I thought I would always envision Lily as a newborn baby. The picture I hold closest to my heart is, of course, of her as a newborn. But, that's not what I feel like I am missing. I feel like I should be carrying around a 6-month old on my hip. Lily should be rolling over, scootching (possibly starting to crawl, if she'd be anything like our boys), tasting new foods, sleeping through the night (ahh). So, I guess I'm missing the milestones.
I didn't expect this part of the process. I guess I thought I would "carry Lily as long as God intended" and then go back to living normally. Why didn't I anticipate this part? I guess I tried to focus on each day, remembering that God's grace is sufficient for today. No matter where I go, I will always be the mother of a baby that died. And, that's sad. Remember...I'm the happy, go with the flow, "the sky is falling, but isn't it the most beautiful shade of blue" person. But, there's no escaping this. It's a part of my history and there are times when I just want to flee from it. Only I can't.
When I was pregnant with Lily, I feared the questions and comments I would get from cashiers, moms at the playground, waitresses, etc noticing my pregnant belly. Pregnancy is a time supposed to be filled with great anticipation and joy. How were the strangers supposed to know the sadness surrounding our pregnancy? Could I get around their comments and questions without fully answering? Because once I opened that door, I saw the awkwardness in their faces (what could one say?) and/or the compassionate tears in their understanding eyes. What was I supposed to say without making that person feel awful for asking or saying something in the first place?
In this "new normal", I didn't expect to be answering similarly leading questions. Now I worry about people asking me how many children I have (do I say 2 or 3...it's a little tricky). If someone see me out with our two boys, I often get... "oh, two boys...do you think you'll try for a girl?". (Ummm. Do I go there? Deep breath.) I haven't figured out a way to answer that question and not stun the other person. I don't want that person to feel awkward...I know their motivation is not to hurt me by asking what would now seem like such a rude question.
Another new normal is watching our boys grow through this loss. Evan, who I thought was sweetly oblivious, realized more than I gave him credit for. The other day, I was cleaning out our bottle/sippy cup shelf and placed a bottle on the stairs to go up into storage. Evan picked it up and asked me to fill it with water. I guessed he thought of it as a novelty and just wanted to try drinking from it. Well, after I filled it, I followed him upstairs and watched as he had a conversation with Lily's photo and tried to get her to drink the bottle. Justin, on the other hand, made his first family drawing without Lily. More bittersweet moments and proof that they are moving through the grieving process.
So, feeling like I needed an escape from this "new normal"...I was very much looking forward to a family vacation in the Bahamas in May. (My parents have been going at least once a year for the last 7 years and sometimes they take us along too!) The Atlantis is probably our most favorite vacation destination....it is a great mix of relaxation, fun, and education....for all ages. I was really looking forward to spending time with Craig and the boys and feeling a little closer to God in this beautiful paradise. But, wouldn't you know, it rained. It rained every single day we were there...that's never happened before. We still had a GREAT time (we swam through the rain...we were wet anyway)! But, it sure did mimic how I was feeling....no matter where I go, this rain/sadness follows me.
(Dear Lord, please cause me to remember that without the rain, there would be no rainbows?) Here are some of our rainbow moments from vacation:
I attended a women's tea party at church this spring. I sat at a table with both people I knew and didn't know. I was sharing a little about the playground plans and progress with the people I knew, when I saw the lightbulb go off on the expression of someone I didn't know. And she simply said, "You're Lily's mom".
(Lily's mom) I thought to myself. That is something to be proud of. I'm not just this mom whose lost a child. A picture of sadness. The white elephant in the room. No, I'm Lily's mom. She was a precious gift and at that moment I felt thankful to be the person God chose for her journey.
Rather than worrying about how to answer people's questions, I should be looking for opportunities to share Lily's life. I should be proud of her. I should be honored to tell Lily's story...His story.