Hallelujah...after 67 weeks of being pregnant, tomorrow is finally the day we head to the hospital. We will start the induction process tomorrow evening and hopefully have our baby in our arms by Friday. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving night and I can't imagine a more perfect night to start the end of this journey- we have so much to be thankful for! As I reflect on all that has happened over the last year, I am thankful for the joys and the heartaches. The loss of Bristol has deeply affected me- changed me as a person- and I can be thankful for that transformation. God truly does work in amazing ways- only He has the power to bring good things from heartaches. I used to dread the Thanksgiving holiday- it always seemed to be a holiday of stress in my family...but this year will bring new meaning and joy to the holiday. A welcome reminder that regardless of any circumstance, we all truly have a lot to be thankful for.
As I sit here writing this, I am trying to sort through the plethora of emotions. I am thrilled and excited that we are finally close to having this baby in our arms and starting a new chapter in our family story. I am scared and terrified of the "what ifs" and know that even though we are close, nothing is guaranteed. My emotional cocktail has everything in the cupboard and today has been an emotional ride of ups and downs. I have tried to savor Brody's every movement, tried to lock those memories in of what it feels like to have him move inside me, and keep myself busy to focus on the positives. As we've approached the "date" my emotions have ranged from total emotional meltdowns (crying and sobbing, just wanting the baby out now while I know he's alive) to excited anticipation (cleaning and preparing for his arrival), and to fear of another delivery. Everyone says a subsequent pregnancy is a difficult, ever changing, emotional roller coaster...and it only seems to gets harder the closer you get to delivery.
I have found myself begging, pleading, and bargaining with God - Please keep this baby safe and healthy. Please bless us as we bring this baby into the world. Thank you for the blessing of life and the blessing of Bristol and Brody. Please, please let us keep him on this earth- at least for a little while. Please help me to be the person you have designed me to be- help me to be a good parent. Please don't make me hold another silent baby. Please don't make us say goodbye before we get a hello. I know you are a loving, gracious God, so you won't make us go through another heartache- right? And on they go...
These "moments" happen when I'm in the shower or driving- my quiet alone time. The other day I thought about what I was really praying- I wonder what God thinks about my desperate, selfish pleas? What is the prayer I should pray? I can't hide or change my feelings, but is it really appropriate to bargain or challenge God? His plans are already made- I can't change them- I need to have faith in his good and perfect plan, even if it's not the plan I want. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now, but apparently I am still work in progress.
This reminded me of a song I've heard a song on the radio- Better than a Hallelujah- and suddenly my desperate prayers didn't seem so selfish and out of line. Maybe God welcomes the honest cries of our hearts...
God loves a lullaby
in a mother's tears in the dead of night
better than a Hallelujah sometimes....
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Thursday, November 4, 2010
As we approach the anniversary of Bristol's birth, Brad and I discussed how we were going to celebrate/remember Bristol. We didn't want the birth of a new baby to overshadow her day- a day that is forever implanted on our hearts. For this pregnancy, we were able to receive a doppler from Tiny Heartbeats...a non-profit organization that provides fetal monitors from women who have experienced a loss after 12 weeks. I learned from the founder that the organization only had about 50 monitors, thus many women were placed on a waiting list before receiving a doppler. Anyone who has experienced a subsequent pregnancy following a loss, knows how reassuring being able to hear the baby's heartbeat can be. We decided that we would raise money to donate to Tiny Heartbeats in honor of Bristol- so that other women and families could benefit from the same reassurance we have received during this pregnancy. We sent letters to family and friends asking for donations- and were overwhelmingly blessed to raise $1000.00 in donations! Our hearts were bursting with gratefulness and excitement as we sent the donations to Tiny Heartbeats. The founder was overwhelmed by our donation- and incredibly thankful for the impact it would have on her organization. She has sent me emails from women who have received a 'Bristol doppler' - and it is a sweet reminder of how her short life will forever impact other women and families who have experienced a loss. She is working on a tribute to Bristol on the organization's website- and we are excited to know that Bristol will be remembered in a special way- not only by our friends and families, but by others who will receive one of her dopplers.
