I pick this up now, 2 days later, as the very moment I was writing was interrupted by a text and a picture of a beautiful, newly born, baby girl. And so what started as a dream of what was to come is now a look in the rear view mirror of the events of the past couple of days.
And so, as we left to head to the hospital, I managed to hunt down one of the last Mother's Day balloons in the greater Phoenix area at the Safeway across the street. And as we walked into the waiting room on the 2nd floor we were met by mothers, siblings, cousin, uncle and aunt--wide-eyed and walking on the clouds that reside above the 9th, they said "look, look, over here! She's over here!". And as I approached the glass to the nursery (am I the only one that thinks it's a little bit like the zoo?? There are even signs that say don't bang on the glass!!), my eyes landed on 10 lbs and 3 oz of pure miracle. And the tears flowed as I recounted in my mind the journey that I'd watched this baby's mama walk, that led up to this moment. Moments that had been dark, sad, hopeless, and angry. Moments that had been wrought with death. And here. Right in front of my face. Was life. Squalling, wiggling, life. And as I sat several hours later, holding the bundle that I still couldn't quite believe was real, my heart felt as though it would burst. I wanted one too. But this one? This one was a gift. And as I sat with my counselor last night and tried to make sense of it all, I had an epiphery. (..Michael Scott, anyone? The Office? No? Ok, nevermind...) I realized that for the first time in two years-- I wanted to be around a baby. I found myself neglecting dinner time and my puppies to come back on night two for more-- because I wanted to be around this baby. Because she made me smile. And though the sting to my heart was still there, the joy that came from holding her was unmistakable. That has never happened before. Babies remind me of what isn't. They remind me of the little ones that I will never get to hold in this life. And of the one that I so long to hold right now. But something about Charlotte is different. And what most probably don't realize is that Charlotte and my Pearl would have been just a few weeks a part. That my walk down the hall to see my sister friend and hold this baby should have been a waddle. And I have been afraid for months that it would just be too painful. That the loss of being pregnant, having our babies together, and watching our children grow up together would be too great. That I would feel the need to run. To stay away. But the past couple of nights, I have wanted nothing more than to sit with my friend and be near her little one. Wow.
(friends don't take pictures of friends when they are in the hospital and fresh out of major surgery-- so wedding pic it is)
A lot happened last week. A lot. It was a lot. But this Mother's Day was precious. It hurt. But it was precious.
First, there was the comment that my husband made to me just before. "Guess what we have at work again? We have chocolate covered strawberries and I know they're your favorite. We have them for Mother's Day. And since you're a mother, I'm going to get you some."
I will never be able to express the validation, love, and healing that transpired as a result of that sentiment.
Wednesday, my ministry counterpart, sister, and fellow-loss momma left a "basket of sunshine" on my doorstep. Full time mom, ministry co-founder, and full time PCH Child Life Specialist extraordinaire, somehow found time to find all things yellow at Target, put them in a yellow basket, and leave them on a doorstep with a card wishing me joy and sunshine in the midst of a week that was booby-trapped with loss triggers like non other. She even included one of the flowers from our FMN loss garden with the words "To Becky-- a mother"
On Thursday, as Jess and I grappled to find ways to remember our little Nadia on the anniversary of losing her, I was met with another gift on my doorstep. A clock with the words "Dear Sweet Nadia- We are counting the days until we can meet you in heaven. You are missed." Charlotte's mom left that for me. She knows the ache of pregnancy loss all too well, and she wanted me to know something. That she remembered.
And so, my husband and I spent some precious time that night remembering our little one. Letting a balloon go, drinking champagne, eating a cupcake, and leaving some cash in a random formula can at the grocery store-- a small random act of kindness in her name. And as we asked just a few other folks to do the same, we smiled at the donations made to the ministry in her name and the bags of provisions that Karen's family decided to make and hand out to the less fortunate that they encountered through the week. (And I think that was the idea of her kiddos-- so excited to do something in the name of a little one in heaven with Jesus). And our hearts were sad. But they were full.
And the timeline gets a little fuzzy here, but the thoughts and gifts had not yet ended.
A friend, a momma who has been through the deepest and darkest of valleys that I will never understand--who has watched her newborn head into operating room after operating room after operating room over these past few months--who does not have the time, with 2 other little ones on top of caring for her very sick, very precious new heart baby--but somehow managed to leave the sweetest note and pot of flowers on my doorstep Saturday. Just to encourage my heart.
And just before leaving for the hospital on Sunday, I was met with a set of cards and gifts from my husband. The gift was sweet necklace, picked out by my momma, letting me know that she loved me and that I am her sunshine. My momma who has now foregone celebration on 2 Mother's Day's because I have been too grieved to even acknowledge the holiday's existence. And yet, she thought of me. And went out of her way to make me feel loved. Who is a pretty darn good example of what motherhood is all about.
And a card. From my husband. That I did not expect. And touched my heart more than I can really say.
And upon returning from the hospital, was met with yet another doorstep offering. (I know you're starting to think, What??? This is crazy! You aren't that special and there's a lot of hurting people out there, not just you. I know!! That's what I was thinking too!!) And as I opened the card and pulled the tissue from the gift bag, I found a bracelet. A bracelet with the initials and birthstones of all 3 of my babies. And a beautiful wooden keepsake box--and in it were 3 flowers and 3 monogrammed charms for my babies. From a fellow loss momma-- whom, in truth, I have never been exceptionally close with--who crafted the bracelet and each piece in the box with her own hands. Just for me. On Mother's Day. Talk about lost for words...
And finally. The last token came today. From my cousin who is really more of a sister than a distant relative. Who is very busy raising 3 little ones of her own and running her own stellar photography business. Who started the whole thing more than a year ago, with a Willow Tree piece titled "Remembrance". And today, she sent me the figure of a mother holding a child, titled "Mother's Embrace."
And I never meant for this entry to sound like the staccato timeline that it does. I meant to take a moment and think. Really think. About what I have. Do I think it's as easy as "don't focus so much on what you don't have, think about what you do have!"? No. I don't. And please don't ever say that to a grieving mother. But do I think that I have been gifted with a great deal of over-the-top love and support to make it through this season? Yes. I do. I dread my next due date, just around the corner, because I know it's going to be a painful one. But people are showing up. And the body of Christ is doing its job. And some days, that gives me some hope to hold on to.
Those of you who have reached out to me? Have sent me messages, texts, and posted on my Facebook wall? Who fall in this timeline of precious events detailed here? And the ones who have been sending cards, gifts, and other sentiments along the way? (Did I mention that last week yet another friend, a different one, sent me a card and a gift because she didn't want me to be left out of the baby shower that would have included my Pearl??? Who even thinks of that kind of thing??!) You know who you are. All of you. And I'm not good at much but I'm pretty okay with words most of the time. But this time? I'm really at a loss. Because I know you are sweet, caring people. And I know that you have momma hearts. And I know that you love Jesus and love his people. But I never expected you to show up for me quite like this. You've shown up when I least deserve it--and when I most need it. I am thankful. And you challenge and inspire me to do something, to show up for someone else. To love, encourage, and walk with the sad, wounded, and faint of heart. To not let your gifts and your sacrifice end here with me.
"26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." 1 Cor 12
"9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal 6