It feels like we’ve been living at doctor appointments the past year and a half now. My 2.5 year old knows how to get from the parking lot to the right places in the hospital. When she plays pretend at home, she can tell you if she is being Dr.Waldrep (OB) where she will get out the stethoscope and listen to baby’s heartbeat in my belly or Dr. Kerr (blood doctor) where she will check my blood pressure and draw blood from my arm. This has been a long journey.
But over the past month, we’ve started to look at the future more. We’ve talked about what we want the time in the hospital to look like. I’ve imagined actually making it to week 40. While this is a good thing, it has also served as a reminder of how much we can lose. Even as I look towards the finish line, even as I consider how perfectly healthy this pregnancy has been, it’s hard for me to imagine a baby coming home.
Two weeks ago, I had four different friends approach me in a five day period and tell me that they had a vivid dream of me holding a baby, this baby. It’s almost as if God was giving them hope for me and encouraging me to keep being hopeful as well. I wouldn’t say I’m currently a pessimist and believe something bad will happen this time. I’m simply all to aware that everything could go wrong in the blink of an eye.
Monday I went in to the labor and delivery department for my pre-admission appointment. I walked past the newborn nursery for the first time since we lost Maizie. I had to turn my eyes away as I thought about my baby girl. I walked into a nurse’s office around the corner and had to talk through my medical history – prior pregnancies and deliveries. We spent a lot of time on Maizie and the effects of that loss on my body. Sitting there feet from the nursery where I thought she would have been made the pain sear all over again. Fear started to creep in as we discussed my bleeding.
“Are you planning to breastfeed?” the nurse asked. “Yes, I want to actually use the milk that comes in this time,” I thought while remembering the milk that was never used with Maizie, while giving her the verbal answer, “Hopefully yes.”
I started to worry about being a patient again and thought about the medical trauma both my body and soul have endured. I left that office and went to an appointment with my blood Dr, to test my clotting factors and begin making our plan for this next delivery. How do we prevent bleeding? I’ve never worried about my bleeding disorder before (although it’s been a constant source of angst for my mother – you should have seen the way she opposed me playing contact sports as a kid), but thanks to December 6th I now understand that blood loss could take my life.
I’m still hopeful that everything will be fine: healthy baby, healthy mommy. I’m hoping all the fear, worry, and sadness will truly be swallowed up in the joy of victory. I can see it happening. A new set of memories will begin to be more present in my mind. It is this current in-between stage where the past feels more real than the present or the future. This season where I look with a degree of envy towards people who feel free enough to monogram things and talk with certainty of a baby’s arrival.
I am looking forward to the hopeful newness of this next child. I so desperately want to meet them alive. But, I need to continue to be honest with myself about the mix of things I feel. Our family’s hope has always been to freely grieve the loss so that we are as free as possible to continue to move forward. I don’t want to give pain, fear, or worry power to reign over me in the darkness. When they stay hidden in my thoughts, they run with fury in my mind all day long. This week I’ve sought to identify the specifics, to be sad over their presence because of my past experience, and to continue to move forward in thankfulness for my present, and to hope for our future. It’s a very delicate dance, all amplified by hormones ;-).
Romans 8 came to mind today as I was trying to process the roller coaster this week has been.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
“For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25).
I get that groaning. I get that longing. I want complete redemption. The redemption of my broken body. The redemption of my pain. The redemption of Maizie’s death. I feel the pain of it all presently. But even in this pain, I know there is a glory that will be revealed. The birth of a healthy baby will be a taste of it, but that is not the redemption nor the glory. My deepest hope is for the moment in eternity when all things will be made new. That is what I’m really waiting for. That is where my confidence truly lies. As I’ve waited for a healthy baby to land in my arms the past year and a half, I’m learning what it looks like to wait with hope and patience.