Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I look for you everywhere

Dear Baby,

You were so content riding in the cart at the grocery store. You kept looking at me and that now familiar sense of love and joy washed over me. You have your dad's eyes and long eyelashes. You have his sly, mischievous grin. Your calm, cheerful demeanor is your dad's too. Maybe you'll grow to be sensitive and determined like me. Maybe you'll be generous and thoughtful like your dad. Maybe you'll be freakishly picky about all things food like both of us. Maybe you'll have your dad's math skills and my reading skills (we can only hope it's not the other way around!).

But you're not in my cart, baby. You're in that other woman's cart. And those traits that remind me so much of my husband could have come from your mom for all I know. You're not mine. You're not my husbands. Why do I keep seeing you everywhere?

It's been 32 months since your dad and I opened our hearts to your arrival- 43 months since we've been married. You see we were worried in the beginning that we wouldn't have enough money to provide for you the way we wanted to. We worried that I wouldn't be able to stay home during the day and take care of you. Because of all our worries, we tried to avoid pregnancy those first 11 months of our marriage. Now we wonder if we hadn't of been so cautious and plan obsessed, would you be here today?

You see my dear baby, around the 11th month of our marriage, your dad did the math and said he thought it'd be okay if you arrived in nine months- that I'd be able to quit my job and spend my days taking care of you. My heart nearly jumped outside of my body with excitement. I went right over to my friend's house and told her you might be here soon! She was so excited to meet you too and told me what a good mom I was going to be.

I thought about how much fun you were going to have playing with all the kids in our neighborhood, how so many of them would be around your age. I thought about how I needed to take better care of myself to give you the healthiest start possible. I went to W.hole foods and bought the most expensive pre-natal vitamins I could find. I stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol. I ordered Dr. Sears' 'The Baby Book' and read all about pregnancy and childbirth. I even decided I would try to have a natural birth. I had always said I would have all the pain medication they could give me, but with the thought of your impending arrival, I had a new love in my heart- like nothing I had experienced before- and I thought for the first time, "I can handle the pain", because I so wanted you to have the very best start possible.

That month, I wondered a lot about whether or not you'd be making your debut soon. I googled every little thing I noticed going on with my body and without fail- every time-  I found at least 10 sites or message boards that said A B or C was an early pregnancy symptom! My anticipation only grew greater!

On a hot July day, I drove to W.algreens in a flurry, and awkwardly bought my first pregnancy test. I remember feeling worried about what people would think- if they could see I was married or if they thought poorly of me. I don't really know why I was so worried about other people, I guess was still a little immature.

I got home and ripped open the package with an indescribable euphoria. So many thoughts raced through my head. "How would I tell your dad?" "Did I still have time to go to his favorite bakery and buy a special cake with the announcement written on it?" "How long did I need to wait to tell everybody else?" "Crap, I think I did have some alcohol in the past 2 weeks, could I have hurt you?"

I followed the instructions and waited a few minutes to read the result. Only one line. That meant 'not pregnant.' But it just couldn't be right! What about all that stuff I read online? I threw the test in the trash and took another one. Same result. "Maybe it just takes longer than it says," I thought as I pulled the first test out of the trash to see if the result had changed. There was a faint line. I could swear. I quickly began googling and all the message boards said 'Congratulations! I had a faint line and my son/daughter was born 9 months later.'

But it only took a day or two for my hopes to be shattered- my period had arrived. I let a month or two more pass before I called our fertility care practitioner (the lady trained to read the charts of my cycles and see if anything problematic might be going on). She said it was normal for things to take a few months and recommended a couple supplements, which I purchased immediately. At the end of that month I knew something was wrong and went to my doctor.

I don't want to bore you with all the details, my dear baby. The doctor thought a few things might be off and gave me some medicine she thought would help. When it didn't help your dad and I argued about what to do next. Your dad was really worried that my doctor was missing something. He thought that if we could just find that missing puzzle piece, you'd be here any day.

We went to see a specialist who does many things that aren't in line with our beliefs. She was supposed to be the best. We thought we could get her help with finding out what was taking you so long and then go to a Christian doctor for treatment. We could never bare the thought of having you frozen and graded and treated like a product. You mean too much. I spent that month getting poked and prodded nearly every day. I hated all the examinations but I wanted answers. I wanted you in my arms. So I asked them for more tests. I knew there was a problem. They'd find it. We'd fix it. And you'd be here.

We met with the doctor in January and she told me in no uncertain terms there was nothing preventing your arrival. She said you'd be here within the year. And then she offered us chemicals if we wanted to "hasten your arrival." I wanted you here pronto, but what she was saying made no sense to me. I knew in my soul she had to be wrong. I started to cry. She clearly thought I was silly and told me to go see a therapist. I told her I knew there was something keeping you away. She said it just wasn't so. We left- your dad with renewed optimism- and me with a broken heart.

You weren't here and I knew there was a reason. I went back to my other doctor. I kept asking for more tests. Eventually, my persistence paid off and the doctor realized I might have endometriosis. She sent me to a surgeon who agreed. I was so excited we were closer to an answer! I knew you'd be here soon now. I lamented to the surgeon that I just didn't know what I'd do if I didn't have endometriosis because I just had to know what was holding you back.

