I was talking with a friend the other night, and she asked me about my grief. "What's it like, to grieve John and Jane while having a new baby?" she wondered. The short answer is that my grief isn't as sharp as it used to be, but it's still there. The long answer...
The season of all-consuming grief has passed (though it may resurface, because grief is like that). There is joy where there wasn't before. I can talk to people more easily. I don't dread being asked how I'm doing. I have happy things to share.
There is a feeling of being more like the "old" me, though the truth is I'm forever changed. There are still shower-cries and daydreams of what my babies in heaven would have look liked if they had stayed on earth.
John would have turned 3 this summer; Jane would be 2.
Twice I was a pregnant mother who threw up non-stop, craved bagels and hot fudge sundaes and proudly took weekly pictures of my bump. Twice I was a pregnant mother whose world was shattered and who delivered dead babies. I never heard them cry or saw them smile. I never got to experience their personalities outside of the womb.
Now, I am a mother of a baby who I didn't carry. I missed the first nine months of Chloe's life in utero. I don't know what her kicks felt like or what cravings she caused.
But she's alive. She's here. I watch her curious eyes take in the world. I see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. I hear her sweet baby babble and my eyes instantly fill with tears.
I can't believe I get to be her mom.
I love our adoption story. I love how this unexpected turn of events was not only a huge answer to prayer for my family, but to hundreds of people around the world who have carried our pain in their hearts.
But it wasn't long ago that hearing crazy miracle stories like "she thought she couldn't ever have babies, but then she had twins" or "my friend adopted a baby whose mother was in jail" caused me pain instead of hope. I was still so deeply hurt and sad that no amount of cool stories could make me feel better. I wasn't able to see outside the scope of my own pain.
It's interesting timing, that Chloe was born in April — the same month we found out our first baby wasn't growing properly. Spring and summer have always been the toughest times of year for me. There's so much to remember. Little things give me that feeling of being hit in the gut— seeing my maternity bathing suits in my drawer, taking pictures of Chloe on the same stoop that we took belly bump pictures on, putting outfits on Chloe that I bought for Jane, pushing a stroller after spending three years walking next to friends who pushed their babies in strollers. I'm reminded every time I fill out medical forms. I'm reminded every time someone asks me how many children I have. (Not that I need reminding, but it's still hard.)
Now I have new memories to add in with the old. Happy memories. And interestingly enough, my heart can now handle going back and remembering my pregnancies with a bit of fondness and not 100% sorrow. My pregnancies were HARD, but man, did I treasure carrying those sweet babes. I loved resting my hand on my belly. I loved when Andy would kiss my belly and sing to his babies. I loved the anticipation of meeting my children. I can't wait to meet them in heaven.
Chloe, it sure feels good to hold you in my arms.
Lord, let me keep this one.