I want you to know that I have started this post many times in the past 2 days, and my fingers have failed me. My temptation in this moment is to just close the computer. Pretend that none of this is happening.
We had a hard day yesterday, a day that was marked by decisions that mommies and daddies shouldn’t have to make. Usually I wait to post on here…at least until I can breathe and control my tears long enough to be able to see the screen as I write, but tonight I am just letting it spill out of me. I need to be transparent before you in this moment, because I so covet your prayers during the next several days. My spirit is unbearably heavy.
This weekend, Todd was on the road for one night. I discovered rather quickly that my physical ability to parent is waning. The girls snacked on their Easter baskets for breakfast (I couldn’t get up to help), and a few minutes later I realized that Kate didn’t have a diaper on, and I was in too much pain to get to the top of the stairs to get them. There were many, many people I could have called, that would have been there in 2 minutes, but I just so wanted to be the mommy. I wanted to make life seem normal for just one morning. I could feel myself crumbling, and I went into the family room to try and find my Bible and my little journal. As I sat, I heard Abby and Ellie whispering a few rooms away and I snuck in to hear the conversation.
“Is mommy sad?” Abby paused for a response from the “wise Ellie.”
“Abby, she’s just crying again. She’s so sad about her baby. We are going to bury Audrey and that’s why she’s sad. She just needs to cry a lot and let her face be red, and then it will be fine.”
“Well should we stay in here? Do you think she needs “private-cy?”
“Yeah, I think she does. We’ll stay here. Then we can check her and see if she’s done yet”
Doll playing resumes. Two five-year olds having a very grown up conversation about which shade of pink dress matches the Barbie skating shoes and also the fact that mommy is basically falling apart in our presence and we need to figure out how to cope with it. Then I noticed my sweet Kate, with chocolate all around her mouth, playing alone at the top of the stairs with her dollies. She had given up on trying to find me…even if she had been sitting on my lap, she would see that I could not be found. I was not present to love or care for the girls because I hurt so much, in so many ways. This is the hardest part to bear.
I snuck to my spot on the sofa and I just let the weeping overtake me. The emotion that I felt after hearing my daughters very mature approach to such a complicated situation was overwhelming to me. I begged God to shelter them from what was happening, to fill their minds with peace. I was so alone, so hurt, so sad. I felt my body just start to shut down, my mind tired and restless. My bones just ached and refused to help me stand. When Todd got home shortly after, I was a mess. I told him that I just needed to get in my bed for a little while and talk to the Lord. I just needed to force myself into stillness.
I laid down for several hours. I prayed, I slept, I beseeched God, I cried, I accepted His decisions, I begged for Him to change His mind, I became filled with a sorrow that has not been present this entire journey. Just a deep down settled sorrow that soaks into every part of you and claims it as it’s own. I surrendered and fell asleep.
The amount of physical pain that I am experiencing is intense. I wanted to know why it was this way, so we called yesterday morning and set up an ultrasound. Patti was there (praise God!) and we all got caught up for a few minutes. I felt like Audrey had shifted because of the pressure I was feeling, and she has. She is now in a frank breech position, which will require a c-section as we had planned. We watched her open and close her mouth and wiggle her little body around. She has shifted from one side of my body to the other, and she is still enjoying the hiccups at least a few times a day.
I want to mention these things here because this is what we know of her. We know she likes to put her hand in her mouth, and she doesn’t like when she feels things resting on her and getting into her space. We know she has a perfect little nose and that she is tiny, tiny. We know that she likes to move her head in different positions, and that she kicks when her daddy sings to her. We know that she is about 2 1/2 pounds, and that she doesn’t like it when I lay on one side too long. And of course, the beautiful part is that we get to respond to what she likes…she loves peanut butter and jelly, so I can eat it and feel her jumping around. We have formed a system within our family of how we are able to love her in the bits we know.
Abby likes to just run her hands gently over my belly and ask if she is “hearing” her as she makes shapes with her fingers and whispers secrets to her that I can’t even know. Ellie talks to her, but doesn’t expect a response. I think she feels like the big sister, always working out the details of what things are going to be like… She’ll say, “You are going to be with Jesus and that will be so great. We will cry and miss you, though.” She likes to tidy things up in a bow, whereas Abby could get lost choosing the different textures and colors of all the potential bows before she would ever think of “tidying.” Kate likes to put her toys right on my tummy, as if she is waiting for Audrey to jump in and play. She also likes to make animal noises for her, and then she laughs hysterically for both of them.
We are all just doing the best we can, minute-by minute, to love our sweet Audrey well. We talk to her all day long. Sometimes I just take a bath and tell her all about what swimming is like, or what it’s like to be on the beach in the hot sun. I tell her about my favorite poets, my favorite memories of childhood, my love for God and for her daddy. The two of us have covered much ground in this sacred dance we call pregnancy. I feel bonded to her in a way I never did with my others, because I know this is all I have. And yet there is so much I can never give her.
I want her to know that I was funny. That I would have come at 3:00 in the morning if she got scared and needed a ride. That I would have loved to have had the sound of her children floating through my house as I got older. I wanted to try and fit a lifetime of love into a few short months, and as we approach the end of the road, it occurs to me that there isn’t enough time to tell her everything. And so now I have to trust a different side of God the Father…will you tell her all about me and what I would have been to her? Will you show her glimpses of how we would have lived life together? I guess my heart is breaking because I want her to know that I would have painted her little toenails and taken her to swimming lessons. I didn’t want to miss it all…Lord will you tell her how much she was loved, and how much we will always mourn her absence. Lord, please pour yourself into these hurts as only you can, and we will rest knowing she is safe with You.
After all of the anguish of the past few days, and from what we consider very sound medical advice, we have made the decision to move Audrey’s due date forward one week. She is now scheduled to be born at 4pm on Monday April 7th.
We beg for your prayers. We need you, warriors.
We are desperate for peace, for unexpected joy, for as much time with her as God would allow, and enough grace for the time that He won’t.
We long for her. We long to know the next page in this chapter…to His glory, whatever it may be.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 has been quoted to us so many times as we have walked this journey. I looked it up today to write down and was struck by the fact that Audrey will be born on 4/7. We trust that this was for us to find refuge in, and we do.
Good night, sweet friends. And deepest gratitude.