Sunday, March 22, 2015

Small Everyday Moments

The trip had been planned for months.  I had been mentally preparing with therapy visits and reaffirmations, but no matter what I had done previously, when I stepped on the plane I was overcome with emotion.  There, in row 1, sat a mom and dad with a baby around Olive's age.  I turned to my husband, tears forming in the corner of my eyes, "this should be Olive's first plane ride."

We were headed south for a two-part trip.  The first leg of the trip was to visit our new niece, born one month prior.  The second part of the trip, planned very much on purpose, a four day getaway for the two of us a couple hours north to Charleston where we could reconnect and decompress.  I had no idea what to expect, meeting Olive's new cousin without Olive was starting out more difficult than I had planned.  We didn't cover this in my therapy visits - how would I deal with a crying baby on the plane ride? I couldn't just put on my running shoes and proclaim I was going out for a morning jog, and make my escape when I was feeling overwhelmed - no, this was not part of the plan.

Lucky for me our seats were at the back of the plane, and the baby didn't make a peep - at least not one I could hear.  Whew - that was a close one.

The 2 hour drive from the airport to Savannah was a leisurely one.  My husband and I chatted and listened to music, but the signs on the drive indicating that we were getting closer and closer to Savannah were reminding me of the moment I had been eager for and dreading all at the same time.  This trip was supposed to look much different.  It wasn't just going to be Olive's first plane ride or first trip to the ocean, no, this trip was supposed to be much more.  This trip would be a test of our parenting ability - could we travel with a baby?  Would she sleep on the plane or make a fuss?  How do you check a stroller? Do you rent a car seat at the car rental place or bring yours with you? My sister-in-law and I would share stories of newborn struggles over a hot cup of coffee.  We'd exchange stories of our new motherhood experiences in between nursing babies and diaper changes.

What was happening?  The panic began to set in.  Just as I was about to lose it in the car my husband nudged me to look out the window.  There, out the driver's side window, I saw the most beautiful rainbow - full of color and radiance.  The tears began again, except this time they were tears of relief - God was there, Olive was in my heart and we would survive this trip.

I definitely had moments of doubt and frustration, and there were moments where I needed to take a breath and recompose myself.  I couldn't help but get teary-eyed watching my husband rock our niece to sleep, or picturing us sitting on a blanket with Olive under moss-lined trees as we took a break from the hot Savannah sun. Every day there were moments that reminded me that she was not there physically.  The volume of the radio in the rental car - kept much higher than would have been appropriate for a small child, driving with the windows rolled down to let in the warm breeze,  eating raw oysters and other shellfish (we never could have gone to that nice of a restaurant with a 7 month old, and had we not lost our second baby - raw fish is a no-no when you're pregnant), late night dinners instead of having to call it an early evening because baby (or mama) needed to sleep. The harsh reality hit me every chance it could get - but I would not let it break me.

God continued to give me signs - for as many reminders of what I was missing, there were equal or more reminders that He was with me and she was OK.  I cannot begin to tell you how often I saw a butterfly or the word Olive.  Whether it was a butterfly on a scarf in a shop window or the Olive Branch A.M.E. church we passed on our way back to the airport - God knew what I needed when I needed it.  I felt His love and her memory in those small everyday moments. 

While standing in the ocean, still too cold to swim in but warm enough to dip your toes in, I contemplated whether Olive would have enjoyed the feel of the sand between her toes or let out a cry at the shock of the temperature on her little piggies.  Just as I started to feel the emotion well up in my throat, the sun peeked through the clouds.  I stood there with my eyes closed, listening to the waves roll back and forth over my ankles and allowed God to embrace me with the heat of the sunshine.  

She was OK. 
I was OK.
We are going to be OK.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Am I Enough?

"Am I enough?" I asked my husband one lonely Saturday night while lying in bed.  I had hit rock bottom, and felt like I was spinning out of control. Two days prior I had woken up and realized that our second baby was also going to make it to heaven before we'd have the chance to bring he or she home.  The reality that hit me that night was tougher than I could have imagined.

I may never bring a baby home.

Suffering another loss on top of the crippling one that we had just gone through a mere 6 months prior seemed like a cruel joke. Just weeks before my husband and I got the news that both terrified and excited me - baby #2 was on the way.  I knew I was pregnant - I had another special and peaceful dream, there were direct signs that it was coming - and even though I knew what I was going to see when I looked down at that stick, it still was a surreal moment.  Tears flowed, I hit my knees to give thanks and then ran to tell my husband that our dream of having another child was coming true.

I went through a slew of emotions - excited, anxious, frustrated and then giddy.  Day after day, new feelings.  Shortly after finding out I was pregnant I shared the news with some other mamas that have suffered loss - there were a handful of them that were also expecting, and I wanted to share my joy too.  There were 4 of us that were going to be mommies again, I was thrilled - for us all!

Until I tried to fall asleep that night, that is.  The only thought I could think of was, "1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss."  How awful.  It was in that moment that I realized that no pregnancy of mine would ever be the same.  Ever.

I guess statistics don't lie.  Weeks later I found myself curled up in a ball on the couch, crying my eyes out to episodes of Parenthood, realizing that I was 0 for 2.  What an awful feeling.  At least my babies have each other, I kept telling myself as I scrolled through newsfeeds of friends announcing due dates right around when I would have been expecting again. 

Babies were being made.  Babies were being born.  Mine were dying.

While different, the two losses have brought out the same gut-wrenching feelings.  I'd like to say, since I've been here before, that I'm handling them better - but I fear I'm not.  Or wasn't.  Depends on the day, I suppose.

That night, while bawling my eyes out to my husband, I wanted to know if I was enough.  If we never brought home any babies, would I be enough for the rest of our lives? That question lingered on my mind and in my heart for days.  Until I realized God was asking me the same thing.

"Am I Enough?"

"If the only babies I ever gave you are the ones you've had to say good-bye to, will you still trust me?"

"If the only chance to know your children is when you get to heaven to meet them, do you believe in my promises to be faithful to you and bring you home to meet them?"

"Do you believe that I still love you and have not left you, even in this?"

"Am I Enough?"

A month later and I can say that I'm getting there.  I wish I could tell you that my response has been, "Yes, Lord - you are enough," but it hasn't.  I'm not there yet - I don't know how long it will take, but I will tell you that I won't stop trying. 

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be.
George Matheson, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go"

I believe that hope is greater than fear.  I believe that love can mend broken hearts.  I believe that this will make me a better, stronger mother. In the end, I believe that none of this will matter when I see my babies and we get to spend our forever together.