I was a little caught of guard by a couple of conversations there today - oh, how I miss the days when a routine check-up was just that....routine. It seems nothing is that simple anymore.
So, my nurse is typing into the computer that I will be changing to Maine Med to have a VBAC and, while still looking at the screen, she asks "Where will your baby go?"
I fell silent for a few seconds, trying to figure out what she meant....
"Ummm.... what do you mean?"
"Where will he go when he's born?" she asked as if it was a simple question.
The first thing that came to my mind was "heaven". I didn't say it, but the fact that it came as a possible answer showed me just how deeply I have been affected by my baby's death. Even if the question didn't make sense, I don't believe "heaven" would be a consideration for most people when being asked where their newborn baby will go.
After I received Rachel's diagnosis, the doctor I was seeing from the hospital in Rochester told me they wouldn't even deliver me because there wasn't a pediatrician around that would accept an anencephalic baby. She even called one while I was in her office, hung up with him and said to me "that's just as I thought, nobody will take her as a patient". She told me if I came there in labor, that the baby would have to be transported somewhere else and I wouldn't be able to go with her because insurance wouldn't cover it. Basically, she was trying to scare me into an abortion. But when this nurse asked me where my baby was going to go, I immediately thought she meant either in death, or that he would be sent to a different hospital without me. I sat there without responding because I had no idea what to say....I was wishing I could ask for multiple choice.
"ummm.... you mean in the hospital?" I asked.
"where will he go for care?" she repeated, and when I didn't respond again, she clarified...
"after he's born, do you have a pediatrician?"
wow... I can't believe a simple question like that could be so complicated....but I'm glad we have an answer. "Yes, he will go to the same doctor the others do" I said relieved. I figured that would be the most awkward part of my appt until the doctor came in.
He had me lay down and as he measured my belly, he asked me
"You've forgiven yourself for having an anencephalic baby, right?"
Huh?? Totally confused. I have met with this doctor a few times and I really like him....but what?!
I said "ummm...." he interrupted me and said "you know you had nothing to do with that, right? It's not your fault."
"oh, yeah...I don't think that."
I wanted to tell him all about God's bigger plan and how there was nothing to 'forgive' myself for because Rachel wasn't as bad as some might think...and actually, she was better than most would understand. But I didn't think anything I said was going to be heard and before I had a chance to try, he interrupted again and said:
"You did more for that baby than anyone I know would have and you should be very proud of yourself... and I hope your husband is proud of you, too"
"sigh" is all I could do. I was teetering between defensiveness for Rachel and appreciation that he was recognizing how hard it was for me as her mom. I didn't want to accept the compliment at the risk of insinuating that she was a burden. And yet, it was nice to hear that someone noticed my devotion to her. So I just said nothing.
He told me they expect to see a picture of Asa after he's born and the nurse gave me a hug. I know they haven't said everything "right" but they have shown their support to me and I believe that Rachel has left her little foot print on their hearts too, even through her little brother's prenatal check-ups :o) I did mention she is amazing, didn't I?
On the way home, I thought about his question...did I blame myself at all? The truth is yes, I've had those moments. I've wondered if I would have done something different if she could have been sitting here with me today. I've questioned if it was the antibiotic I was on for a couple of days when I found out I was pregnant... I've wondered if I would have suffered through that sinus infection, would my daughter still be alive? I've wondered if it was the fact that I had been really sick for a couple of months just 2 months earlier and my body wasn't ready for her. But I always come back to the fact that God has control over everything.
He had control over my sickness and what that meant for welcoming a baby into my womb.
He could have stopped me from getting pregnant.
He could have protected me from that sinus infection, or made getting an appt that day impossible.
He could have kept her safe from it, if that was dangerous for her.
He could have changed it all. But maybe, it had nothing to do with any of that.
Maybe, just maybe, this wasn't a 'bad' thing to try to find an answer for or to wish away.
But instead an indescribable blessing,
one in which God himself destined it to be for my good and His glory.
Maybe it was the thing that would keep me from walking away from my God
at a time when my faith was so low.
Maybe she was who would teach me about his love.
Maybe her short life taught me how to trust Him like never before.
Maybe she would bring people into his kingdom
Maybe as her mother I would have the blessing of encouraging THOUSANDS of people.
Maybe she would make me stronger, wiser, more compassionate, a better mother.
Maybe on the 26th day of my pregnancy, when her neural tube failed to close before I ever even bought a pregnancy test, maybe my body was just perfect for her and yet God chose to form her that way.
And Maybe all this pain and all this sorrow - and everything I have sacrificed for her - is making me more like Jesus.
And so knowing what I know about the last year and a half and what I've learned about my God and life along the way... Do I blame myself? Do I think I failed her? Do I think I could have changed it?
Nope. It was up to God.
So that begs the question... Well then, do I blame God? Do I think he failed me? Do I think he failed her?
I can honestly say that I don't believe God wants any of this. He didn't put me through this to make a point. Death happens because of the sin in the world and God hates sin. I know that God could have changed this all. And yet, the fact that he didn't only made him more real and loving to me.
You may be thinking that makes no sense. Well, if you walked the last year and a half in my shoes, you would have felt a love deeper, higher, longer, wider than any love you've ever experienced. True, unconditional and undefiled love. Not what we consider love in our earthly sense. You would have felt a strong, compassionate God sweep in and pick you up. You would have felt him carry you along, helping you put one foot in front of the other through the most horrible times in your life and at the same time filling your heart with love, peace, contentment and joy. You would have felt your heart cradled in the hands of the maker of the universe, even as you held your womb and sobbed. You would have felt the assurance of heaven and the death of Jesus on that cross and fallen to your knees in awe and thanksgiving as you prepared your baby's body for the grave. You would have praised God with complete trust in his plan, knowing more than ever before how REAL and how AWESOME he is. And as your trial continued for days, weeks, months and years to come - and you were the only one still crying - you were the only one still remembering anniversaries - you were the only one still filled with sorrow over your loss - you were the only one who struggled to move on without her..... You would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not alone. And if there is One who loves her more, it's Him.
And so maybe, she was just perfect.
Maybe my role as her mother was just different than that of my other children.
Maybe I can't watch her grow, but instead will see God's kingdom grow because of her for years to come.
Maybe my crown in heaven will be more beautiful because of her.
And maybe, even through all the pain and tears and ongoing struggle...maybe my life is more beautiful than it ever could have been otherwise.
What's there to forgive?
Now all of you who are reading this on your phone or have the volume turned off on your computer... and I know you do... humor me for a couple of minutes and refresh your screen and listen to the song I put on tonight. Think about whatever your trial is right now, and we all have them... and know that God has not forgotten you. You cannot fathom His love for you.