With the new year right around the corner, I can’t help but reflect back on this past year. I wanted to get real about what we’d been through. Although people go through so much worse than what we did, I still believe it’s important to share how we dug ourselves out, because everyone will face hills at some point in life. Being a faithful person that truly lives for God and loves Jesus won’t keep you from heartache and pain. However, true and sincere faith will carry you through whatever this world throws at you; you won’t be touched. If you cry out in your pain, you’ll come through without a scratch.
Some days, I can’t believe that I’m pregnant. I know it’s real because I live it, but I’m just so beyond thankful and it doesn’t feel real. No one ever tells you how hard it is to accept good news after you know what it feels like to received the worst news. Most of you already know this, but some may not. In December of 2013, my husband and I lost our first baby shortly after birth. I dedicated a blog to her story, and it’s posted here.
After losing Darla, I knew right away that the hole I had in my heart was permanent. It would be there forever. In fact, I said it was a “Darla-shaped hole,” and to this day it remains open. I didn’t even try to fill it. I left that space empty because I knew that nothing else could fill this void that had been carved out just for her. I had never known to love like a parent until her.
I didn’t know where to start, so I did what came easiest. I started back into the life I knew from before…but it didn’t feel the same, so I let it change. I found ways to fill my days so that I would spend as little time as possible lost in my thoughts. I saved the thinking for the evenings, and only if I needed it. Together, Jon and I surrounded ourselves with people that we loved. We did stuff. I said yes to everything that sounded fun (and seemed safe). I saw every new experience as an opportunity to heal, to experience life in a new way. Hot yoga, book clubs, downhill skiing…I said yes to it all.
I found myself completely surrounded by a community of beautiful people that helped pull me out of my dark place and back into the light again.
I remember the first time that I was walking and smiling, and I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. I was just walking. That felt really good.
With the support of my husband, I also decided to train for my first marathon. It was a goal I had always had, and I knew that the healthier my body became, the faster my emotions would heal. Running gave me something healthy to focus on.
Throughout all of this, I learned a lot about my heart and what it could do. Just because that Darla-shaped space was there didn’t mean that my heart couldn’t still heal. The space stayed there, but my heart grew around it. Love built good things, and made everything better than it was before. I find myself not knowing the person I was before I held Darla, and I’m grateful for that. Love for Darla, love for my little family, and love from everyone around me made my heart grow bigger and stronger than ever. The space that Darla left had changed me, and I could never be the same.
Don’t get me wrong…the healing hurt. In between happy moments and fun times, there were days that I didn’t even feel human. I felt like a shell of a person. Going through a difficult pregnancy had taught me how to go on autopilot, and I used that a lot. I never knew what exactly would send me spiraling back down, but sometimes I would hear a song or a noise that would remind me of what happened, and it would take me the rest of the day to recover. I didn’t always know what would trigger me. I needed to heal was because I had been broken, and being broken up into a million tiny pieces hurts.
I used to cry out at night in my grief, and I asked God to take the pain from me. I’d cry myself to sleep, I felt like I physically couldn’t handle it. Yet, I knew that I wasn’t alone in my pain and I realized that this didn’t happen to us because of anything we had done. That’s not how life works. Being a good person doesn’t protect us from bad things because we live in an imperfect world. Bad things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. However, it is how we handle what happens to us that defines our character. The bad can melt us down and leave us better than before. Jon and I made a decision that in our pain, we were blessed. We grew as a couple, we got to hold and love our first daughter. Life looks different now.
Despite my personal growth, I wasn’t 100% sure if I could ever be a mother. I yearned to have a child to hold so badly, it hurt. I just didn’t know how I could go through pregnancy again without feeling completely terrified. Yet in my fear, I never lost hope.
The amazing thing about hope is that it doesn’t take much for it to grow and multiply until one day…you smile at the thought of being pregnant. You look at the baby clothes you tucked away in the back of the closet and you don’t cry. You feel genuinely happy for others around you that are expecting, and experiencing the very thing you’d give anything to have.
You accept the truth: as much as you loved your child, and as sure as you would have given anything to save her, you realize that Earth wasn’t the best place for her. It’s not the best place for any of us. Heaven is…that’s the goal. And that’s where she is.
You realize that you are the mother to an angel. You got to meet someone that was so perfect and beautiful, she got to “take the express lane” back. You feel blessed to have even known her, let alone to have carried her for 30 weeks.
Your heart leaps when you remember how she responded to your voice in the hospital, all the nurses and doctors saw it. Someone so small and so perfect knew who you were and felt safe with you. You remember falling asleep with her in your arms. What could be better than that?
You know that no matter what happens…you’d do it all again, and you’d never do anything different.
And then, you feel ready to try.
In June, I was ready to try.
In August, I got 2 pink lines, and I wept.
After 12 long months of waiting and hoping, Jon and I couldn’t feel more blessed that this spring…we will welcome our second baby girl to the world. Our family will grow by one more. While we are hoping and praying every day for a baby that will be healthy, but we are open and excited and honored to love this baby just as much, and no matter what. We celebrate this pregnancy and this child as an individual. Although I cannot forget what happened, I know that this baby deserves to be its own baby. My heart continues to grow.
We couldn’t have gotten here alone, and we can’t continue alone. Strong in our faith and surround by love for each other, our family, and our friends…we know we will always come through pain without a scratch.