This is one of those rare moments. When everything is quiet. And I have been sitting down for more than 5 minutes. And I've been thinking the past few days, what with all these videos flying around the social media-sphere, about life, and motherhood, and grief, and this most insane, couldn't-make-it-up-if-I-tried story that God seems to be writing into my life. Or is it that He is writing my life into this story. ?
Either way, per usual, it's a struggle for me to get my mind around it all.
I don't have time (or let's face it- the brain capacity) to start back at the very beginning, but I can't help but think about where I was about 3 years ago.
A couple of days before, I had shuffled my way from the exam room back out to the appointment desk. The receptionist acted as though I was a nuisance and annoyingly asked when I needed to schedule my follow up for.
"Um, I need to schedule surgery. A D&C for as soon as possible, please."
Instantly she softened and escorted me to a spot away from the hubub of the largest baby factory in the greater Phoenix area.
I'm so glad that I never had to set foot in that place ever again.
And so, as I've recounted in my writing too many times before, the next few days brought a great deal of pain and grief as we experienced the birth of our second child into heaven. And we were broken. And we were hopeless. And I felt forgotten.
It was 3 days before Mother's Day.
And there is something. About this holiday. That will always always break my heart just a little bit. That will make me feel that pain once again. That will resurrect the darkness. And the despair. That will trigger me back to a time and place where it felt as though every commercial, every facebook post, every restaurant, and every store was mocking my pain.
My arms are full of babies now and I still feel it. Every year.
And as much as I feel it for myself, I feel it for my sisters that I've left behind. The ones who are still waiting. Who are nearly out of hope. Feeling forgotten. And wondering when their rainbow will come.
Because not everyone gets their rainbow.
And somehow God has seen it fit to give me two.
And what about all of the birth moms out there? I'm so glad that so many recognize the Sunday before Mother's Day as Bereaved Mother's Day- and of course, everyone knows Mother's Day. But how many know that the Saturday before the holiday has been deemed Birth Mom's Day?
I'm guessing not very many.
Not only does she go on without her child, but she stands by and watches someone else raising her, loving her, mothering her.
There is putting a child in the ground and there is watching them live as a part of a completely different family- with traditions and birthdays and holidays that don't include the one who brought them into this world. Which is harder? I don't know.
But both are impossible.
So tomorrow is Mother's Day. A day that I'm reminded of the daughter that I lost on May 8, 2014. A day when I miss all of my children who aren't here. And when my heart hurts for the other loss moms and the birth moms who feel an extra sting that day.
But also a day where I am called to celebrate the privilege of having a mom. And of being a mom. And if you would have told me 2 years ago that in one short year,we would be standing in front of our church family promising to raise our 5 month old daughter to know and love the Lord, I would have laughed. And if on that day, one year ago, you told me that once again, on Mother's Day we would be standing in front of the church, this time dedicating our second daughter to the Lord- I might have actually smacked you for making such a seemingly cruel joke.
And yet here we are.
Suffice it to say, this day carries more emotion for me than most other days. And I don't know how to say it other than this:
To the moms: of little ones, big ones, and the middle ones with the braces and awkwardness in between. I know now more than ever that you really are in the trenches every day. Maybe you work outside the home too, maybe you don't. But there is no doubt: you work. hard. They say that the days are long but the years are short. I'm just at the long day part right now, but I've seen enough around me to believe that second part is true too. So love big. Hug often. Put down the vacuum for a few minutes. Take a nap when the opportunity arises. And be gentle with yourself because what you are doing is hard work but the fact is, no one else can mother your kids as well as you. They weren't given to you by mistake.
To the moms with empty arms: I know you ache. I know some days it takes everything in your being just to get out of bed and get dressed. To eat breakfast and to present any semblance of sanity to the outside world. Or even to yourself. Because sometimes you have to fake it til you make it. I know you feel alone. And I know you feel rejected. And betrayed. And to you I say: do what you must to survive. Dye your hair. Get a tattoo. Adopt a puppy. Take a trip. Write a memoir. Plant a memorial garden. Start a support group. Surround yourself with family, friends, and mentors that don't require you to be anything other than what you are; even if what you are is an utter mess. Ask them to pray with you. Ask them to sit with you. Ask them to carry hope for you because you can't carry it for yourself. Ask them to watch cartoons with you. Whatever it is. Breathe. and throw whatever you have left into asking God to use your pain. To use the life of your child or children for something good. And then turn the cartoons back on. And for today. That's enough.
