I really appreciated that.

While initially, it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do would be to “get this over with” and terminate the pregnancy, that notion quickly faded after about the third day.  My initial argument of, “What difference does it make?  The outcomes will most likely be the same – this baby will just die sooner rather than later,” was made null and void by a statement from my friend Maggie.  She made the point, “Couldn’t the same be said of all of us?  We’re ALL going to die sooner or later!”  She’s right, and I KNOW this, but just needed that gentle reminder amidst my flurry of chaos.  Just goes to show that you should never make a decision out of emotion — no matter what it is.

I explained this to Dr. S. and I watched his face soften as I told him we had decided to continue the pregnancy.  He sat there for a moment with a slight smile on his face and then said, “I’m proud of you.  I’ll be honest with you that most people actually do choose to terminate.  I think you’re doing the right thing.”

This is not an easy road to take, but I believe that God will first give us the strength needed to make it through, and then He will bless us beyond our wildest dreams.  I’ve read several Legacy pages of infants born with T18, and the common theme among all of them is what a blessing these babies are in the lives of their families.  Not one of these families would rewind time to change a thing other than they wish they hadn’t worried so much.

Each night before we go to bed, we thank God for giving us the strength and peace to have made it through another day.  Each morning we ask for more, and He pours it out to us generously.

I found this song by Selah called “I Will Carry You” (for which this blog was named after)

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I’m brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because he loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life 
And I will praise the one who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to his voice
And he says
I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the one who’s chosen me
To carry you 

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While I have made the decision to carry this baby while her (or his) heart beats here, God is carrying me with the same tenderness and love x infinity.