I remember the night we came from the hospital. Bristol had been born just a few hours before and the shock of the loss had yet to set in. One of the first things I did was collect every baby book, item, and ultrasound picture and hide it away in my hope chest. I knew the following days were going to be hard and I didn't want any extra reminders sitting around the house. Up until recently, all baby items have continued to be stored away in the hope chest and out of sight. But as we have received gifts and had baby showers- baby items have overflowed from the hope chest and closet. Having baby items in sight has been huge adjustment for me...a reminder that we are getting closer to the birth of this baby, but also a reminder of what can happen. We have procrastinated getting a nursery ready for this baby- looking back on Bristol, it was a blessing we didn't have more baby items or a nursery to come home to- but we are only a few weeks from his arrival, and as much as I want to be "prepared", I also don't want to come home to a heartache if something were to happen. It's a double edged sword. We have been blessed to have family and friends help us get ready in these last few weeks. I am sure for "normal" pregnancies, preparing the nursery, washing the clothes, etc are exciting moments that are cherished by the soon-to-be parents. But I find myself procrastinating and ignoring what needs to be done. I can't seem to 'believe' we're going to have a baby until he's in my arms...and probably won't fully relax until I see he's safely here. Thankfully, friends and family have stepped in and done the things I have been incredibly hesitant to do- put the crib together, get baby items out of the boxes and put together, wash and sort clothes, put the car seat base in the car, and prepare a diaper bag and overnight bag. It's weird seeing baby stuff in our house- and seeing things that were purchased when we were pregnant with Bristol. Yet another reminder of the incredible journey we've been on to being parents. It's a hard balance of being sad about Bristol and excited about Brody, but God has whispered in my heart an awesome reminder: Children are a gift from God. Psalms 127:3 And I tell myself, this is true even if we get to keep them with us here on earth, or they spend their lives in eternity.
One of the things I was unprepared for was returning to the hospital where Bristol was born. A family member had her baby this week at the same hospital where we delivered Bristol, and I had planned on visiting them the day she was born. I have heard from others that returning to the same hospital/dr office where you had your loss is very hard, and often people change facilities because of it. I convinced myself I would be ok (ignoring the little voice in the back of my head asking, "are you sure?") - this wasn't my baby after all! And I was happy and excited to meet the new family member. I finished my meetings for the day and drove to the hospital. I got parked and then anxiety/emotion set in. I couldn't get out of the car- I was crying and trying to sort through the plethora of emotions. What if I see our nurse or doctor? What if she's in the same delivery room? What if I see a leaf on the door? (this is what the hospital used to mark rooms for those who had lost their babies.) All the memories of our labor, delivery, and leaving the hospital empty handed swept over me, taking me by complete surprise. This was a time to be happy, not sad...and I decided it was best to not go in- I needed to pull myself together! I didn't want to be upset in the hospital- this was a time of celebration and joy- and I didn't want to take away from it. As I drove home, I was surprised at how overwhelmed I became at just being at the hospital. I felt like all the "progress" I had made the last few months, suddenly disappeared and I was just as grief stricken as I was in the beginning. Maybe I needed more time- it hasn't been that long since Bristol was born. Maybe time would help heal those memories and the anxiety of returning to "that" place. Or maybe, I needed to spend more time in prayer for peace about Bristol...or maybe this is just part of the journey. There is nothing "normal" about going through a loss- it changes every subsequent action and feeling, and there isn't a guide to help walk you through it. A friend who suffered a loss told me once that, one can not truly heal without the power and love of Christ to help us heal- he is the ultimate healer. It's kind of amazing to think about- how did I ever survive what some consider to be one of the greatest losses? How have I been able to find peace in losing Bristol and see some of the blessings that have come from her life? I know I didn't do it on my own, I am not that strong! An excerpt from one of the books I have read has helped me find some peace: "God has a unique plan and purpose for every child conceived. We may not fully understand His plan. We may not be able to comprehend God's purposes. But we can know with faith that our perfect God does not err. He does not allow a conception that is beyond His sovereign plan and purposes." I know I'm a work in progress, but I am learning to be able to remember Bristol and our loss, with some form of hope and peace.