To my mom: You know I'm not good at the mushy stuff. But you can thank my dad for that because half of my genetic makeup is him. So this is easier for me to say here than it is for me to say it in person. I get it. I'm only a year and four months in. And I get it. I get how you felt when I was born. I get how you felt when you held me for the first time. And I get how you felt when they told you that you would be going home without me for a while. And I get that that would only be the very first of many many times that your mother heart would break for me, your daughter. Because now that I know what it is to experience all of that. I have a glimpse of how it must have felt as the years went on. And there were moments that I made you proud. And moments that I infuriated you. And moments where all you wanted to do was take the pain away. To put it on yourself so that I wouldn't have to experience it. But you couldn't. Or rather; you couldn't take it away but I understand now that you must have felt everything that I felt right along with me. The times that I was terrified and the times that I was broken. I really put you through it, didn't I? There is so much that I wish I could take back. But then we both know that we wouldn't be where we are today without some of those hard times we endured. I don't think I would be at your house 2-3x per week. I don't think my kids would be taking over your home and filling the backyard with shrieks and giggles and smiles. And I don't think we would be just sitting at the dinner table after everyone has gone, talking about life and love and loss. It feels silly to say that I love you. And so I say this: I need you. And that will never change.
To my daughters: It's impossible to know where to begin or how to even wrap this up. On a similar note, if you guys could quit stealing every single one of my brain cells every day and leave me with just a few, that would be great. <3 I will never in a million billion years be able to make you understand how desperately I want to be your mom. The depths that God asked me to wade through to get to you. And how convinced I became that you simply didn't exist. And so if some days, I seem surprised to see you. Please know that I don't have short term memory loss. It's just that sometimes I wake up and think that maybe you were a dream. One that was too good to be true. The thing is, I am going to fail you a hundred times in a hundred different ways. I already have. You live here, so you know. So I can't promise perfection, or anything even close to it, but I can promise you this: Neither of you were a mistake. Quite the opposite- each of you is a bona fide modern-day miracle. See, I tried to make you happen. Your dad and me- we did everything within our power to force your existence. To find you. But we couldn't. And so, when you came to us- Babies- it was by no accident. Yes- it's true that you came to us in very different ways. And I know that all of us will have our struggles with that- trust me- I worry about that every single day. I worry about making everything even. Exactly the same for both of you. Perfect. Fair. But the reality is, I will never succeed in that. Isobel- I never carried you in my body, but I carried you fully in my heart, before you even took your first breath. I searched for you through dry deserts and torrential downpours. I waited and waited and waited for you. I fought for you. I jumped off of cliffs for you. And I trusted God with you. And I have never been so scared to lose anything in my whole entire life, as I was scared to lose you. And I would do it all over again. I know that we will have our issues. That you will wonder. And you will grieve. Which is why, from the day you were born, I begged God to hold you, comfort you, ease your pain, and bring you healing and peace. I know none of it will be easy. When you really understand it. When it all sinks it. And I know that I won't be able to change the challenging journey that will be for you. But I promise that I will be at your side. I'll hold your hand. I'll wipe your tears. And I will walk through it with you. Roselynn- You're only 11 weeks old and already I carry so much regret. I know you will never remember this, but last night as I rocked you back to sleep, something clicked. And it was like someone hit the replay button. And I saw the last 10 months flash before my eyes. All the times when I would pick up a newborn outfit at the store. And quickly place it back on the rack. When I would catch myself trying to picture your face- and automatically redirect my thought to anything else. Or the worst. When I would realize my hand was resting on my belly. And I would immediately move it away. And re-watching those moments in my mind last night, something happened and the proverbial dam burst. Because now you are here. And I know you're real. And you are the cuddliest bug. And that I'm your mom. And I think you know that. But Rose. I just. Was afraid to want you. And never expected you. And when you start to understand that. When it all sinks in. I'm afraid you may hate me. That you will believe that you weren't wanted. But baby. I searched for you through dry deserts and torrential downpours. I waited and waited and waited for you. I fought for you. I jumped off of cliffs for you. And I trusted God with you. And I have never been so scared to lose anything in my whole entire life, as I was scared to lose you. And I would do it all over again. So hear me now. You, my fluffy-haired child, are deeply wanted and deeply loved. And your very existence is nothing short of a miracle.
On this day set aside to celebrate. To honor mothers. I can't help but chuckle as I think on the events of this evening and shake my head just a little at the constant lessons and perspective shifts that seem to happen at the end of every day in this current stage of life. See, I had plans today. Plans to plan. Plans to prepare. Plans to pack the diaper bags, get the clothes ironed, clean the kitchen, wrap the gifts, finish this blog, spend time with my husband, and get to bed early.
Now you're chuckling too.
I'm so grateful that God sent me these beautiful girls. Yes, they are a picture of hope and of healing and of restoration. But they are also a perfectly, lovely, messy, constant reminder of the love that Christ has for me. It is true that He is our heavenly father, but is it not also true that He has a mother heart? Does He not also know what it is to put all plans, desire, comfort, and need to the side for the better of another? Does He not also know what it is to be willing to give His life for the children He loves? He does. And He did. And while I'll never achieve perfection status in this motherhood journey, I can pray that He molds my mother heart to be even just a little more like His- and reminds me just how fortunate I am to be a part of it all.