Okay, this is not an easy week. It is a pretty rough week actually. I knew it wouldn't be an easy week, so I had expectations of being emotional and having rough days. I was completely right, and to be honest I just can't wait for it to be over.
When I found out I was pregnant with Lily, one of my first thoughts was "When am I due?". I whipped out my phone to find out. They have websites for this, you just google "Due Date Calculator," type in the requested information, and boom! Your due date. When the page popped up that said, "Congratulations! Your baby is due on November 10th!" My jaw dropped. What?! How cool! My baby was due on my birthday? What are the odds? How fun!
But I also was hit with the reality that this pregnancy wasn't guaranteed to end happily. If something were to go wrong, my birthday would definitely be tainted, not only this next one, but all the ones after that. "Let's just hope that doesn't happen," I thought.
And for the first half of my pregnancy, nothing did happen. I was finally in a place of believing that my birthday might not be the most fun I've ever had (either giving birth or recovering from it), but it was sure to be extra special.
Alas, things did not work out how I had hoped. The fear that my birthday would forever be tainted with crushed hopes has been realized, and this week leading up to my birthday has been difficult. Every day I think of how this is just not how I wanted to spend these days. I wanted to be great with child, wondering if she'd be born on my actual birthday or the arguably cooler date of 11-11-11. I am in a constant state of bad mood, forcing myself to smile but inwardly feeling very jipped. When people ask me what I want for my birthday, I swallow the urge to say, "A baby". When people ask me what I want to do for my birthday, I think, "Honestly? I want to crawl into bed and cry all day." But I don't, and I think it is wise that my sister and friends have filled that day to the brim with activity so that I won't have a single moment to be alone with my thoughts.
I have known other grieving mamas who have talked about having certain dates that are particularly difficult to get through. Always the anniversary of the death. Always the birth day. Always the due date (if lost in pregnancy). Sometimes, just another Monday, when the gaping hole your child left for some reason seems particularly noticeable.
I miss Lily every day. I think of her birth day often. I think of that Horrible Day when we found out she had died. I think so often of what could have been, and what life would be like had she lived. But this week, this coming hard day, these days are worse than normal because it is a stark reminder of what isn't happening. I'm not packing my bag. I'm not having my last day at work. I'm not preparing the nursery. I'm not second guessing our name choice. I'm not washing J* and E*'s Big Brother and Big Sister T-Shirts. I'm not excited and nervous and happy and scared and thrilled. It's just another week in November. And it isn't any fun.
This is so not where I thought I would be this week. Though Josh and I are happy and excited about our decision to adopt, we are still grieving. We will be for years to come, forever probably. But this week, this week we are grieving hard. I am grieving hard. I am feeling sad and bitter and angry and sad again. My husband is enduring living with an extra-sensitive wife, my kids are putting up with mommy's irritability. Even my blog entry "Adoption Education..." had a bit of a touchy edge to it this week (of which I hope I didn't offend...I made a few adjustments because Josh pointed out my tone was a little more confrontational than I probably wanted to be). I have been short with family, stuck my foot in my mouth more than once with friends, and have not been the most fun person to be around. I'm in a general bad mood and am thankful for friends and family that are understanding and loving and patient.
I am especially thankful that I have a God who is putting up with my bad mood. I have spent many a car ride venting to Him this week. I have questioned and cried and inwardly given Him the cold shoulder. Why Lord, would you have my due date be my birthday? What's that about? It's not enough to take my daughter but you also have to ruin my birthday too? And while we're on the subject, did she have to be born on Father's Day? I mean seriously, why don't you just strike our house with lightning on Christmas and frost this cupcake?
I vent, I cry, I vent, I clench my teeth and say nothing. I apologize. I get mad again. But I know He can handle it. He knew this would be a hard week. He has not forgotten. And He comforts. I am fully confident that without my personal relationship with Jesus, I would be so far off the deep end that no amount of prescription drugs could retrieve me. Where do people go with this kind of grief when they don't have God to turn to? What do you do with that much anger and confusion and sadness? Because let me tell you, being a Christian does not give you an immunity idol to use in life. You still experience all kinds of difficult and awful and horrible things. Having a relationship with Jesus does not make your life perfect. It only gives you hope when it isn't. And it isn't.
I have a treasure chest that my mom gave me after a very, very difficult time in my life (arguably even more so than losing Lily). It is filled to the brim with scraps of paper with verses written on them. They were written by many people that love me, and they all have themes of hope, comfort, and triumph in tragedy. I had that chest opened every day after she gave it to me. Many days after my first miscarriage. Most days after Lily died. Every day this week.
My favorite verse, if forced to pick, is Psalm 34:18. "The Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Awesome promises. Promises I have seen Him keep. I think it is important to point out here that the verse does not say, "The Lord prevents all broken hearts and never allows His children to have crushed spirits." He acknowledges that bad things happen. He knows we will have struggles and trials and broken hearts and crushed spirits. He does not pretend your life will be void of pain and difficulty. He flat out says "In this life you will have trials"! That's a given! But He does not leave us hanging. He does not let us go through this alone. He promises to be close to us during those times.
Before I lost Lily, one of my greatest fears (and I had actually thought about this, because I am a woman and that's what we do) was having to give birth to a baby I knew was dead. I had heard of it happening, knew women who had done it, and I thought to myself, "Impossible. I could not physically do that. I would have to be knocked out, put under, medicated into oblivion. There is just no way I could do it." When one of your greatest fears is realized, it is a surreal thing. Suddenly it wasn't just a sad story I had heard. I was living it. I was being forced to deal with it. And God met me where I was at. He gave me the strength I could never have imagined existed. I was broken hearted. I was crushed. And He was close. And He saved me. Just like He promised.
I am not having a good week. I am hurting, I am sad, I am angry, I am confused, and God is so close to me that I can feel Him. That's the trade off. I truly believe that people who experience pain on the deepest of levels also have experienced the Lord on the deepest of levels. We have seen a side of Him that not everyone gets to see. We have experienced miraculous comfort and peace that not everyone gets to experience. Would I trade all of that for a life with Lily? Probably. But that's the mommy in me talking.
I am still sincerely grateful for the deepened relationship I have with God because of my broken heart. I take comfort in His promises, especially in the one that gives me an eternity with my babies. Until then, I endure. I breath in and I breath out, I hope, and I look forward to the day when there is no such thing as rough weeks.