Postponed Joy

I tried to get on Babycenter yesterday, the website with the great support groups and discussion boards, but there was a glitch in the system. I had to get a new password and re-login. Right when I logged in there was a ticker at the top of the page that said, “Your baby- 3 months and 3 days old.” It took my breath away. Technically she should be three and a half months old, but they were close enough. I have purposefully not been doing the math to know how old she should be because the thought of it breaks me. Three and a half months, that’s all I thought about all day yesterday. I can’t believe she’s not here. It’s weird, I keep seeing myself in a vision of the life I should be living, with my sweet baby Lucy. That life seems more real than this one. Sometimes I can almost feel her on my hip as I do things around the house. Almost every time I get out of the car it feels like I’m forgetting something. I want to reach into the backseat and hoist Lucy’s carseat out, but it’s not there. All day yesterday I was shocked over and over again that she’s dead. Even almost nine months later, it seems so surreal. There are no baby squeals or cries in our house. My arms are so empty. My chest feels bare because it should have Lucy pressed against it. I know the exact size she would be and the weight she should be in my arms. She should be warm and soft and breathing. She should be stealing her Mommy’s attention from her older brothers. I guess she is, but in a morbid way that’s all wrong. Elizabeth McCracken lost her first baby, a son, when he was stillborn at 41 weeks. In her book, An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination she says, “At some point I imagined a kind of time that split into two or more directions when the baby died: on one track he lived and we took him home and somewhere in the universe at this moment we have a one year old and are ignorant, exhausted, cheery (or maybe only the first two); on the other track, the one I accidentally took, he died, and we left France.”

I’m slowly learning to accept this track that my life accidentally got stuck on. This is my reality, but I often find myself being drawn to that other life that was supposed to happen. That life where we are a happy family of five and we have our two boys and one girl. Where Liam and Asher get to kiss their baby sister every day and entertain her with their antics. Where they are learning to be Mommy’s big helpers by bringing me Lucy’s diapers and wipes. They’re learning to be gentle with their sissy and to be quiet while she is napping. In reality, I am learning to block that life out of my mind and my heart countless times a day.  I’m trying to savor every moment with my boys. But when I see something that says, “Your baby- three months and three days old,” I am caught off guard and the weight of my loss feels like it’s crushing me. The other day I was cleaning out Asher’s changing table that he doesn’t use any more and I came across this:

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A size 2 diaper.

I pressed it to my face and breathed it in. She would be wearing a size two diaper right now, but this old, crumpled one of Asher’s is the only one we have in the house.

I read two different blog posts this week by fellow baby-loss moms. Both posts are about restoration and they encouraged me so much. I read them a few days ago and yesterday when the darkness hit, I still had those words of restoration in my mind. It’s what kept me sane. It gave me the strength to feed my two children that I do have, to take them to Walmart and get them excited about our camping trip this weekend. It’s what gave me energy to play with them, to teach English to my Korean student, to do laundry, to keep living. I am promised restoration. I am promised a future with my daughter that will last forever. God promises that my lost joys will be restored. That doesn’t just mean that I will have joy with Lucy in the future. It also means that all of these joys I’m missing out on with my daughter will be restored to me. These Lucy joys are not lost, they are just postponed. Thank you, God, for this hope. Thank you Kalyn and Sara for your words of truth and hope. One day I will be in heaven and I’m going to hug baby Luke and baby Esther and thank them for how they enabled their Mommies to encourage me when I needed it the most.

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