A week before our scheduled c-section date, I sat and imagined what that day might hold. How it would feel to see her, to hold her, to love her, and then to give her back to her creator. I could imagine no joy on that day......but, I was wrong.
Several days before our scheduled c-section date, 10-15 women from our church gathered with me in the quietness of a friend's living room for what I can best describe as a prayer shower. It was an evening filled with fellowship, tasty treats, thoughtful presents, and prayer. The encouragement and wisdom these women imparted helped to calm my anxiety and gave me a greater sense of peace and courage to take the next required step. One of my friends said her hope and prayer was that my fear and sorrow would subside enough for me to fully see the joy and blessings of our precious daughter.
On the way to the hospital, I told Craig I had made the decision to do just as my friend described. I put away as much of the fear and sorrow I could, decided to trust God for His faithfulness, and chose to look for the joy and blessings in what our day might hold.
Reminding myself..."God's grace is sufficient for today"
From the moment I heard (yes, heard her cries) and saw her and held her...I loved her more completely than I could have ever imagined. I looked at our Lily Grace and only saw the beauty in her creation. Her skin was so beautifully pink, silky soft, and she smelled so sweet. Her lips, well, they were a replica of mine I suppose, and we enjoyed putting on a little lip-gloss every now and then. Her fingers were delicately long, and she had nails long enough to warrant a little bit of girly nail polish (though we never did that).
We were amazed by her! With Lily's original diagnosis, we were told that ancephalic babies are unable to see, hear, move (other than small reflexes), or feel pain. It seemed apparent to us that she could do those things. She seemed to follow certain voices. She did not like when her eyes got covered with a hat or blanket prohibiting her from seeing. We loved when she would grasp our fingers with her hands (yes, reflexive), but she had other movements that seemed to be a bit greater than reflexes. As I got to know her more, I could tell when she was sleeping and relaxed vs. bothered by gas or uncomfortable. I didn't want to miss a moment with her. I didn't want to let her out of my arms. We took great pleasure in caring for her. I figured I could sleep later and be sad later...I just wanted to be happy in the moments during the time we were priviledged to have her with us. It felt like a giant blessing, a miracle of sorts to be blessed with time. And, it made my heart soar.
Lily's anomoly affected the top of her head and her left eye. Though severe, it wasn't something that turned us away from her. I guess we accepted her as she was. As long as she seemed content, we were content to care for her, love on her, and keep her with us. It wasn't until her eye started to really swell and the back of her anomoly started to ooze with irratation from rubbing against blankets that I started to feel selfish for wanting her to stay. Letting her go was terribly heartwrenching. It was so painful watching her struggle her last several hours of life that I just kept praying her on to the safer, more comfortable place I knew was waiting for her.
Grieving is a confusing process for me right now. I've been trying to find and put words to describe how I am feeling. There is an amazing amount of peace in knowing we submitted to God's plan. There is an abundant amount of joy in knowing we were blessed with 5 1/2 precious days with our beautiful baby girl. And, yet there is still a deep bit of saddness in missing her presence with us and in thoughts of 'what could have been'. So, these feelings of peace, joy, and saddness intermingle and come and go like the waves of the ocean. Some waves seem to knock me over and take my breath away. Other waves I am able to float on top, where the joy and saddness to seem to balance each other out. And, there are those occasional waves of joy that are as exhilirating as riding a wave to shore. The waves stir and mix these emotions, just as the sand and shells release from the ocean floor and go in and out with the tide.
It's interesting how people grieve differently and at different times. Craig seems to tear up when running his fingers over her hand mold or watching her slideshow of pictures or listening to Justin pray that "Lily had a great Christmas in Heaven". These are the very things that bring joy to my heart. For me, the hurt doesn't come from remembering her. It comes when I realize how much I will miss her being a part of our family and watching her grow, play, learn, etc. Justin continues to fill our hearts with bittersweet moments. He asks about Lily every now and then, continues to spell her name, sings 'Lily's Song' over and over again, waves to her in Heaven, and says he misses her. His grieving seems to be done in very small bits and pieces. It doesn't seem overwhelming or behavior altering. Evan is still delightfully oblivious. He continues to bring laughter to our souls. When he sees pictures of Lily's feet, he says, "stinky feet!". Not at all true, but funny none the less.
I will post a slideshow of Lily's photos soon! Thank you for traveling this journey with us.