Joy and anguish (part 2)
Don’t ask me why but I felt like these two posts had to be separate – though forever intertwined for me. In some strange way it seemed like if they were written together then a piece of my grief might stain the perfectly incredible gift this baby girl is for my friend Kimberly.
Friday morning I got kids dressed, did morning chores and school work best as my completely distracted self was able. Besides my sheer delight in the arrival of this pink bundle I also had the sharp pang of worry tucked inside. My first OB appointment had been on Wednesday. I wasn’t worried when they didn’t hear a heartbeat, perhaps too early? But just to be safe I’d have an ultrasound Friday afternoon. I was close to 12 weeks along and that would give us the answers to put any fears to rest.
My sister offered to come to the appointment and I said no, I’d go alone, I was feeling strong and tough. I changed my mind a little while later and said that would be good to have her. She brought her sweet new baby Luke with her and sat and waited. Waited while I went upstairs with a kind, motherly-type ultrasound technician who put her arm on my shoulder when I started to tear up as she asked me questions. Waited while I watched the screen and knew right away there was no flutter like there should be. The tears quietly found their way back around my ears and neck and onto the table where I half-listened. I gathered myself and headed downstairs. When I opened the door all I could think was I so glad she would be on the other side and what if I had come alone?
I shook my head no in silent response to her hopeful face. She lifted her warm newborn up to me and I snuggled him right in while she gathered her things. We walked out without words and parted at our cars. But not before sharing tears spilling over baby Luke’s little face about the baby that we wouldn’t know in late spring after all.
Anguish is the only word and what a mama has to go through in the days that come after news like that is only anguish too. When I pulled in at home the one I love ran out to meet me and I met his hopeful face with only tears. Too hard to say it out loud over and over.
The thoughts all mixed up right together “Kim is holding her GIRL baby this very minute” and “I’m not going to hold a new baby just before summer comes”. The amount of emotion can’t possibly be expressed in words. Tears from absolute joy and absolute sadness at the very same moment.
My headstrong, practical self decided that physically what was to come would likely render me unable to make the hour and a half drive to see my friend and her new babe (and I could not have been more right about that). So shortly after supper I hopped in the car and journeyed north. I had not uttered a word about my ultrasound that afternoon. I wept most of the drive in the dark, pouring rain and kept fingering the bag full of soft, scrumptious, PINK clothing I was bringing to her hospital room.
I caught my breath, deemed myself presentable and ran/walked right to her door. Oh I thought my heart would just burst so great was the delight in my heart to see this mother of six sons with her beloved new daughter.
The next almost two hours we sat, we marveled together, I happily held and soaked in her sweet tiny self until visiting hours were long over and the nurse kicked me out. There was pink everywhere. It was just as I’d imagined it would be. EVERYONE would go crazy stocking them with all-things-girl in no time at all. I listened to the story and scarcely took my eyes off the wee one in my arms. It was time to go.
I’d made it this far, I was going to make it out that door without my heartache laying a finger on her perfect day. Then she said “I’m so glad your appointment went well on Wednesday.” And I started to quiver. And eyes welled up and I said “Well, not quite everything went so well, I didn’t want to tell you and….” Then all the words that I didn’t want to come out of my mouth came right out and she lifted her sore, freshly post-partum self out of her half-reclined bed and wrapped love around me as I held her little girl. We cried all over her pink self.
The complete, breathtaking joy of that day and that girl-gift was, is, like a blanket over my own loss. Holding two newborns, both in their own rights an absolute surprise to their mamas, the same day that I found out we wouldn’t meet ours…literally the gift that was is almost too much. Too wonderful if that’s even possible.
This is real life. This is anguish and joy all mixed right up together so its hard to define what tears are the happy ones and which ones are sad. The power of choosing to give thanks in the midst of these sorts of days is power that literally changes life, lifts the head, heals the heart. God is so, deeply, completely good. Even this week. Every week.