April 18th

I remember the first time April 18th became a significant date.  I had just taken a positive pregnancy test and plugged in the date of my last period into an app.  Due date: April 18th.

I remember the second time April 18th became a significant date.  I sat in a sonogram room 8-weeks pregnant for my first OB appointment of that pregnancy.  After measuring the size of the baby with an already beating heart, “April 18th should be your due date,” confirmed the technician.

Then it was sometime on the afternoon of December 6th as I sat in our living room trying to grasp the fact that my baby’s heart had stopped beating that I realized April 18th would now be a day I would dread.  A day when something was supposed to be due, a something that would never arrive.

It felt so far away in December, as any woman 21-weeks into pregnancy can relate to, the due date feels so far away.  What a roller coaster the past 19 weeks have been.  There have been many sad days, several days where I just feel numb, and a sprinkling of joy-filled days that remind me it will be different one day.

It has been my empty belly that I have been mourning, but now it is my empty arms of which I am aware.

There are days where I feel crazy.  Crazy that it still hurts this bad.  Crazy that I can’t be the person I used to be.  Crazy that I can’t handle my old workload or pace of life.  Crazy that bellies and babies make me cry.  Crazy that I can miss someone so deeply whom I never met.

Some of the most comforting things over the past 19 weeks have been reading the words and listening to the stories of women who have been through something similar.  Though the stories are different, the sentiments seem to be the same.  In reading their words, I feel less crazy.  My grief seems more “normal.”

I thought by April 18th I’d be holding a newborn or headed to the hospital to deliver one.  Instead, I’m headed to the beach, thanks to the generosity of some friends.  As thankful as I am for this gift, I wish I was at Medical City hospital or home exhausted nursing my days away.

I thought I was crazy enough to have myself fully convinced this baby would come by April 4th and that this week wouldn’t be so bad.  But this week feels like a rude awakening.  40 weeks since conception.  No baby here.  No baby coming.

On December 6th, part of me died.  Since then, it feels like a lot of me has been dead.  I sat in church on Easter Sunday this past weekend and cried my eyes out.  He brings back life.  He brings new life.  He brings life to things that were dead.

I’m hoping with all I’ve got that my Maizie girl is alive, that God’s mercy and grace for the unborn and the infant is unparalleled.

I’m hoping that He will bring new life to the parts of me that are dead.  May flesh return to these dry bones.  May something pure and beautiful emerge from the ashes of this fire.

As I’ve thought about new life, I thought back to a summer in Colorado a few years ago.  Forest fires had swept through the area the year before.  A local explained to us that new vegetation was beginning to grow.  It wasn’t the same trees and plants that had been there before, but a new variety that was fit to grow in hostile ground.  This plant would change the soil and over time, different vegetation would return to the land.  It wasn’t the same as it was before, but it was new life beginning.

I’m hoping for the same.  I can’t go back to life before December 5th.  Maizie’s life and death will forever shape my existence.  But, new life, different life, can grow.  This is the promise of the resurrection: life after death.

Maizie bibleOn Friday as Jesus died, His people mourned.  On Saturday as He was gone, they waited.  On Sunday as He returned, they celebrated.  We live believing that the resurrection has happened but that many of the promises of new life will not be fulfilled until Jesus returns again.  In many ways, we’re living on Saturday.  We grieve.  We wait.  We hope for what is to come.