Friday, October 16, 2009

honoring life today

I sent prayers up today. Lots of them. For the families who never got to hold a precious child, and for the families that did and had to hand them over to God too soon. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day shook me this year.

The very idea of pregnancy and infant loss is such an incredible contradiction, a cruel irony, really. Pregnancy and new life are symbols of hope, of promise, of love, of divine creation. So to mix those ideas with that of loss, of death, seems to be such a tragic combination of extremes. And I think that is probably the best way to describe it. For me, anyway.

We lost our first child to miscarriage when I was 13 weeks along. Early, yes, but that did not make the loss any less in my eyes. I longed to be a mother for as long as I could remember. I always envisioned a loud, crowded home, filled with love and children. I wanted so desperately to make my wonderful husband a father, to come together as parents, and care for and grow a child. And I was graced with a child. A baby in my womb that was loved from the moment I saw a pink line spread across an itty bitty plastic window.  I dreamt of family trips to Disneyland, walks in the park beneath shady trees, cuddling our child against my chest as I rocked him or her to sleep. Losing that baby devastated me-us. It tested my faith. And it took me a while to come back around, and to see that He was at work. Always.  I have mixed emotions when I grow sad over the child that we never knew, because I have Tyler Adam. I became pregnant with him 4 months before our 1st baby's due date. I could not have both, and God gave me Tyler. How could I ever look at my boy and not feel incredibly blessed?

But then we were introduced to infancy loss on an entirely different level, when we were told initially that our 3rd gift from God had serious complications. When we were taken into a room and told that something was wrong. When we were told to consider terminating 'the pregnancy'. That day involved us in a whole new level of struggle, of worry. Still, we trudged through the heartache, and kept our eyes on the prize, so to speak. Even though everyone around us was telling us, warning us, of what could and probably would play out when he was born into this world, we kept our focus on our son, and the day we would get to cradle him to our hearts.

And when he was born, he was whisked away, but I saw him, for a brief, fleeting moment. 

He was here- this breathing, living, beautiful boy. The joy that poured from my heart was so intense. And the mood in the room was unmistakeable. Hope and happiness are as evident as rain dripping in front of you, as apparent as the moon shining in the sky. For a while, my fears and worry quieted. All I felt was happiness and unending love. 

Then, when I was finally able to be wheeled up to see him the next day, I was pulled back into that world of fear, worry and desperation. Jack William was just one of so many baby's fighting, struggling in that NICU. And even with the worry and concern over our son, we knew (boy, did we know) how blessed we were that he seemed to be winning the fight with each breath he took. So many baby's were not. It was heart wrenching. I can remember the smells of the antiseptic, hear the sounds of monitors beeping and nurses whispering in hushed tones, feel the fear knot up in my stomach still today, thinking of our time there. Seeing my child being fed not at my breast by my nourishment, but by tubes is such an unnatural, simply crippling thing.  Seeing an IV tube stabbed into the very thin skin of his scalp, because his other veins had simply had enough. But still, he was among the healthier baby's. He would, we prayed, be coming home. 

And, again, I felt conflicted. On the one hand, so incredibly grateful and blessed that our son was spared from a worse fate. On the other hand, feeling guilty and somewhat like a traitor amongst the other parents, who watched as we wheeled our son past them on his homegoing day. I still feel that way.

As we continue to face medical scares and problems regarding Jack's heterotaxy syndrome, I am always aware of how blessed we are. He is here. Today, he is with me, playing at my feet, laughing as he tears up his sister's artwork. He is here. 

The only way I know how to honor all those children who are not here, and the families that long to hold them, is to know and be grateful for each moment I get to hold my son. To appreciate his laughter fully, to cherish and hold deeply each moment he lays his sweet head against my chest. 

And I lift them up in prayer. I ask God to blanket them with His love, to shelter them from the pain. I pray that they know that mother's everywhere long to reach out to them, hold them, absorb some of their pain. I pray.

"For I  know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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