Surgery was only a couple weeks later and your dad sat with your grandma in the waiting room. He would never admit it, but your grandma said he was really scared. Your dad really loves me and he thinks he needs to hide his feelings to be strong for me. The surgeon came out and told your dad he had never seen so much endometriosis in someone so young. As soon as I woke up, I asked what they found and when we could again open our hearts to your arrival. The doctor said we need only delay a couple of weeks.

Six months went by and still no you. I wrote a letter to a doctor far away to see what he thought. I found out I would need another surgery. I wasn't scared because I just wanted to meet you. But then I needed 4 more surgeries. And I started to get scared. I began to fear the pain. I began to fear what might happen to me. I wondered if I'd die of complications from the anesthesia. There were days I could barely move I was in so much pain. I was angry at everyone. I was angry at the doctors for not giving me enough medicine. I was angry at your dad- for just trying his best to help me. I was angry at every pregnant woman I saw for having what I couldn't. During this very dark time, I found it especially difficult to pray. I tried to make a habit of asking Mother Mary to pray for me every time I walked past her statue in our living room. It was during the most painful period of my recovery that I walked passed Our Lady and I heard you cry out to me, "keep fighting for me, mommy."

How could I give up now? Every month I stick myself with needles and let strangers prod me with strange devices. I miss hours- sometimes days of work- to do seemingly trivial things the doctors tell me will help you get here.

Most of my days are spent fighting for your classmates. I don't know how to tell you this, but there are some mommies and daddies who don't think there children should be born. Even when they're already on their way, the mommies and daddies think about hurting their babies. I feel sad when I hear their reasons because a lot of them sound like the reasons we avoided welcoming you into our hearts. But I swear to you, baby, we would never hurt you. Most of the time, I feel powerless to help you get here. But Our heavenly Father has given me a little bit of influence when it comes to your friends' arrivals. When I talk to these pregnant women, I wonder if they aren't carrying your future spouse. I wonder if they aren't thinking about ending the life of your best friend or teammate. A lot of the time I want to tell them, "you will never regret your child's life! But if you end their life, you will forever regret the hole in your heart only this baby can fill." I'm not allowed to say those things though. So I try to listen.

And a lot of the time, I hear your voice, "keep fighting for me mommy." And because I know you will care about your peers, I know you want me to fight for them. And even though I have no more say in when you get here, I can fight for you. I can love the mommies and daddies I meet and help them to love the babies they haven't yet met. I can see you in their eyes and in the eyes of the babies I meet. I will keep fighting. I will keep loving. I am already your mommy. I care my sweet baby. I care. Even if I can't show it in the way I want to. I care. And I will answer our heavenly Father's call. Maybe you know when you'll get here. Maybe you don't. Could you pray for me? I am praying for you. I am holding you in my heart. I am seeing you everywhere. I love you.

"I look for you everywhere the stars, the trees, the whispers in the wind the reflections in the water the sunrising and sunset. And I will keep looking."


17 comments:

  1. This is beautiful and heartfelt....thank you for sharing. You are in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you and thank you so much for your prayers!

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  2. I am so sorry that you have had to go through all of that. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to not say what you're thinking to some of the people you work with.

    I hope that, in time, you will let go of any anger and frustration, wondering if maybe you might have succeeded if you had started earlier. Those are such difficult feelings to deal with, but ultimately we can't know the answer to that question and asking it only hurts us. I've struggled with it, especially since we weren't that young when we married, and we waited more than 2 years to start TTC. Not knowing is so hard but such a part of being human.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie. It can be so difficult to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time but I do find it easier than I rationally should. I take that as a sign the Holy Spirit is with me. The anger and frustration are difficult but luckily I don't spend too much time thinking about what could have been. It's just a thought tucked away in the back of my mind that I needed to voice. Yes, that not knowing is unfortunately a part of being human. Thank God for our faith!

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  3. This is so beautiful. I connect so much to your story. Thanks for being so open with all these details. This is all so hard, but hopefully so worth it.

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie! This is by far my longest post and I felt bad about all the 'boring' details but just felt like I needed to get it out! Thank you for your kind words!

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  4. Wow, what a powerful letter! Thank you for sharing.

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  5. This is beautiful and you are beautiful.

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  6. Oh wow, did you steal my journal =) ha! This is so beautiful, so honest, and really healing for me to read (although painful). For purposes of daily survival, I've more or less shut down that part of my brain that thinks about future children. But you've encouraged me to maybe write a letter like this. Because it's true - every painful, expensive test we go through, every month of mourning - it's all for our future children, wherever they may be! Blessings to you!

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    1. I totally understand shutting down the part of your brain that thinks about future children. I think 99% of the time that's how I am. It was very healing for me to write this. My husband even found it healing to hear it. I hope you're able to write something like this too. If you decide to share it, I look forward to reading it. Thanks for your kind words<3

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  7. I have a journal of letters like this. I don't write regularly, but there are times when I just know it is time to write another letter to our baby. I dream of giving him or her the journal(s) full of letters written before s/he existed and after on a milestone day - a birthday, ordination, final vows, something sort of day. Thank-you for sharing this with us, such a beautiful piece of your heart.

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    1. How beautiful, you have a whole journal of letters! I love that idea!

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  8. I am a grandmother of a stillborn granddaughter. Our and our daughter's and son-in-law's dream was shattered on June 4, 2016. We were fortunate in that we were able to hold her little body and touch her soft skin. But your last line resonates with me because I, too, "...look for you everywhere the stars, the trees, the whispers in the wind the reflections in the water the sunrising and sunset. And I will keep looking." I hope that by now your dreams have come true.

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