That's how long I have had with this baby. That was exactly how long I had with Lily.
I knew, when I first got pregnant with this little one, that if by some miracle I made it this far, I would have a mix of bittersweet emotions about it.
Sweet...this baby is officially bigger than Lily ever was. He or she has made it farther than she was able to. This week I finally felt the baby kicking me, wiggling around, assuring me that they are still alive and well. There is nothing, nothing, nothing as amazing as feeling your child move around inside you. It's something I remember distinctly grieving for after the twins were born. I missed it so much, the feeling of them safe and snug and moving around in there. Last night while Josh and I were driving the baby kicked so hard and so uncomfortably that I squealed in surprise (and some pain too) when it happened. It wasn't a comfortable feeling at all! But it was the most wonderful feeling too. Every time I feel a wiggle, I can breathe a sigh of relief and chant inwardly, "Still alive. Still alive. Still alive."
Bitter...this baby is officially bigger than Lily ever was. He or she has made it farther than she was able to. It may seem like that shouldn't feel sad, but it absolutely does. This baby has outgrown his or her big sister. They have outlived her. This week, I finally felt the baby kicking me. I never felt Lily move, not once. The first time I felt this baby kick I was lying in bed reading with Josh next to me, and I jumped and exclaimed, "I just felt the baby!!! Finally! Oh my gosh I'm so relieved!" Then, almost instantly, the realization came to me...Lily was so close. So. Close. Days away. If she had lived just a few more days, I would have felt her kick too. I just missed it.
Every single milestone, every single happy moment and healthy ultrasound, every single day is tainted with a small amount of grief. It just is. Yesterday was my birthday, and would have been Lily's first birthday had she not gotten tangled in that cord, had that freak thing not happened, had God allowed her to live...but she did get tangled, and that freak thing did happen, and the Lord had other plans for her. So yesterday she didn't turn one, she didn't turn anything, she never had a birthday and she never will. But I will continue to have them every year, until I don't, and every year I will think of her, and what could have been. Not necessarily what should have been, I'm not saying that, but it is impossible not to think about what could have been.
But instead of celebrating our birthdays together, I celebrated without her. And I felt her little sister or brother wiggle around inside me, and I marveled at the irony that I am at the exact point in my pregnancy now as I was with Lily when I lost her on the very day of the year that reminds me most of her absence. I couldn't have planned that if I tried.
There are a lot of things about this pregnancy that are eerily similar to Lily, so it is of course hard to separate the way they might end. We found out at our mid-point anatomy scan that Lily had passed away. I was just shy of 19 weeks pregnant. Josh's sister and her husband were in Africa. My sister was traveling. I hadn't yet felt her move.
This baby's scan was originally scheduled for last week. I was just shy of 19 weeks pregnant. Josh's sister and her husband are, believe it or not, in Africa. My sister was traveling. I had not yet felt the baby move. It is scheduled at the same place, the exact same office, that our scan with Lily was.
Now I'm not superstitious, but I think even the most skeptical of you will raise your eyebrows at the similar circumstances. And in case you were wondering, yes, it was in fact too much for me and I rescheduled it for a week later hiding behind the excuse that Eisley had another commitment that I wanted to be at. So sue me.
I'm praying that this anatomy scan ultrasound is as different as night and day from the one we had with Lily. I'm praying it will be an hour we can enjoy and bond with this little one as Josh sees him or her moving around on ultrasound for the first time. I'm praying this baby is actually alive when she puts that probe on my belly and we see a beautiful, fast, flickering heart beat and I have to stop the ultrasound tech for a moment because I'm crying tears of joy over it. I'm praying there's nothing wrong, and that it is a wonderfully uneventful hour.
But the fear that it won't go that way, the fear that it will be a repeat of what happened with Lily, a nightmare I can't wake up from...that fear is something I struggle with daily.
Here is what I am afraid of: I am afraid this baby will die. I am afraid there will be something traumatically wrong with it. I am afraid that I will never be able to trust the Lord again if either of those things happen. I am afraid my marriage will suffer, my relationships will suffer, my walk with the Lord will suffer. I am afraid I do not have the capability to grieve another tiny grave. I am afraid we have grossly misunderstood the Lord's calling these past few years and our family is in for yet another heart ache we will struggle to make sense of.
Here is what I am not afraid of: I am not afraid that I won't bond with or adore this child, despite my fears and reservations. I am 100% positive that no matter what my survival instinct is doing to keep me a functioning member of society, every shield I have put up around my heart to guard it from the pain and gripping fears this pregnancy has brought me will be shattered into a million pieces once this child is in my arms. I am not afraid one bit that I might not love him or her, that I might not feel the connection I did with my other children, that I might not unabashedly fall head over heels for this baby, even if right now I have to force a smile on my face when people ask me how the pregnancy is going.
So while things are very bittersweet, they are mostly sweet, because right now I have a seemingly healthy, wiggling, growing baby inside me, and that is a miracle in itself. I am so thankful for that. I am also thankful for about a million other things, so while this part of my life is a challenge, my life is truly, wonderfully good right now.
And this little peanut is growing more every day! Still sporting a very alien-esque vibe right now, but that's okay. :)
And here is a shot of the baby doing some sort of yoga stretch...
And finally, here is me, 19 weeks pregnant, finally taking some pictures so there is proof of it someday. :)
Here is what I actually look like. Trying hard to smile but kind of looking forced now that I see it for myself...
If you think of us, please pray for this week's ultrasound. It will be a really tough day and hopefully will turn out to be a wonderful one. We'd appreciate extra prayers as this week is already filled with anxiety over it! Thank you for continuing to follow our little soap opera! I'll keep you posted!