One year ago today I was roughly 10 weeks pregnant, preparing to go out and celebrate the new year with my husband. I was probably just waking from a nap so that I could make it until midnight. We enjoyed a nice Mexican dinner out (because that's what I was craving my entire 1st semester) and went to see a favorite comedian downtown. One year ago today I had big plans for 2014 - it was going to be "our year", we were planning to go on one last big trip and then the rest of the year would be dedicated to our growing family. One year ago today I was naïve to what my 2014 would really look like, my head was clouded with the blissful innocence that comes with pregnancy and the uncertainty of what motherhood would bring to my life.
Now that I've had the whole year to reflect on, it's bittersweet to be honest. I've actually been thinking more about the new year than I did about Christmas. For as much heartache that we experienced this year, I'm a little sad to see 2014 go.
This year started with a fun announcement to family and friends that we were expecting Baby Smith, an announcement that many had been waiting years for! We traveled to Arizona for Spring Training as we normally do - except this trip we found out that our extended family was growing too! Then we came home and found out my sister was pregnant, and later we would find out that my sister in law was pregnant. Other friends and family would also make big announcements along the way - what a fantastic year to have a baby!
May brought us a much needed trip to Belize, a "baby moon" if you will. My husband and I explored the island, reconnected and enjoyed some peace and quiet before baby. As I layed in bed last night thinking about that trip I was reminded of the amazing food, the kind and congratulatory people we would meet along the road who would exclaim, "congrats, mama!" as I would waddle by with my growing belly. We hit the 30 week mark while we were there - 10 weeks until we'd meet baby. In reality, 10 weeks until we'd also say goodbye. I think of the sweet mama-to-be that I met on the flight from the island to the mainland, she was due in September. I wonder what she had, and if she remembers me the way I remember her. She'll never know that my baby didn't make it.
We were honored by family and friends who would shower us with love, gifts and well wishes. They helped to put finishing touches on our nursery and made sure our shelves were stocked with all the necessities we would need to welcome this sweet child.
Then the day we had been preparing for - the day we became parents was finally upon us. A terrifying and amazing day all wrapped into one. I got to watch as my husband became a father, I immediately fell deeper in love with him and my heart grew a million times bigger when they laid that baby on my chest. I had dreamt of a daughter my whole life, and here she was! Just as quickly as she came into this world - she left us to go be with Jesus. In 36 short hours I went from being a mother to being a bereaved mother. In the first week after my daughter was born I had watched her struggle to breathe, held her as she was carried off to the angels, purchased the only dress she would ever wear and said goodbye to her as her shell laid in a casket.
Not the warmest welcome to motherhood, that's for sure.
Yet 5 months later I sit here thinking about how our life has changed because of her. My faith has been rocked to the core, yet never in my life have I been so committed to God, knowing He is truly the only lifeline I have from this life to the next. There is only one way to see my daughter again - and that's through the One who gave us both life and has been in control from the beginning of time. My marriage is stronger than ever, I can honestly say I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible. For as much heartache as Olive's death brought, I wouldn't trade that small amount of time with her for anything (well, except maybe for more time with her!) If God asked me today to do it all over again, I would - if it meant that I got to be her mom.
The same friends and family that showered us with love and gifts before baby have opened their hearts to us yet again - this time in the form of love and prayers. The amount of people that Olive's life has touched literally brings me to my knees. Friends near and far have rallied behind us, showing us a support that I honestly never knew existed. You, dear friend, whether I know you in person or not - whether we've been friends for 30 years or 3 days or have never even met - you have touched my life in ways you will never know.
My "friends" list on Facebook and Instagram looks a lot different than it did one year ago today. While it saddens me that many of these friends are in my life because of our angel babies, I'm also honored and privileged to know them and be a part of all of this with them. I know that sounds weird - and don't misunderstand me - I would never choose to be a bereaved parent over one that isn't; but if I have to be a part of the "club" I'm honored and so incredibly humbled that I get to go on this journey with the people I have met. It's almost as if there are no words - well, there aren't - to explain the sense of community and identity that I feel from some of these women (I shouldn't discriminate - the dads are pretty amazing too!). Each and every one of them has experienced a pain and heartache that can't be described - it can only be felt, and each one of us feels it differently. I pray none of you will ever have to feel this pain - but reality tells me that someday, some of you may and I'm thankful that there are resources and support to see parents through it.
So even though 2014 brought a lot of sadness and grief, it was also the year I became a mother - and that changed me - forever. Watching 2014 make it's way out the door saddens me because at least 2014 feels familiar. It might not be a good familiar, but I know what I'm working with right now - I know where my heart is, I've gotten accustomed to the pain and even though lugging around a heart as heavy as mine is exhausting, it's become who I am.
When I wake up tomorrow it's almost as if I'm being forced to move on - which I know isn't a bad thing, but I don't know that I'm ready. While I have hopes and dreams for 2015, I'm leaving myself open to the will of God, and trying to remind myself of my new motto, "His perfect will in His perfect way." My prayer for 2015 is a prayer for wisdom and discernment, a prayer for strength and peace, a prayer that I'll be able to continue to see the hand of God in everything. I also pray that you continue to join us on this journey, that our story helps to open up the closet that infant loss hides behind and allows us to begin a new conversation. I pray that we all can open our hearts a little more, that we can be vulnerable together and that love will lead the way.
Blessings for a healthy and happy new year - thank YOU for the incredible love and support you have shown our family in 2014.